Dec 282020
 
 December 28, 2020  Posted by at 10:24 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  18 Responses »


Juan Gris Grapes 1913

 

Trump Averts Shutdown, Signs $2.3 Trillion Spending And COVID Relief Bill (JTN)
Trump Signs Covid-19 Bill: Announces Congress Review of Section 230 (SAC)
Georgia Runoff Results May Not Be Known ‘for Weeks’ (RS)
Special Counsel Is Guaranteed If Biden Picks Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG
Most Europeans, Including Hospital Staff, Refuse To Take Vaccine (ZH)
Vaccines To Cause COVID Rates To Drop In Nursing Homes Soon – Gottlieb (JTN)
How Cancel Culture Keeps COVID19 Lockdown Doubters Silent (NYP)
Chinese Banks To Feel Fundraising Pain As Investors Fear Bad Loans (R.)
China Pushes Ant Group Overhaul In Latest Crackdown On Ma (R.)
Brexit: Britons Warned On Travel Insurance, Roaming Charges And Exports (Sky)

 

 

The attempts to shut down the discussion about vaccines will backfire spectacularly. We need to have that discussion, badly. “Believe in the science” has been turned into “Believe in the vaccine”. But those are not the same thing.

 

 

You think you are following the science when, in fact, you are following the media’s and politicos’ presentation of the science. Follow the science is a rallying cry by all but the scientists.
– Dave Collum

 

 

Dr. Kary Mullis, inventor of the PCR test, on the fraud who is called Dr. Fauci

 

 

What are the odds of $2,000 by now?

Trump Averts Shutdown, Signs $2.3 Trillion Spending And COVID Relief Bill (JTN)

President Trump on Sunday night signed a $2.3 trillion federal spending and COVID relief bill, averting a government shutdown and ensuring millions of Americans continue to get unemployment benefits. Despite his misgivings about wasteful spending and low stimulus payments in the bill, Trump said he signed the legislation because “I have an obligation to protect the people of our country“ from further economic devastation. He said, however, “more money is coming” as Congress votes this week on larger checks. The president on Sunday also invoked the 1974 Impoundment Control Act to demand “rescissions” be made to the spending measures. Under the Act, a president can seek congressional approval to rescind funds by sending a special message to Congress identifying the amount he proposes to cut, the reasons for it, and the economic impact.


“I will sign the Omnibus and Covid package with a strong message that makes clear to Congress that wasteful items need to be removed. I will send back to Congress a redlined version, item by item, accompanied by the formal rescission request to Congress insisting that those funds be removed from the bill,” Trump said. The signing came after Trump tweeted, “Good news on Covid Relief Bill. Information to follow!” The signing brought hope to millions of Americans who lost jobless benefits over the weekend as a federal shutdown loomed. The standoff occurred after Trump refused before Christmas to sign the $2.3 trillion spending and COVID relief bill, demanding more money for everyday Americans. Congress failed to address the president’s demands to increase the $600 stimulus checks to $2,000 per person.

Read more …

What substance does the review have?

Trump Signs Covid-19 Bill: Announces Congress Review of Section 230 (SAC)

President Trump signed on Sunday the Covid-19 stimulus package, saying that the bill will “restore unemployment benefits, stop evictions, provide rental assistance, add money for PPP, return our airline workers back to work, add substantially more money for vaccine distribution, and much more.” Trump also announced that the House of Representatives will vote on Monday to increase “payments to individuals from $600 to $2,000 and that a family of four would receive $5,200.” Another unexpected announcement was that Congress has promised to review Section 230, “which so unfairly benefits Big Tech at the expense of the American people.” Trump said that he expect them to either terminate it or substantially reform it.

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“What we have seen traditionally in Georgia that Republicans are much more reliable runoff voters than Democrats are. The republican have a pretty long string of unbroken wins in statewide runoffs..”

Georgia Runoff Results May Not Be Known ‘for Weeks’ (RS)

One of the reasons that folks on the right have been so upset over the Nov. 3 election is not just that many believe it was stolen from President Donald Trump, but also the concern that if you don’t fully answer/resolve the questions that have been raised about the election, then you can’t be assured that it won’t happen again. A recent USA Today poll found that fully 78% of Republicans don’t believe that Joe Biden was legitimately elected. While the media wants to blame that on President Donald Trump, as indeed they blame everything, it has far more to do with the media failure to actually address the questions raised, dismissing sworn affidavits and the failure to comply with state laws. That’s a big issue when you fail to address the concerns of that many people.

Now, as we approach the Georgia run-offs, Fox is reporting that we may not know the winners in the run-offs for “weeks.” From the NY Post: “Election officials in Georgia are gearing up for the possibility that next month’s Senate runoff elections may spend weeks in litigation before a final winner is determined. The state has become closely divided in recent years and both Democrats and Republicans expect the results to be razor-thin.” Until just enough ballots come in to declare Democrats the winners? Check this hot take: “Given what happened after the presidential election, I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see attempts to challenge the results, especially if Democrats win,” Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“We’re already seeing questions about signature verification, challenges of new voter registration. This could all just be a glimpse of the future.” Yes, how dare people be concerned about signature verification?! Or be concerned about people falsely registering to vote in the state to influence the election? Shouldn’t everyone be concerned about those questions? From Fox5 Atlanta: “This is no run-of-the-mill runoff. The fate of the nation’s balance of power Is on the table here,” political strategist Brian Robinson said. [….] “What we have seen traditionally in Georgia that Republicans are much more reliable runoff voters than Democrats are. The republican have a pretty long string of unbroken wins in statewide runoffs,” he said. “They want to make sure Democrats don’t control every level of power in Washington. That’s a very powerful motivator. Democrats are fat and happy because they got what they want in Washington.”

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“If I wasn’t governor of New York, I would have decked Trump. Period.”

Special Counsel Is Guaranteed If Biden Picks Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG

In recent days, President-elect Joe Biden has stated that his attorney general will not be “the president’s lawyer,” adding that he promises his “justice department will be totally on its own making its judgments about how to proceed.” And who could disagree? The attorney general is the top cop in the land, and no person, not even the president, as Richard Nixon once claimed in a famous interview with British journalist David Frost, is above the law. But Biden’s AG shortlist says quite the opposite of his declaration of AG independence. Take Sally Yates, the former federal prosecutor who has become a media darling in recent years for the same reason almost everyone else has: Her resistance efforts against President Trump while using the kind of soaring rhetoric one would expect in your average Aaron Sorkin production.

“Put simply, [Trump] treats our country like it’s his family business. This time, bankrupting our nation’s moral authority at home and abroad,” Yates said during her endorsement speech of Joe Biden at the Democratic National Convention. “But our country doesn’t belong to him. It belongs to all of us. Joe Biden embraces that. He has spent his entire life putting our country first.” “He has never backed down from a challenge or a bully,” she continued. “He summons the best in us, and lives by the values that define us as Americans, service, integrity, courage, compassion.” Yup. Yates is just the person to lead the Justice Department given that perspective and rhetoric. And we can be totally sure that if Biden asked her not to pursue any investigation of his son Hunter Biden any further than the current FBI investigation that has been ongoing for more than a year, she’ll completely resist doing so in the name of service and integrity, right?

Rhetorical question. How about Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.)? The 2020 Emmy winner is reportedly on Biden’s shortlist as well. “If I wasn’t governor of New York, I would have decked Trump. Period,” Cuomo told Howard Stern last month in response to a question regarding Trump calling his brother Chris “Fredo,” a reference to the hapless Godfather character. “I mean he was attacking me, he was attacking my family, he was anti-Italian.” This is the same Cuomo who said this of Trump even considering returning to his home state of New York. “He can’t have enough bodyguards to walk through New York City,” Cuomo told reporters in September in a not-so-veiled threat to a sitting president “Forget bodyguards. He better have an army if he thinks he’s going to walk down the streets in New York.”

Meanwhile, Cuomo has resisted at every turn calls for an independent investigation into his order to send COVID-positive patients back into nursing homes, resulting in the deaths of thousands. Fortunately for those looking for the truth, the Justice Department has expanded an investigation into the matter, which Cuomo calls “a political charade.” As for the whole-work-independent-of-Biden thing, Cuomo, who never met a camera he didn’t like, also spoke at the DNC in August in endorsing Biden. Yup. This is just the guy to serve as the top cop in the land.

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[In Bulgaria] “..only 15% of the population will actually volunteer for a vaccine in the near future..”

Most Europeans, Including Hospital Staff, Refuse To Take Vaccine (ZH)

All is not going according to plan in the biggest global rollout of what is arguably the most important vaccine in a century, and it is not just growing US mistrust in the covid injection effort that was rolled out in record time: an unexpected spike in allergic reactions to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine (and now, Moderna too) may prove catastrophic to widespread acceptance unless scientists can figure out what is causing it after the FDA’s rushed approval, and is also why as we reported yesterday, scientists are scrambling to identify the potential culprit causing the allergic reactions. Making matters worse, Europe rolled out a huge COVID-19 vaccination drive on Sunday to try to rein in the coronavirus pandemic but even more Europeans than American are sceptical about the speed at which the vaccines have been tested and approved and reluctant to have the shot.

While the European Union has secured contracts drugmakers including Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, for a total of more than two billion doses and has set a goal for all adults to be inoculated next year, this is looking increasingly like a pipe dream: according to recent surveys, the local population has expressed “high levels of hesitancy” towards inoculation in countries from France to Poland, with many used to vaccines taking decades to develop, not just months. “I don’t think there’s a vaccine in history that has been tested so quickly,” Ireneusz Sikorski, 41, said as he stepped out of a church in central Warsaw with his two children. “I am not saying vaccination shouldn’t be taking place. But I am not going to test an unverified vaccine on my children, or on myself.”

Smart: why take the risk of getting vaccinated when others will do it, resulting in the same outcome. Surveys in Poland, where distrust in public institutions runs deep, show that fewer than 40% of people planning to get vaccinated. Worse, according to Reuters on Sunday, only half the medical staff in a Warsaw hospital where the country’s first shot was administered had signed up. And if the doctors don’t trust the vaccine, one can be certain that the broader population will refuse to take it. The situation is similar in Spain, one of Europe’s hardest-hit countries, where 28-year-old singer and music composer German summarizes the skepticism of a broad range of the population, and plans to wait for now. “No one close to me has had it (COVID-19). I’m obviously not saying it doesn’t exist because lots of people have died of it, but for now I wouldn’t have it (the vaccine).”

A Christian Orthodox bishop in Bulgaria, where 45% of people have said they would not get a shot and 40% plan to wait to see if any negative side effects appear – meaning only 15% of the population will actually volunteer for a vaccine in the near future – is in the tiny minority when it comes to taking the vaccine.

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“..maybe as early as this week..”? But doesn’t it take two jobs, a month apart? How can this be true?

Vaccines To Cause COVID Rates To Drop In Nursing Homes Soon – Gottlieb (JTN)

Nursing homes likely should begin to see COVID-19 infection rates drop in coming days, the former Former Food and Drug Administration chief said Sunday. “We will begin to see some indication that the vaccines are probably having an effect maybe as early as this week, because we know that immunity does begin to kick in about a week after vaccination,” Scott Gottlieb said while appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” Vaccines normally offer immunity about a week after being administered, Gottlieb said. According to that standard, he said, death rates in American nursing homes should soon go down. “That will start to have an impact on the mortality trends with COVID, but it’s coming late in the season,” he said. “Vaccinations will take about three weeks to get through all of the nursing homes,”Gottlieb said.

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We badly need the discussion.

How Cancel Culture Keeps COVID19 Lockdown Doubters Silent (NYP)

“Thank you so much for speaking out to open schools. I can’t do it myself, for obvious reasons.” “I completely agree with you about opening schools in September, but I’m afraid I’ll be targeted at my job.” These were just a few of the supportive reader comments I received over the summer and fall, as I wrote column after column urging that schools be reopened. They opened a revealing window onto the mechanics of social control in the age of COVID-19. My correspondents’ fear was obvious: Say the wrong thing online, and have your life destroyed. Cancel culture has permeated everything, including debates over how to deal with the pandemic. Schools had been open in other countries for months, and they were all reporting lower positivity rates than their surrounding communities.


My arguments were measured and evidence-based: The data were making the case for reopening schools all by themselves. Yet most of the rest of the media seemed determined to tell the story from only one perspective: that of lockdown hard-liners, not least teacher-union bosses. This paper aside, very few outlets pushed for school openings. On the left, the conversation is heavily policed, with clear red lines drawn around “unacceptable” opinion. Reopening schools was treated as “irresponsible,” even though the numbers said otherwise. It wasn’t until Oct. 9 when things began to shift. That’s when a piece headlined “Schools Aren’t Super-Spreaders” appeared in The Atlantic. The piece didn’t exactly break new ground. What mattered is that it appeared in a liberal publication. That made it OK to believe and say what even many liberal parents knew but didn’t dare voice.

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Chinese banks are a murky lot. Question is does Xi want to allow them to fail?

Chinese Banks To Feel Fundraising Pain As Investors Fear Bad Loans (R.)

Chinese banks are expected to face headwinds raising funds next year as profit-conscious investors cling to the sidelines, expecting a wave of bad loans to hammer the sector and erode already slimming margins. The sector is ending its worst annual performance in years after putting aside record provisions due to COVID-19 while Beijing urged banks to sacrifice profits to help the economy. Next year as lenders end pandemic-related loan forbearance – which let borrowers suspend repayments or pay less in interest – banks must bolster their capital against loans previously not classified as nonperforming. Big and medium-sized lenders also need to improve their capital adequacy as demanded by global and domestic watchdogs.


China’s banks raised 1.2 trillion yuan ($18 billion) in the first 11 months of the year, off the pace of 1.5 trillion yuan for all of 2019, data from Fitch Ratings shows. The 26 listed banks may need to replenish at least 1.25 trillion yuan of capital in 2021, Shenzhen-based brokerage Guosheng Securities estimates. “The pressure of capital-raising for the whole banking industry is still pretty big,” said Vivian Xue, Fitch’s director of Asia-Pacific financial institutions. “China’s largest banks will need to raise substantial capital or loss-absorbing debt over the next few years.” The four largest – Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China and Bank of China – face a shortfall in this loss-absorbing debt of 4.7 trillion yuan by the end of 2024 to meet requirements set by the Basel-based Financial Stability Board, according to Fitch.

Read more …

China’s biggest loanshark?

China Pushes Ant Group Overhaul In Latest Crackdown On Ma (R.)

China’s central bank disclosed on Sunday it had asked the country’s payments giant Ant Group Co Ltd to shake up its lending and other consumer finance operations, the latest blow to its billionaire founder and controlling shareholder Jack Ma. The announcement came more than a month after Chinese regulators abruptly suspended Ant’s blockbuster $37 billion initial public offering in Shanghai and Hong Kong, and only days after the country’s antitrust authorities said they had launched a probe into Ma’s e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Chinese regulators and Communist Party officials have set about reining in Ma’s sprawling financial empire after he publicly criticized the country’s regulatory system in October for stifling innovation.


Regulators have urged Ant to rectify financial regulatory violations, including in its credit, insurance and wealth management businesses, and overhaul its credit rating business to protect personal information, People’s Bank of China (PBOC) Vice Governor Pan Gongsheng said on Sunday. Pan’s comments stopped short of calling for a breakup of Ant, yet pointed to a significant operational restructuring. Ant should set up a separate holding company to ensure capital adequacy and regulatory compliance, Pan said. Ant should also be fully licensed to operate its personal credit business, and be more transparent about its third-party payment transactions and not engage in unfair competition, Pan added. Ant said in a statement it would establish a “rectification” working group and fully implement regulatory requirements.

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It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it.

Brexit: Britons Warned On Travel Insurance, Roaming Charges And Exports (Sky)

Britons travelling to the European Union have been warned they face disruption and potential charges after the Brexit transition period ends on Thursday. Travellers from the UK have previously been able to rely on free healthcare with their European Health Insurance Card, and to escape roaming charges thanks to a ban on the fees throughout the bloc. But the trade deal brokered between the European Union and the UK does not allow for Britons to keep either of these advantages. The deal only says both sides must encourage mobile providers to have “transparent and reasonable rates”, while government guidance tells British travellers to check with their mobile provider to see what charges they will face.

Any British visitor to the EU will also have to make sure their passport has enough validity when they begin their journey. Cabinet minister Michael Gove acknowledged there will be “some disruption” as the nation adjusts, so he said “it is vital” to be as ready as possible. Mr Gove also warned businesses that the time left to make final preparations before the new deal comes into force “is very short”. Businesses must understand the new rules on importing and exporting goods between Great Britain and the EU, as well as rules when trading with Northern Ireland. EU officials are set to meet on Monday to discuss the Brexit trade deal agreed with the UK on Christmas Eve. If the Brexit agreement, covering £660bn of trade, can be provisionally approved by EU ambassadors, it will then move on to formal ratification by the European Parliament.

It will almost certainly be passed by the UK parliament this week, with Labour backing what it describes as a “thin” treaty, as the alternative would be a chaotic no-deal situation on 1 January. And Boris Johnson has said that, although he accepts that “the devil is in the detail” of the deal, he believes that it will stand up to inspection from sceptics such as the European Research Group of Brexiteers.

Read more …

 

 

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– Mary Shafer (NASA)

 

 

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Dec 162020
 
 December 16, 2020  Posted by at 10:25 am Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,  36 Responses »


Henri Cartier-Bresson Trafalgar Square on the Day of the Coronation of George VI 1937

 

Yes, HCQ Is Scientifically Proven Against COVID-19 (Rafaeli)
Swedish PM: Medical Chiefs Failed Us With Light Touch (Times)
The Most Lethal Virus is Not COVID. It is War (John Pilger)
COVID19 Relief Draft Provides $100 Billion Double-Dip Tax Deduction (Fang)
Trump Asking About Special Prosecutor For Hunter Biden (AP)
Pennsylvania Republicans Ask SCOTUS To Again Review Election Lawsuit (ET)
Michigan Legislature Committees Subpoena Election Evidence (JTN)
DNI Declassifies Brennan Notes, 2016 CIA Referral On Clinton Campaign (Fed)
Facebook, Twitter Execs Donated Big To Biden While Blocking Hunter News (NYP)
McConnell Takes Checks from Voting Machine Lobbyists (RS)
Hackers Used SolarWinds’ Dominance Against It In Sprawling Spy Campaign
Pompeo: Russia Sowing ‘Chaos, Conflict, And Division’ In Mediterranean (JTN)

 

 

 

 

Very long, I haven’t read the whole thing yet. Still, when it’s about saving lives, including your own… might as well read it..

Yes, HCQ Is Scientifically Proven Against COVID-19 (Rafaeli)

In this article I am not going to simply transform the treatment with HCQ (an acronym for hydroxychloroquine) from “not promising”, as the New York Times qualifies it, to “promising”. I will explain that it is scientifically proven, and in every possible scientific way. In addition, I will explain how and why the biggest journalistic blackout in human history is taking place right now. Yes, that’s right. I’m telling you here that the New York Times and almost all the other mainstream media are doing dirty, lousy quality journalism. As a result of this amateurism, a seismic tremor of gigantic proportions is being created at the moment, and without precedent, in the credibility of the mainstream world press, with unpredictable consequences for humanity in the coming decades.

And I warn you right now. I have no concern in producing a short article. There are many analyses to be done, nuances to be approached and many details that cannot be left out. The farce is so big and with so many actors, that it’ s almost unbelievable that it can be dismantled with day-to-day facts and simple logic There are scientific articles, facts and figures that no one wants to report or discuss. These studies have not become news in the major media nor have been cited by science journalists, but they have impacts like Muhammad Ali’s punches in the logic of those who claim that the drug does not work. Here they will come to the public. My main point of view in this article is the evolution of the arguments of people who insist that the drug is ineffective against COVID-19.

This is my third article on the subject. In the first one (in French, English, Portuguese), three months ago, I explained my personal view. I had the goal of making a choice between taking or not these drugs, in case of catching the virus. In it I have spoken about the political scenario and the incredible logical flaws of those who claim that the treatment does not work. I discussed how the “official story” is an incredible conspiracy theory and explained how the false narrative about this medication was formed, all in a timeline. In my second article, I lamented the shameful censorship, pretending to be of service to society, that has been present in today’s world. In addition, I explained the inversion of ideological values, in the West, between right and left, when dealing with this topic. (Originally published on France-Soir in French. Also with versions in Portuguese and English).

Now I write this third article, where I bring all the main news from the scientific world in the last three months. It is to disassemble the last arguments of those who say it doesn’t work. The world is standing still. There is panic and fear in the global population. More than one million three hundred thousand people have died. For the vast majority of these victims, a cure with a high percentage of success has been neglected. Another millions are depressed, with no prospect of life and happiness. All due to a perfect storm and gross errors. All conveniently taken advantage of by petty interests.

Read more …

All too common refrain: “I did not fail, all the others did.”

Swedish PM: Medical Chiefs Failed Us With Light Touch (Times)

Sweden’s health experts misjudged the resurgence of the coronavirus by recommending a light-touch approach, the prime minister said. The country, which has pursued a form of herd immunity strategy under Anders Tegnell, its chief epidemiologist, has been hit so hard by the second wave of infections that hospitals in Stockholm are struggling to cope. Stefan Lofven, the prime minister, told the Aftenposten newspaper that his medical advisers had not seen such a wave coming. “They talked about different clusters,” he said. Sweden’s neighbours, Finland and Norway, which adopted stricter social controls and have suffered fewer fatalities per capita, have offered medical help after Stockholm reported that 99 per cent of intensive care unit (ICU) beds were full and called for more staff.

Mr Lofven, who leads a Social Democrat-Green Party coalition, spoke hours before a commission examining Sweden’s handling of the pandemic concluded that it had failed to protect elderly people during the first wave. A high level of community spread was the biggest factor in the virus getting into care homes, the commission said. Sweden’s pandemic strategy, shunning lockdowns and masks, has been much debated as an alternative approach to tougher curbs. Schools, restaurants and businesses were largely left open while people were advised to maintain social distance and hygiene. The strategy was coupled with a goal to “ring-fence” the most vulnerable. As deaths mounted, especially at nursing homes, the commission said that it had failed to do so effectively.

The approach has been called reckless and cruel but it also won praise from people seeing it as more sustainable and business-friendly. About half of Sweden’s almost 7700 deaths have been nursing home residents. The country now faces a significant rise in cases and fatalities. Its statistical agency recorded a total of 8088 deaths from all causes last month, the highest mortality in any November in Sweden since the first year of the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, when 16,600 people died. Since Friday 153 people have died from COVID-19 related causes, bringing the total to 7,667. There have been 320,000 confirmed cases.

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Word.

The Most Lethal Virus is Not COVID. It is War (John Pilger)

Not a year has passed since peace was declared in 1945 that Britain has not sent military forces to fight the wars of empire. Not a year has passed when countries, mostly poor and riven by conflict, have not bought or have been “soft loaned” British arms to further the wars, or “interests”, of empire. Empire? What empire? The investigative journalist Phil Miller recently revealed in Declassified that Boris Johnson’s Britain maintained 145 military sites – call them bases — in 42 countries. Johnson has boasted that Britain is to be “the foremost naval power in Europe”. In the midst of the greatest health emergency in modern times, with more than 4 million surgical procedures delayed by the National Health Service, Johnson has announced a record increase of £16.5 billion in so-called defence spending – a figure that would restore the under-resourced NHS many times over.

But these billions are not for defence. Britain has no enemies other than those within who betray the trust of its ordinary people, its nurses and doctors, its carers, elderly, homeless and youth, as successive neo-liberal governments have done, Conservative and Labour. Exploring the serenity of the National War Memorial, I soon realised there was not a single monument, or plinth, or plaque, or rosebush honouring the memory of Britain’s victims — the civilians in the “peacetime” operations commemorated here. There is no remembrance of the Libyans killed when their country was wilfully destroyed by Prime Minister David Cameron and his collaborators in Paris and Washington.

There is no word of regret for the Serbian women and children killed by British bombs, dropped from a safe height on schools, factories, bridges, towns, on the orders of Tony Blair; or for the impoverished Yemeni children extinguished by Saudi pilots with their logistics and targets supplied by Britons in the air-conditioned safety of Riyadh; or for the Syrians starved by “sanctions”. There is no monument to the Palestinian children murdered with the British elite’s enduring connivance, such as the recent campaign that destroyed a modest reform movement within the Labour Party with specious accusations of anti-Semitism.

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Capitol Hill is simply incapable of getting these, the most basic of things, right.

COVID19 Relief Draft Provides $100 Billion Double-Dip Tax Deduction (Fang)

A draft of coronavirus relief legislation, circulated by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, eschews direct payments to average Americans but contains an unusually generous handout to the very wealthy. The draft legislation, the Bipartisan Emergency COVID Relief Act of 2020, was released this week as part of a package of two major bills to confront the ongoing crisis. The draft of the first bill circulating on Capitol Hill contains a number of adjustments to the Paycheck Protection Program, the forgivable loan program that has served as the centerpiece of the government’s efforts to curb job loss stemming from the pandemic.

Many of the changes provide extended eligibility for expenses that can be reimbursed by the PPP program, including damage from looting and costs associated with cloud computing, as well as the construction of sneeze guards and other safety measures implemented by businesses. But one of the revisions in the legislation is a subtle yet radical change that would result in a major windfall for the highest-income Americans and large corporations. The bill provides that businesses claiming expenses reimbursed by PPP forgivable loans, which are already tax-free, can be further used as deductions when calculating taxable income. In other words, the change would allow a corporation that claimed $1 million in PPP reimbursements to apply that money as a deduction on its tax return, reducing taxable income by $1 million.

Critics of this idea, first circulated by a bipartisan set of legislators last summer, note that it provides an unprecedented tax advantage that overwhelmingly benefits investors and high-net-worth professionals. IRS rules have long prohibited tax-free government grants and reimbursements from being used as deductions. Steven Rosenthal, a tax expert with the Tax Policy Center, writing in his blog TaxVox, has noted that the proposal represents a “double dip” that abandons longstanding tax norms to provide “overly generous relief” that rewards “savvy, well-connected business and crowds out relief for others, undercutting the effectiveness of Congress’ aid.”

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Baseless, blah blah.

Trump Asking About Special Prosecutor For Hunter Biden (AP)

President Donald Trump is considering pushing to have a special counsel appointed to advance a federal tax investigation into the son of President-elect Joe Biden, setting up a potential showdown with incoming acting attorney general Jeffrey Rosen.Trump — angry that out-going Attorney General William Barr didn’t publicly announce the ongoing, two-year investigation into Hunter Biden — has consulted on the matter with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, White House counsel Pat Cipollone and outside allies. That’s according to several Trump administration officials and Republicans close to the White House who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss private matters.

Beyond appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the younger Biden, the sources said Trump is interested in having another special counsel appointed to look into his own baseless claims of election fraud. But if he’s expecting his newly named acting attorney general to go further than Barr on either matter, he could end up quickly disappointed.Barr on Monday evening announced he will resign effective next week, revealing his plans about a week after Hunter Biden publicly disclosed that he was under investigation related to his finances. It is generally Justice Department policy not to disclose investigations that are in progress, though the subjects of those investigations can. Rosen, the deputy attorney general, will step into the Justice Department’s top job in an acting role.

A longtime litigator, he has served as Barr’s top deputy since May 2019 but largely shies away from the spotlight. He said in a statement Tuesday he was “honored” to serve and “will continue to focus on the implementation of the Department’s key priorities.” Trump is still weighing his options, considering whether to pressure Rosen to make the special counsel appointment or, if needed, to replace the acting attorney general with someone more likely to carry out his wishes. He has even asked his team of lawyers, including personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, to look into whether the president has the power to appoint a special counsel himself. A key question will be whether Rosen can stand up to presidential pressure — and potentially withering attacks — in the waning weeks of the Trump administration. If not, Rosen could be cast aside in favor of others more willing to do Trump’s bidding.

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Watching the dice roll…

Pennsylvania Republicans Ask SCOTUS To Again Review Election Lawsuit (ET)

A group of Republicans in Pennsylvania on Tuesday has again urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up their lawsuit that challenges the 2020 election results in the state. The nation’s top court had previously rejected the group’s request for immediate injunctive relief to block Pennsylvania from taking further steps to certify the 2020 election results. At the time, the group’s lawyer, Greg Teufel, said the case was not over because his clients were planning to file a formal petition to ask the court to review the lawsuit, which they hadn’t filed the first time. The lawyer filed a petition for a writ of certiorari on Dec. 11, docketed by the court on Dec. 15, which argues that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was wrong when it dismissed their case because the justices thought the plaintiffs filed their case with unreasonable delay.

“This Court should not turn a blind eye to unconstitutional election laws that permit massive vote dilution and have a significant impact on election outcomes, as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court did,” the petition (pdf) states. The case at hand—cited as Kelly v. Pennsylvania—argues that Act 77, a law that made voting by mail without an excuse legal in Pennsylvania, was enacted in violation of Pennsylvania’s constitution. The state constitution, the plaintiffs argue, prohibits absentee voting in Pennsylvania except for four limited circumstances. The lawsuit alleges that the state law is “another illegal attempt to override the limitations on absentee voting prescribed in the Pennsylvania Constitution, without first following the necessary procedure to amend the constitution to allow for the expansion.”

The lawsuit was filed by a Republican lawmaker Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) and several GOP congressional candidates. In late November a Pennsylvania commonwealth judge, Patricia McCullough, issued a temporary injunction that would have prevented the state from taking further steps to complete the certification of the presidential race. She argued that “petitioners appear to have established a likelihood to succeed on the merits because petitioners have asserted the Constitution does not provide a mechanism for the legislature to allow for expansion of absentee voting without a constitutional amendment.” She also opined that the “petitioners appear to have a viable claim that the mail-in ballot procedures set forth in Act 77 contravene” the plain language of the provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which deals with absentee voting.

However, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs waited too long before the county of boards of election were required to certify the election results to bring the case, which could “result in the disenfranchisement of millions of Pennsylvania voters” who voted by mail.

Read more …

“Only after these activities are concluded should this information be deleted for data privacy reasons.”

Michigan Legislature Committees Subpoena Election Evidence (JTN)

Concerned about possible election evidence being destroyed, members of a joint session of the Michigan Legislature’s House and Senate oversight committees on Tuesday voted to issue subpoenas to Detroit and the nearby suburb of Livonia demanding they surrender hard drives, emails, absentee voter counting board laptops and other election-related materials. One Senate Democrat reportedly joined his Republican colleagues in supporting the subpoenas. A Nov. 28 order memo from the State Bureau of Elections had followed the same protocol as prior elections and ordered the deletion by November 30 of “E-Pollbook laptops and flash drives … unless a petition for recount has been filed and the recount has not been completed, a post-election audit is planned but has not yet been completed, or the deletion of the data has been stayed by an order of the court or the Secretary of State.”

Tracy Wimmer, director of Media Relations for Michigian Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, told Just the News in a statement Thursday that she rejected Republicans’ concerns about the deletion memo. “The Bureau of Elections memo sent to clerks is the same memo that has been sent to clerks for years, including under the administration of now state senator Ruth Johnson,” Wimmer said. “Republican House and Senate legal counsel were provided this information days ago. The fact that members of their party is choosing to ignore these truths in a press release demonstrates they have no interest in preserving the integrity of our elections or democracy.”

Michigan State Senator Ruth Johnson, the Republican who supported the subpoena effort, told Just the News she had previously signed the same deletion order while she was secretary of state but the unusual nature of the 2020 election meant circumstances had changed. “Election integrity should not be a partisan issue, this information needs to be preserved while there are ongoing lawsuits, audits, and Oversight committee review of the November election,” Johnson said. “Only after these activities are concluded should this information be deleted for data privacy reasons.”

Read more …

Declassify all of it.

DNI Declassifies Brennan Notes, 2016 CIA Referral On Clinton Campaign (Fed)

Top U.S. intelligence officials were so concerned heading into the 2016 election that the Russians were aware of and potentially manipulating Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s plans to smear Donald Trump as a Russian agent that they personally briefed President Barack Obama on the matter, newly declassified Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) documents show. CIA officials also requested that the FBI investigate Russian knowledge of the Clinton campaign’s collusion smear operation. Newly declassified handwritten notes from former CIA Director John Brennan show that the U.S. intelligence community knew in 2016 that Russian intelligence was actively monitoring, and potentially injecting disinformation into, Clinton’s anti-Trump collusion narrative.

The intelligence concerning Russia’s knowledge of Clinton’s campaign plans was so concerning to Brennan and other national security officials that they personally informed Obama of the matter in the Oval Office in the summer of 2016. The handwritten notes from Brennan were declassified by Director of National Intelligence (DNI) John Ratcliffe and provided to Congress on Tuesday afternoon. According to the declassified notes, Brennan and the U.S. intelligence community knew months prior to the 2016 election that the collusion smear was the result of a campaign operation hatched by the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

“We’re getting additional insight into Russian activites from [REDACTED],” Brennan’s handwritten notes state. “Cite alleged approval by Hillary Clinton–on 26 July–of a proposal from one of her foreign policy advisers to villify [sic] Donald Trump by stirring up a scandal claiming interference by the Russian security services.” The notes appear to have been prepared by Brennan to memorialize a meeting held at the White House with the president and his top national security advisers. Included in Brennan’s notes are the responses of other participants in the briefing — including those of former White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice, former White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, and former DNI James Clapper, but those responses are redacted.

Read more …

Why they should be treated as, and broken up like, AT&T.

Facebook, Twitter Execs Donated Big To Biden While Blocking Hunter News (NYP)

Facebook and Twitter executives poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, all while blocking the New York Post’s exposé about Hunter Biden’s overseas business dealings. The revelation comes amid accusations from President Trump and other Republicans that Silicon Valley is censoring conservative voices, sparking a push for the companies to lose their liability protections. A review of Federal Election Commission records show Facebook’s vice president of public policy and chief privacy officer, Erin Egan, donated $99,440.01 to Democrats and Biden in the final weeks of the race.

Egan donated the maximum contribution of $2,800 to the former veep’s White House bid on Sept. 8 and Oct. 1 before ponying up a whopping $55,000 for the Biden Victory Fund and $35,500 for the Democratic National Committee. According to Biden’s website, the Biden Victory Fund is a joint fundraising effort among his campaign, the DNC, and the 47 state parties to help defeat Trump. As first reported by Fox News, she made no contributions to the president’s campaign. Likewise, Facebook’s chief financial officer, David Wehner, donated $2,800 apiece to Biden’s campaign and Democrat Amy McGrath’s failed bid to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.

David Fischer, Facebook’s chief revenue officer, donated $2,800 to Biden’s bid during the Democratic primary, according to FEC records, and another $750 during the general election. But Fischer also donated tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic challengers in other key races, including Jamie Harrison’s unsuccessful campaign against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Mark Kelly and John Hickenlooper’s successful Senate races in Arizona and Colorado. A number of Facebook vice presidents and Instagram’s chief financial officer also donated the maximum $2,800 to Biden’s White House bid.

Read more …

Just ban the damn things. If elections can be manipulated, they will.

McConnell Takes Checks from Voting Machine Lobbyists (RS)

In 2016, Russian hackers targeted voting systems in 21 states and, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report, breached systems in Illinois and two counties in Florida, gaining access to information on millions of registered voters. In his report, Mueller described the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 elections as “sweeping and systematic.” Three years later, security experts warn that not enough has been done to address vulnerabilities in the U.S. election system. The director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations recently told Congress that “the threats just keep escalating,” adding that he viewed the 2018 midterms as a “dress rehearsal for the big show in 2020.”

In fourteen states, some 2018 midterm voters submitted their votes on touchscreens that did not produce paper trails necessary to verify their votes or audit election outcomes. If votes had been inaccurately processed in these precincts—whether through equipment errors or foreign hacking operations—election officials wouldn’t have been able to find or correct the problems. Several Democratic and Republican members of Congress have submitted legislation to shore up election security. Proposals from Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) include replacing paperless electronic voting machines with hand-marked paper ballots and optical scanners, subjecting voting equipment vendors to rigorous cybersecurity standards, and requiring vendors to report cybersecurity incidents.

But all the bills have hit a roadblock. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has reportedly told his colleagues that he will not allow the Senate to vote on election security legislation this session.

Read more …

A whole article on SolarWinds without mentioing Dominion even once. Well done!

Hackers Used SolarWinds’ Dominance Against It In Sprawling Spy Campaign

On an earnings call two months ago, SolarWinds Chief Executive Kevin Thompson touted how far the company had gone during his 11 years at the helm. There was not a database or an IT deployment model out there to which his Austin, Texas-based company did not provide some level of monitoring or management, he told analysts on the Oct. 27 call. “We don’t think anyone else in the market is really even close in terms of the breadth of coverage we have,” he said. “We manage everyone’s network gear.” Now that dominance has become a liability – an example of how the workhorse software that helps glue organizations together can turn toxic when it is subverted by sophisticated hackers.

On Monday, SolarWinds confirmed that Orion – its flagship network management software – had served as the unwitting conduit for a sprawling international cyberespionage operation. The hackers inserted malicious code into Orion software updates pushed out to nearly 18,000 customers. And while the number of affected organizations is thought to be much more modest, the hackers have already parlayed their access into consequential breaches at the U.S. Treasury and Department of Commerce. Three people familiar with the investigation have told Reuters that Russia is a top suspect, although others familiar with the inquiry have said it is still too early to tell. [..] In a statement issued Sunday, the company said “we strive to implement and maintain appropriate administrative, physical, and technical safeguards, security processes, procedures, and standards designed to protect our customers.”

Cybersecurity experts are still struggling to understand the scope of the damage. The malicious updates – sent between March and June, when America was hunkering down to weather the first wave of coronavirus infections – was “perfect timing for a perfect storm,” said Kim Peretti, who co-chairs Atlanta-based law firm Alston & Bird’s cybersecurity preparedness and response team. Assessing the damage would be difficult, she said. “We may not know the true impact for many months, if not more – if not ever,” she said. The impact on SolarWinds was more immediate. U.S. officials ordered anyone running Orion to immediately disconnect it.

Read more …

Oh please, make it stop. What clown will takeover from Pompeo?

Pompeo: Russia Sowing ‘Chaos, Conflict, And Division’ In Mediterranean (JTN)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has launched a verbal salvo charging that Russia continues to destabilize the Mediterranean, and that it sows “chaos, conflict, and division” in the region. Pompeo directed his comments Tuesday at his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who recently accused the U.S. of playing political games in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. “It’s unfortunate and unhelpful that Mr. Lavrov again gets the facts wrong and attempts to rewrite history,” Pompeo said in a statement. “The United States is working actively with allies and partners in the Eastern Mediterranean to promote greater stability, security, and prosperity.”

The comments come during a time of increased tensions between Washington and Moscow, and in the wake of reports that Russian hackers have breached U.S. government computer systems. Although he did not directly mention hacking operations, Pompeo charged Russia with spreading disinformation and undermining national sovereignty specifically in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean. “In Syria, Russia supports the Assad regime whose war against its own people has added to regional instability, led to a protracted humanitarian crisis, and displaced half the population,” Pompeo said. The secretary of state listed a number of Russian actions in Greece, Cyprus, Malta, and elsewhere.

“In Libya, Russia/ supported an assault on the/ Libyan capital, Tripoli, killing civilians and undermining the UN s efforts to bring peace to the country,” Pompeo said. Citing a litany of actions in Libya, Pompeo noted Russia had printed counterfeit Libyan dinars and has used its proxy mercenary army known as Wagner to fuel conflict.

Read more …

 

 

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G.K. Chesterton

 

 

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Apr 112019
 


William Hogarth Humours of an Election, Plate 2 1754

 

 

While we’re republishing articles about the newly arrested Julian Assange, in his honor, here’s one on the role the press has played in his ordeal. And will undoubtedly continue to play. What does it say about a society that you have to hold not only the government, but also the press to account?

We originally published this essay on August 17 2018.

 

 

Two thirds of Americans want the Mueller investigation (inquisition, someone called it) over by the midterm elections. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said that if Mueller wants to interview Trump, he’ll have to do so before September 1, because the Trump camp doesn’t want to be the one to unduly influence the elections. Mueller himself appears to lean towards prolonging the case, and that may well be with an eye on doing exactly that.

And there’s something else as well: as soon as the investigation wraps up, Trump will demand a second special counsel, this time to scrutinize the role the ‘other side’ has played in the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath. He’s determined to get it, and he’ll fire both Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein if they try to stand in his way.

There have of course been tons of signs that it’s going to happen, but we got two significant ones just the past few days. The first is the termination of John Brennan’s security clearance. It looks impossible that no additional clearances will be revoked. There are more people who have them but would also be part of a second special counsel’s investigation. That doesn’t rhyme.

The second sign is Senator Rand Paul’s call for immunity for Julian Assange to come talk to the US senate about what he knows about Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Obviously, we know that he denies its very existence, and has offered to provide evidence to that end. But before he could do that, a potential deal with the DOJ to do so was torpedoed by then FBI chief James Comey and Senator Mark Warner.

Both will also be part of the second investigation. Rand Paul’s motivation is simple: Assange’s testimony could be a very significant part of the process of figuring out what actually happened. And that should be what everybody in Washington wants. Question is if they all really do. That’s -ostensibly- why there is the first, the Mueller Russian collusion, investigation. Truth finding.

But Mueller doesn’t appear to have found much of anything. At least, that we know of. He’s locked up Paul Manafort on charges unrelated to collusion, put him in isolation and dragged him before a jury. But don’t be surprised if Manafort is acquitted by that jury one of these days. The case against him seemed a lot more solid before than it does now. A jury that asks the judge to re-define ‘reasonable doubt’ already is in doubt, reasonable or not. And that is what reasonable doubt means.

 

But it wasn’t just Brennan and Comey and Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and all the rest of them in the intelligence community who played questionable roles around the election and the accusations of Russian meddling in it. The American media were also there, and very prominently. Which is why when 300 papers publish editorials pushing against Trump ‘attacking’ the media, you can’t help but -wryly- smile.

Why does Trump attack the press? Because they’ve been attacking him for two years, and they’re not letting go. So the press can attack the president, but he cannot fight back. That’s the rationale, but with the Mueller investigation not going anywhere it’s a hard one to keep alive.

There are three reasons for the behavior of the New York Times, WaPo, MSNBC, CNN et al. The first is political, they’re Democrat hornblowers. The second is their owners have a personal thing against Donald Trump. But these get trumped by the third reason: Trump is their golden goose. Their opposition makes them a fortune. All they need to do is publish articles 24/7 denouncing him. And they have for two years.

That puts the 300 papers’ editorials in a strange light. Many of them would have been fighting for their very lives if not for anti-Trump rhetoric. All 300 fit neatly and easily in one echo chamber. And, to put it mildly, inside that chamber, not everyone is always asking for evidence of everything that’s being said.

It’s not difficult to whoop up a storm there without crossing all your t’s. And after doing just that for 2 years and change, it seems perhaps a tad hypocritical to claim that you are honest journalists just trying to provide people with the news as it happened.

Because when you’ve published hundreds, thousands of articles about Russian meddling, and the special counsel that was named to a large degree because of those articles, fails to come up with any evidence of it, it will become obvious that you’ve not just, and honestly, been reporting the news ‘as it happened’. You have instead been making things up because you knew that would sell better.

And when the second special counsel starts, where will American media be? Sure, it may not happen before the midterms, and you may have hopes that the Democrats win those bigly, but even if that comes to pass (slim chance), Trump will still be president, and the hearings and interviews won’t be soft and mild. Also, there will be serious questions, under oath, about leaks to the press.

 

Still, whichever side of this particular fence you’re on, there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on. That is, when we get to count how many of the 300 editorials have actually mentioned, let alone defended, Julian Assange, and I’ll bet you that number is painfully close to zero, that is where we find out how honest this defense of the free press is.

If for you the free press means that you should be able to write and broadcast whatever you want, even if it’s lacking in evidence, as much of the Russiagate stuff obviously is, and you ‘forget’ to mention a man who has really been attacked and persecuted for years, for publishing files that are all about evidence, you are not honest, and therefore probably not worth saving.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the essence of the free press. A press that is neutral, objective, fearless and determined to get the truth out. The New York Times and CNN simply don’t fit that description -anymore-. So when their editors publish calls to protect free press, but they leave out the one person who really represents free press, and the one person who’s been tortured for exactly that, you have zero credibility.

Sure, you may appear to have credibility in your echo chamber, but that’s not where real life takes place, where evidence is available and where people can make up their own minds based on objective facts provided by real journalists.

You guys just blew this big time. You don’t care about free press, you care about your own asses. And the second special counsel is coming. Good luck. Oh, and we won’t forget your silencing of Assange, or your attacks on him. If you refuse to do it, WE will free the press.

 

 

Feb 182019
 
 February 18, 2019  Posted by at 8:20 pm Primers Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,  6 Responses »


Johannes Vermeer The art of painting 1666-8

 

Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director from February 2016 to January 2018 and former Acting Director of the FBI from May 9, 2017, to August 2, 2017, was fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions Sessions on March 16, 2018, 26 hours before his scheduled retirement. On April 18 2018 it was reported that the Justice Department’s inspector general, Michael Horowitz, sent a referral to the US attorney’s office in Washington for possible criminal charges against McCabe for lying to internal investigators.

When Sessions announced McCabe’s firing a month before the report came out, he said he based his decision on reports from the DOJ Inspector General and the FBI’s disciplinary office saying that McCabe had made unauthorized releases of information to the media (concerning disclosure of information to a Wall Street Journal reporter about an ongoing investigation into the Clinton Foundation), and had “lacked candor” in talking about it (“had “lacked candor” in talking” means “lied”)

For a reason I don’t really understand -is it really just because he has a book coming out?- McCabe did an interview with 60 minutes that aired Sunday, but from which details leaked earlier in the week. In it McCabe suggests he was fired because he opened two investigations into US President Donald Trump 10 months before Sessions ousted him.

That seems peculiar for two reasons: one, why would he have been permitted to investigate Trump for 10 months, if the investigations were the reason to fire him? And two, is McCabe suggesting that at least some colleagues inside the FBI itself did not accuse him of lying? I haven’t seen that denied before. It would mean both the DOJ Inspector General and the FBI’s disciplinary office were dead wrong.

In the 60 Minutes piece, McCabe appears to throw Rod Rosenstein, US Deputy Attorney General since April 26, 2017, under the bus by claiming that -among other things- Rosenstein offered to wear a wire when meeting with Trump, something Rosenstein has always claimed he had said in jest. McCabe now insists he was serious.

Best friends? Maybe not anymore. Then again, the ‘official’ picture is still that of two of a group of ‘real patriots’ out to save the country. Somehow that makes me think of the Three Musketeers, a dashing and swashbuckling anything goes for the fatherland. McCabe actually appears to think he had to protect America from its newly elected president, and so, ostensibly, does Rosenstein. D’Artagnan had a whole different class of foes, I recall.

Also ostensibly, two Trump cabinet members were “ready to support” a Rosenstein/DOJ scheme to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump, according to testimony last fall to the House Oversight and Judiciary Committees by James Baker, former FBI top lawyer. Who also mentioned for example Lisa Page was involved, love interest of Peter Strzok, both fired FBI officials well-known for their hate of Trump.

There’s a zillion more things to say about this, but it shouldn’t be me saying it, or any other writer or journalist. The reason I write this is to ask a very simple and obvious question: where is the Special Counsel who’s going to investigate this putrid quagmire? And when will (s)he finally be appointed? We know, we know, it’d be investigating the investigators, and who’s left for that job? Or are the investigators by now so corrupted that we might as well surrender?

Sure, Lindsey Graham wants the Senate Intelligence Committee to do an investigation, but is that the appropriate venue? Why a Special Counsel filled to the brim with FBI connected folk for Russiagate and ‘only’ a House Committee for FBI-gate? Or is that perhaps the wrong term? Does it matter?

And yes, a million voices will claim that a call for a Special Counsel investigation into the FBI and DOJ can only come from Trump supporters, but they really haven’t been paying attention.

William Barr is the new Attorney General, right, and Christopher Wray heads the FBI. Both organizations have to be very concerned about their credibility, because from the outside they look like cesspools. Rosenstein and McCabe’s swashbuckling should be enough reason, but we know much more went on and many more people were involved.

So let’s have it.

 

 

Aug 172018
 


William Hogarth Humours of an Election, Plate 2 1754

 

Two thirds of Americans want the Mueller investigation (inquisition, someone called it) over by the midterm elections. Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani has said that if Mueller wants to interview Trump, he’ll have to do so before September 1, because the Trump camp doesn’t want to be the one to unduly influence the elections. Mueller himself appears to lean towards prolonging the case, and that may well be with an eye on doing exactly that.

And there’s something else as well: as soon as the investigation wraps up, Trump will demand a second special counsel, this time to scrutinize the role the ‘other side’ has played in the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath. He’s determined to get it, and he’ll fire both Jeff Sessions and Rod Rosenstein if they try to stand in his way.

There have of course been tons of signs that it’s going to happen, but we got two significant ones just the past few days. The first is the termination of John Brennan’s security clearance. It looks impossible that no additional clearances will be revoked. There are more people who have them but would also be part of a second special counsel’s investigation. That doesn’t rhyme.

The second sign is Senator Rand Paul’s call for immunity for Julian Assange to come talk to the US senate about what he knows about Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Obviously, we know that he denies its very existence, and has offered to provide evidence to that end. But before he could do that, a potential deal with the DOJ to do so was torpedoed by then FBI chief James Comey and Senator Mark Warner.

Both will also be part of the second investigation. Rand Paul’s motivation is simple: Assange’s testimony could be a very significant part of the process of figuring out what actually happened. And that should be what everybody in Washington wants. Question is if they all really do. That’s -ostensibly- why there is the first, the Mueller Russian collusion, investigation. Truth finding.

But Mueller doesn’t appear to have found much of anything. At least, that we know of. He’s locked up Paul Manafort on charges unrelated to collusion, put him in isolation and dragged him before a jury. But don’t be surprised if Manafort is acquitted by that jury one of these days. The case against him seemed a lot more solid before than it does now. A jury that asks the judge to re-define ‘reasonable doubt’ already is in doubt, reasonable or not. And that is what reasonable doubt means.

 

But it wasn’t just Brennan and Comey and Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and all the rest of them in the intelligence community who played questionable roles around the election and the accusations of Russian meddling in it. The American media were also there, and very prominently. Which is why when 300 papers publish editorials pushing against Trump ‘attacking’ the media, you can’t help but -wryly- smile.

Why does Trump attack the press? Because they’ve been attacking him for two years, and they’re not letting go. So the press can attack the president, but he cannot fight back. That’s the rationale, but with the Mueller investigation not going anywhere it’s a hard one to keep alive.

There are three reasons for the behavior of the New York Times, WaPo, MSNBC, CNN et al. The first is political, they’re Democrat hornblowers. The second is their owners have a personal thing against Donald Trump. But these get trumped by the third reason: Trump is their golden goose. Their opposition makes them a fortune. All they need to do is publish articles 24/7 denouncing him. And they have for two years.

That puts the 300 papers’ editorials in a strange light. Many of them would have been fighting for their very lives if not for anti-Trump rhetoric. All 300 fit neatly and easily in one echo chamber. And, to put it mildly, inside that chamber, not everyone is always asking for evidence of everything that’s being said.

It’s not difficult to whoop up a storm there without crossing all your t’s. And after doing just that for 2 years and change, it seems perhaps a tad hypocritical to claim that you are honest journalists just trying to provide people with the news as it happened.

Because when you’ve published hundreds, thousands of articles about Russian meddling, and the special counsel that was named to a large degree because of those articles, fails to come up with any evidence of it, it will become obvious that you’ve not just, and honestly, been reporting the news ‘as it happened’. You have instead been making things up because you knew that would sell better.

And when the second special counsel starts, where will American media be? Sure, it may not happen before the midterms, and you may have hopes that the Democrats win those bigly, but even if that comes to pass (slim chance), Trump will still be president, and the hearings and interviews won’t be soft and mild. Also, there will be serious questions, under oath, about leaks to the press.

 

Still, whichever side of this particular fence you’re on, there’s one thing we should all be able to agree on. That is, when we get to count how many of the 300 editorials have actually mentioned, let alone defended, Julian Assange, and I’ll bet you that number is painfully close to zero, that is where we find out how honest this defense of the free press is.

If for you the free press means that you should be able to write and broadcast whatever you want, even if it’s lacking in evidence, as much of the Russiagate stuff obviously is, and you ‘forget’ to mention a man who has really been attacked and persecuted for years, for publishing files that are all about evidence, you are not honest, and therefore probably not worth saving.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks are the essence of the free press. A press that is neutral, objective, fearless and determined to get the truth out. The New York Times and CNN simply don’t fit that description -anymore-. So when their editors publish calls to protect free press, but they leave out the one person who really represents free press, and the one person who’s been tortured for exactly that, you have zero credibility.

Sure, you may appear to have credibility in your echo chamber, but that’s not where real life takes place, where evidence is available and where people can make up their own minds based on objective facts provided by real journalists.

You guys just blew this big time. You don’t care about free press, you care about your own asses. And the second special counsel is coming. Good luck. Oh, and we won’t forget your silencing of Assange, or your attacks on him. If you refuse to do it, WE will free the press.