Ads for Presidential Race Drop 60%, Hurting Local Broadcasters - Bloomberg Politics
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 00:06
Spending on political advertising during the U.S. presidential election has dropped 60 percent from 2012, a troubling sign for local TV broadcasters that were counting on a windfall.
Since late April, when Donald Trump effectively secured the Republican nomination, $146 million has been spent in the presidential race by all sponsors, compared with $373 million over the same period in 2012, according to an analysis by Ken Goldstein, a Bloomberg Politics polling and advertising analyst. That hurts station owners like Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc., Tegna Inc., and Tribune Media Co., Goldstein said.
Spending is down in part because Trump's campaign has relied instead on getting his message across in a steady stream of media interviews and tweets. There also hasn't been as much spending by Republican outside groups, such as political action committees, as there was in 2012, Goldstein said. On the Democratic side, the primary season went longer this year than four years ago as Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders battled into early summer.
''It delayed the start of general election advertising in battleground states where the real money is,'' said Goldstein, who is also a politics professor at University of San Francisco.
Things could still turn around. Trump's campaign is expected to run its first TV ads in the coming days and could spend more now. A person familiar with the matter said Trump has been getting advice from former Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes, who is considered a mastermind of political messaging. The Trump campaign has denied Ailes is advising the candidate.
The Clinton campaign has spent around $50 million on broadcast television advertising since mid-June, almost all of it in 10 battleground states. The largest ad buy last week, $2.2 million, was in Florida, though this ultimately comes out to just $83,000 for each of the state's all-important Electoral College votes. In comparison, the Democratic nominee spent more than $100,000 per Electoral College vote in Nevada and Pennsylvania.
Encouraging poll numbers have already led Clinton to pull ads in Colorado and Virginia. Looking ahead to next week, the campaign is set to decrease its ad buy in Pennsylvania and instead commit extra resources to Ohio and Iowa.
Steve Lanzano, president of the Television Bureau of Advertising, which represents the local broadcast industry, said he expects more advertising dollars to pour in to Senate races, helping cushion the blow from the lack of presidential ad spending.
''Certainly it's not what was expected,'' he said. ''But you're going to see the money coming in. It'll just come in later.''
For broadcasters, that won't make up for four months of lost revenue, Goldstein said. Sinclair shares are down 9.9 percent this year and Tegna has dropped 16 percent. Tribune Media is up 15 percent after announcing in February that it was exploring strategic options for the business.
Executives of all three companies remained optimistic about political advertising in their second-quarter conference calls. More spending than normal will come in the fourth quarter because of the Trump campaign's late fundraising push, Sinclair Chief Operating Officer David Amy said earlier this month.
Dave Lougee, president of Tegna's media division, said last month that there's a flip side to the ''Trump factor'' -- some states that have previously been solidly Republican, such as Georgia, are in now in play and drawing advertising spending.
''The bottom-line: Spending for all races is now beginning and accelerating fast, as expected,'' he said.
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Huma say Hillary Is ''Often Confused'' | Real Science
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 00:56
Democrats want to put a congenitally lying, corrupt, disloyal sociopath in the White House '' who is often confused and the FBI says is incapable of handling sensitive information.
Huma Abedin warned colleagues Hillary Clinton was 'often confused' | Daily Mail Online
The Clinton memorandum
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 09:59
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20510 December 18, 2008 The Honorabl United States Senate Washington, DC 20510 Dear Senator & Yesterday, our offices received from the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team ("transition team") the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) entered into by the Willian1 J. Clinton Foundation and the Office ofthe President-Elect on December 12, 2008. This MoU is designed to establish greater transparency and predictability with regard to the activities of the Clinton Foundation in the context of Senator Clinton's service as Secretary of State. We suggested that the MoU should be shared with all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the earliest date possible. The transition team agreed and asked us to forward it to you. The MoU is effective as of the date of signature by the aforementioned parties. If Senator Clinton is confirmed by the Senate, the MoU will continue until she ceases to serve as the Secretary of State. If you have any questions, please contact Frank Lowenstein and Michael Mattler of our respective staffs. They can provide further background or put you in touch with the appropriate members of the transition team. John F. Kef;' Sincerely, ~~ Richard G. Lugar
L MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTAJ."(DING December 12, 2008 This Agreement ("Agreement") Is dated as ofthis 12th day of December, 2008 and entered into by and between the William J. Clinton Foundation (the Foundation), an Arkansas not-far-profit corporation, located at 1200 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock, Arkansas (hereinafter referred to as "the Foundation"), and the Office oftbe President-Elect, a 501(c)(4) entity, located at 451 6th St., NW, Washington, DC (hereinafter referred to as "PTT"). \VHEREAS, in considering Senator Clinton's potential service as Secretary of5tate, the Parties seek to ensure that the Foundation may continue its important philanthropic activities around the world, which do valuable and critical work in areas such as tHV/AIDS, climate change and economic deve!upment. \VHEREAS, the Parties also seek to ensure that the activities ofthe Foundation, however beneficial, do not create conflicts or the appearance ofcant1icts for Senator Clinton as Secretary of State. \VHEREAS the Parties have agreed to a set of protocols that 1-vouJd apply to the Foundation's activities to supplement any existing State Department protocols for managing conflicts of interests, and the appearance ofconflicts of interest, as determined by the State Department's designated agency ethics official. VVHEREAS, the Parties seek to memorialize the mutually agreeable protocols related to the activities ofthe Foundation during the period in which Senator HHlary Clinton SerVeS in the ObamaAdministration. NOW, THEREFORE, it is hereby agreed as follows: Bad::ground Oil the Clinton Foundation A single entity, the William J. Clinton Foundation, is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization comprised ofthe Presidential Library and seven initiatives: the Clinton EIV/AIDS Initiative ("CHAI), the Clinton Climme Initiative ("CCl"), the Clinton Hunter Development Initiative ("CEDI"), the Clinton Giustra Sustainable Grov,ih Initiative CCGSGI"), the Clinton Economic Opportunity Initiative ("CEO"), the Alliance for a Healthier Generation ("ldIG"), and the Clinton Global Initiative ("CGr). Over the past eight years, the Foundation has gro'vvn into a global nongovernmental organization ,'lith 1,100 staff and volunteers in more tban 40 countries and \vith otllces in Nev,,' Yark, New York, Little Roc k, Arkansas, Boston, Tvfassachusetts, and other cities around the world. The Foundation, working in collaboration \\lith governments and other partners, makes a significant impact in the lives ofhundred ofmiHions ofpeople around the \vorld: 1.4 million people liYing with HXV/AIDS nmv have access to lifesaving drugs
because ofthe CHAI; more than 1, I00 cities have access to affordable, clean-energy products through CCl's purchasing aJliancc; cm members have made over 1,000 commitments to impact more than 200 million lives in 100 countries; over 1,000 schools in the United States are receiving hands-on assistance to promote healthier learning environments though AGH; through a partnership between CEO and Inc. magazine, inner city businesses are matchedvvith successful business leaders to provide entrepreneur mentoring; and CHDI and CGSGI are fostering sustainable development in Africa and Latin America. Like many 501(c)(3) entities, the Foundation has provided each donor with the freedom to decide \vhethertopubHcize their contribution. Since its inception, Foundation supporters therefore have contributed with the expectation that their contributions are private unless tbey choose to share them. Presidential Library The William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas, opened its doors to the public in November 2004. Since then, more than one mHlion visitors from ali 50 states and from around the worId have visited the Library. The facility features exhibits chronicling President Clinton's administration and presidency. In addition, the Library, hosts a number of special events and exhibits each year. The Library has also fostered an unprecedented economic revitalization in downtown Little Rock, helping to bring over $2.0 biIlion in public and private economic development. The Clinton Presidential Library has been awarded the platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification, making it the only tederally maintained facility to receive this recognition. Clinton HIVIAIDS Initiative CHAI is helping to tum the tide of the global pandemic by working with partner governments and other NGOs to establish integrated care, treatment and prevention programs. Over 70 countries have access to medicine and diagnostics at reduced CHAI prices through its Procurement Consortium program. CHAr has staff on the ground in more than 20 countries, vvorking with host governments to help them scale up care and treatment. CHAT's eft
What Are Donald Trump, Roger Ailes, and Steve Bannon Really Up To? - The New Yorker
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 10:12
What better way to mark the news that the head of Breitbart.com, the alt-right news site, is now running Donald Trump's campaign than with a conspiracy theory? And, unlike some of the conspiracy theories that appear on Breitbart, this one might actually be true.
The theory making the rounds is that Trump's latest campaign reshuffle isn't really about trying to win the election. In bringing in Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of Breitbart News, and recruiting Roger Ailes, the disgraced former head of Fox News, as an adviser, Trump is making a business play: he's laying the groundwork for a new conservative media empire to challenge Fox.
The official story is that the shakeup'--which saw Paul Manafort, Trump's campaign chairman, eclipsed'--is all about defeating Hillary Clinton. ''I have known Steve and Kellyanne both for many years,'' Trump said in a press release announcing the changes, referring to Bannon and Kellyanne Conway, a pollster he brought in to be his new campaign manager. ''They are extremely capable, highly qualified people who love to win and know how to win.'' In an interview with the Wall Street Journal's Monica Langley and Janet Hook, who broke the story, Trump added, ''I'm going to do whatever it takes and do it the way I think will win.'' As for Ailes, the Trump campaign denies that he is playing any official role. (It hasn't denied the New York Times revelation that Ailes met with Trump on Sunday in New Jersey.)
Does this official explanation withstand inspection? Hardly.
Trump's got a core group of supporters who love his nativist, outsider shtick and pack his rallies. There is another chunk of voters who have reservations about Trump, but who are so disgusted with regular politicians, or who are so opposed to Hillary Clinton, that they have decided to back the Republican nominee. It's been clear for months, however, that these two groups make up, at most, about forty per cent of the electorate. To beat Clinton, Trump would have to win over many more Americans who have an unfavorable view of him. (According to the Huffington Post poll average, this group makes up about two-thirds of the electorate.) That's not media bias: it's arithmetic.
For months now, Manafort and other Republicans have been trying to get Trump to broaden his appeal by urging him to stay on message and act a bit more Presidential. Trump chafed at this advice'--last week he admitted as much to Time magazine'--and now he has cast it aside. In turning to Bannon, he is embracing a right-wing enrag(C) whose business is appealing to ultra-conservative Tea Party types. (Two headlines from today's Breitbart home page: ''Clinton 'Does Paid Errands' for Russian Oligarchs''; ''Roger Stone on Huma Abedin's 'Very Clear Ties to Radical Offshoots of Islam.' '')
The appointment of Bannon isn't merely another affront to establishment Republicans, such as Paul Ryan, whom Breitbart News has lately been targeting. It is an acknowledgment by Trump that he no longer has any interest in modifying his strategy to appeal to college-educated voters in places like the suburbs of Philadelphia and Milwaukee, where he is running miles behind where Mitt Romney was in 2012. Instead, he has decided to retreat to his base, which is a surefire recipe for political failure. But not necessarily business failure.
Back in June, Vanity Fair's Sarah Ellison reported that Trump was ''considering creating his own media business, built on the audience that has supported him thus far in his bid to become the next president of the United States.'' A person briefed on Trump's thinking told Ellison that it went like this: ''Win or lose, we are onto something here. We've triggered a base of the population that hasn't had a voice in a long time.'' One of Ellison's sources also reported that Trump resents the fact that he has helped raise the ratings of certain news organizations, such as CNN, without getting a cut of the additional revenues. Trump has ''gotten the bug,'' the source said, ''so now he wants to figure out if he can monetize it.''
Bannon, a former investment banker who took over Breitbart News in 2012, after the sudden death of its eponymous founder, also has large ambitions, and they involve taking on the mighty Fox News. In a lengthy column posted earlier this month, Bannon compared the burgeoning rivalry between Breitbart and Fox to the Peloponnesian War. ''The incumbent Athenians might as well know that the Spartans are coming for them, and there's not a damn thing they can do about it,'' he wrote. ''Indeed, more Spartans are joining us every day.''
Right now, the idea of Breitbart going head to head against Fox seems fanciful. Fox News isn't merely the most popular cable news network; in prime time, it's the most popular cable channel of all, beating out entertainment networks like Disney and USA. Financial analysts reckon that it creates an annual profit of about $1.5 billion. Breitbart, despite the fact that it has been growing rapidly, is still a medium-sized Web site. Alexa, the analytics company, ranks Breitbart thirtieth among news sites, just behind the New York Post and a few spots above The Atlantic.
But what if Trump and Breitbart could team up, raise some money from outside investors, and bring aboard some of the television executives who built Fox News? As part of his lucrative severance package from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, Ailes almost certainly signed a noncompete agreement. But how long does it last? And does it preclude him from providing some informal advice to an old friend?
Bannon already has some ideas of his own. He believes that Fox News is drifting away from its core conservative viewers, and that, with Murdoch's sons, James and Lachlan, increasingly calling some of the shots at Fox's parent company, this process is likely to continue. ''The Murdoch sons, aka the Minor Murdochs, think Fox is too conservative, too Roger Ailes-like, too Middle American,'' Bannon wrote in his column. ''And they have a plan to fix that.''
We can be assured that a TBN (Trump Breitbart News) Network wouldn't shy away from the conservative, or even the ''alt-conservative,'' label. It would be nationalistic, xenophobic, and conspiratorial. If it featured regular appearances by Trump, and if it managed to poach some of the Fox News stars who are friendly toward him, such as Sean Hannity, it might even make money. And that, we all know, is something Trump has always been interested in. But, as I said up top, it's only a conspiracy theory.
Trump Silent As Louisiana Governor Reveals Why Obama Hasn't Visited
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 10:18
The devastating floods in Louisiana that have killed at least 13 and left thousands without a home or any possessions are dominating the media, and conservatives have been vocally denouncing President Obama for not ending his yearly vacation early to visit Louisiana. However, Obama's detractors have been ignoring the fact that a presidential visit would harm, not help, the people of Louisiana.
Governor John Bel Edwards, makes it clear that if Obama visited first and second responders will not be able to do their jobs effectively. He explains,
It is a major ordeal, they free up the interstate for him. We have to take hundreds of local first responders, police officers, sheriffs, deputies and state troopers to provide security for that type of visit. I would just as soon have those people engaged in the response rather than trying to secure the president. So I'd ask him to wait, if he would, another couple weeks.
Republicans claim that Democrats are hypocrites for criticizing President Bush in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. However, the problem with the Bush Administration was that it left the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) woefully unprepared to help the American people in the wake of any disaster. In contrast to the chaos of the Katrina efforts, the response to the 2016 Louisiana floods has been swift and effective, saving hundreds, if not thousands, of lives.
Republican nominee Donald Trump was loudly slamming the President for not ending his vacation early and rushing to visit the beleaguered state '' but has yet to respond to these new developments. On the other hand, Governor Edwards issued a sharp rebuke to Trump for attempting to exploit the tragedy for his own political gain.
Conservative critics of President Obama make claims that appeal to emotions, but rarely stand up to scrutiny. The Louisiana floods are yet another of example of a poor attempt to use a tragic event to make misleading, false claims against the President. Obama is doing exactly what local authorities think he should do to benefit affected Louisianians. Let's put human wellbeing over partisan politics.
Hillary's Handler Disappears From Campaign Trail After Alt-Media Points Him Out
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 17:09
Hillary Clinton's mysterious handler has disappeared.
In recent bizarre events on the campaign trail a strange man was noticed at Hillary Clinton's side.Via Mike Cernovich:
Hillary's Handler? Brain washer? pic.twitter.com/5lsCTc8Vdk
'-- Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) August 7, 2016
** Danger and Play has much more.
The man is dressed like a secret service agent but his actions prove otherwise.In a recent campaign stop in a Union Hall in front of a sparse crowd, at about the time when some liberal protesters began to protest, Hillary Clinton suddenly froze. She looked dazed and lost. Seeing this, a group of men rushed to assist the candidate on the stage. One man however gently pats the candidate's back and then says, ''Keep Talking.''
Secret Service agents walk on stage during Hillary Clinton rally https://t.co/Btp1na4Pxt
'-- ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 4, 2016
An expert on Secret Service tactics told TGP Secret Service agents would not touch a candidate in the manner that this individual did and especially Hillary Clinton. It has been widely reported on Hillary's disdain for the agents who work to protect her. The man who touches Hillary may be a member of Hillary's close staff '' but he is NOT a Secret Service agent.
Now this'...Mike Cernovich pointed out that Hillary's handler carries what looks like a Diazepam pen.
** Diazepam auto-injector pens are used for for Acute Repetitive Seizures.Diazepam is prescribed for patients who experience recurrent seizures!
Twitter user Azusa posted this earlier.
The Ralph Retort reported:
Secret Service agent was carrying an auto-injector with Diazepam pic.twitter.com/6d3B5mmaOe
'-- Azusa (@PositiveInt) August 8, 2016
Hillary's handler was definitely carrying what looks like an auto-syringe at the DNC Convention on Hillary's big night.
Hillary has a medic carrying diazepam? @TWA2Garp@SoonerGirl000@PositiveIntpic.twitter.com/9SmooVJZFp
'-- Skip Trace_ (@skiptrace_) August 8, 2016
Now this'...Hillary's mysterious handler has disappeared from the campaign trail.He's gone and poor Hillary is on her own.
Where's Hillary's handler?
Black mystery man (doctor?) hasn't been seen since alt media pointed him out 11 days ago pic.twitter.com/PpxV3IS1Kl
'-- AltRighty.'com' (@RealAltRighty) August 16, 2016
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FBI Probes Firm Belonging To Brother Of Clinton Campaign Chair For Ukraine Corruption Ties
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 18:26
The top political news on Friday was the unexpected resignation of Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, which was the result of emerging revelations that his political consulting firm, DMP International, had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation in the period 2012-2014 on behalf of Ukraine's then ruling political party, attempting to sway American public opinion in favor of the country's pro-Russian government (which was overthrown in a CIA-orchestrated coup in early 2014).
As the AP reported yesterday, the lobbying included attempts to gain positive press coverage of Ukrainian officials in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press. Another goal: undercutting American public sympathy for the imprisoned rival of Ukraine's then-president. At the time, European and American leaders were pressuring Ukraine to free her. Furthermore, under the U.S. Foreign Agents Registration Act (or FARA), US entities who lobby on behalf of foreign political leaders or political parties must provide detailed reports about their actions to the Justice Department.
The 1938 U.S. foreign agents law is intended to track efforts of foreign government's unofficial operatives in the United States. A violation is a felony and can result in up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The issue is that neither Paul Manafort, nor his deputy, Rick Gates, disclosed their work as foreign agents as required under federal law. "There is no question that Gates and Manafort should have registered along with the lobbying firms," said Joseph Sandler of Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, a Democratic-leaning Washington law firm that advises Republican and Democratic lobbyists.
Now if this was the extent of the violations, it would be an open and shut case of potential non-disclosure of lobbying on behalf of a foreign (soon to be overthrown) government, one which could result in felony charges and potential prison time for employees of DMP International, up to and including Manafort. Which is why it is clear why Trump had to quickly get rid of Manafort as his ongoing presence was a major risk factor overhanging the entire Trump campaign, one which could even lead to incarceration and ongoing accusations of pro-Russian influence.
It also explains why as CNN reported yesterday, the FBI and DOJ prosecutors have started a probe into possible US ties to alleged corruption of the former pro-Russian president of Ukraine, including the work of Paul Manafort's firm, according to multiple US law enforcement officials. "The investigation is broad and is looking into whether US companies and the financial system were used to aid alleged corruption by the party of former president Viktor Yanukovych."
* * *
However, where things get trickier is that in addition to Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates, other, far more prominent firms are also implicated, chief among them the Podesta Group, headed by Tony Podesta - the brother of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
Tony Podesta, the Podesta Group
As reported yesterday, emails obtained by the Associated Press showed that Gates personally directed two Washington lobbying firms, Mercury LLC and the Podesta Group, between 2012 and 2014 to set up meetings between a top Ukrainian official and senators and congressmen on influential committees involving Ukrainian interests. Gates noted in the emails that the official, Ukraine's foreign minister, did not want to use his own embassy in the United States to help coordinate the visits.
The emails further illustrate how Gates worked with Mercury and the Podesta Group on behalf of Ukrainian political leaders. None of the firms, nor Manafort or Gates, disclosed their work to the Justice Department counterespionage division responsible for tracking the lobbying of foreign governments.
And this is where the plot thickens, because while the bulk of the press has so far spun the entire Ukraine lobbying scandal, which led to Manafort's resignation, as the latest "proof" that pro-Moscow powers were influencing not only Manafort but the Trump campaign in general (who some democrats have even painted of being a Putin agent), the reality is that a firm closely tied with the Democratic party, the Podesta Group, is just as implicated.
As AP further adds, the European Center for a Modern Ukraine, a Brussels-linked nonprofit entity which allegely ran the lobbying project, paid Mercury and the Podesta Group a combined $2.2 million over roughly two years. In papers filed in the U.S. Senate, Mercury and the Podesta Group listed the European nonprofit as an independent, nonpolitical client. The firms said the center stated in writing that it was not aligned with any foreign political entity.
Sure enough, the chairman of the Podesta Group, Tony Podesta, brother of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, repeated the excuse and said his firm believed Gates was working for the nonprofit. Podesta said he was unaware of the firm's work for the Ukraine's Party of Regions, led by Yanukovych. On Thursday, his firm said it had nothing new to add. As BuzzFeed added yesterday, Podesta Group CEO Kimberly Fritts also said in a statement on Thursday that ''we were not aware that Rick Gates was a Party of Regions consultant at the time he introduced us to the Centre. We believed he was working for the Centre, as we were hired to do.''
Now political consultants are generally leery of registering under the FARA, and disclosing foreign government clients, because their reputations tends to suffer once they are on record as accepting money to advocate the interests of foreign governments - especially if those interests conflict with America's. Moreover, registering under the law would have required Gates, Manafort or the lobbying firms to disclose the specifics of their lobbying work and their efforts to sway public opinion through media outreach.
However, now that the FBI is involved, Podesta Group has quickly lawyered up and as a statement by CEO Fritts reveals, the firm has hired an outside legal counsel in anticipatory defense for what may be a significant legal battle for the pro-democratic think tank:
''The firm has retained Caplin & Drysdale as independent, outside legal counsel to determine if we were misled by the Centre for a Modern Ukraine or any other individuals with regard to the Centre's potential ties to foreign governments or political parties. When the Centre became a client, it certified in writing that 'none of the activities of the Centre are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized in whole or in part by a government of a foreign country or a foreign political party.' We relied on that certification and advice from counsel in registering and reporting under the Lobbying Disclosure Act rather than the Foreign Agents Registration Act. We will take whatever measures are necessary to address this situation based on Caplin & Drysdale's review, including possible legal action against the Centre.''
A quick primer on Tony Podesta: born 1943, he is an American lobbyist best known for founding the Podesta Group. Podesta has lobbied for a variety of groups, including Bank of America, BP, and Egypt in addition to political campaigns such as Ted Kennedy, George McGovern, Michael Dukakis, and Bill Clinton. More recently, he has worked for Pennsylvania Democratic representatives Joe Sestak, Chris Carney, and Patrick Murphy, and chaired former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell's reelection campaign. He is closely connected with the Barack Obama White House and has repeatedly been named one of Washington's most powerful lobbyists and fundraisers.
An interesting tangent on the power of the Podesta Group was revealed back in 2009 in a brief US News expose:
When the White House proved true to its promise of full disclosure by releasing a list of recent West Wing visitors, the headlines went to the big donors like George Soros, the big movie stars like George Clooney, and the mega-union bosses like Andy Stern of the Service Employees International Union.
But to insiders, the list showed something else: The power of the Podesta family. Between them, Obama adviser and former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta; his brother, lobbyist Tony Podesta; and Tony's lobbying wife Heather made 25 visits. By comparison, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made one visit.
For John Podesta, the rise as one of Washington's influentials is richly deserved. He runs the Center for American Progress, which has become a very influential policy shop for the Democrats. He also was Obama's transition chief. According to the White House list, he met with the president twice and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel three times. As for the Podesta lobbying husband-and-wife team, their legendary influence has now been stamped with the White House seal of approval.
The Democratic White House's seal of approval that is. Some other examples of Podesta Group clients lientele over the years according to Open Secrets: BAE Systems, BP, Credit Suisse Group, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, General Electric, KKR & Co, Lockheed Martin, Monsanto Co, Wal-Mart Stores and Wells Fargo. Of course, this is just a small fraction and you can examine the entire list here.
Where things get even trickier is when looking at recent disclosures of who we know the Podesta Group has received substantial cash from. Namely Saudi Arabia. Recall from an April 2016 article in The Hill, discussing the fallout from the disclosure of Saudi ties in the Sept 11 terrorist attack, which as reported previously, was initially heavily frowned upon by the Saudis:
Five of the firms work for the Saudi Arabia Embassy, while another two '-- Podesta Group and BGR Group '-- have registered to represent the Center for Studies and Media Affairs at the Saudi Royal Court, an arm of the government.
* * *
The dispute is causing a diplomatic storm for the Obama administration; Saudi Arabia has long been an ally of the U.S. despite the country's history of abusing human rights.
The country has some top-flight representation in Washington '-- at a hefty price tag.
The Podesta Group is billing Saudi Arabia $140,000 a month for its public relations services. During the last few months of 2015, it sent 27 emails, had two phone calls and one meeting with lawmakers and staffers, journalists, and organizations including Human Rights Watch and the Center for American Progress, disclosure forms show.
Most recently, however, the Podesta Group made a curious appearance in early June, when the website Middle-East Eye caught a shocking statement by the Jordan News Agency (Petra), revealed that the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made various traditionally diplomatic statements about the US ahead of his visit to the US, which also included the stunning claim that Riyadh has provided 20% of the total funding to the prospective Democratic candidate's campaign, something which is considered illegal. This is what bin Salman was quoted as saying:
"Saudi Arabia always has sponsored both Republican and Democratic Party of America and in America current election also provide with full enthusiasm 20 percent of the cost of Hillary Clinton's election even though some events in the country don't have a positive look to support the king of a woman (sic) for presidency."
Below is a screenshot of the English report published, and which then was quickly deleted, by the Petra News Agency
However, according to an update by MEE just the next day, a spokesperson for the Podesta Group contacted MEE to say that they work with the Saudi Royal Court and to request a correction to the earlier story that said the Jordanian news agency had deleted the quotes from Prince Mohammed.
Senior global communications specialist Will Bohlen - who, prior to joining Podesta, was chief researcher for a best-selling history of Bill Clinton's presidency - sent a link to a clarification issued by the Petra News Agency which said it was "totally false and untrue" that they had published then deleted the quotes from Prince Mohammed about funding the Clinton campaign.
"A technical failure on Petra 's website occurred for a few minutes on Sunday evening, 12 June 2016," the Jordanian news agency said. "Protection systems at the agency as well as the technical department noticed that and therefore, they suspended the transmission system and the electronic site and moved to the alternative website.
"Later, it became clear that the technical failure that occurred was an attempt to hack the agency's transmission system and its website. The agency was surprised to see some media outlets as well as the social media publishing false news that were attributed to Petra. They said that Petra transmitted a news item related to the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia and later deleted this news item. This is totally false and untrue."
As we said at the time, "one can see why Podesta would be worried: it is illegal in the United States for foreign countries to try and influence the outcome of elections by funding candidates. Naturally, Bohlen said he could confirm that Saudi Arabia has provided no funding to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. The question is now that the cat is out of the bag, can others?"
For the record, we find the story that someone would hack the Jordanian News Agency to insert a boring interview with a Saudi crown prince, hard to believe and if anything, the involvement of the Podesta Group dramatically increases the odds that what the Saudi prince revealed may have been the unvarnished truth.
We concluded by saying that "we leave it up to readers to decide how credible the Podesta-inspired explanation by Petra is that someone would hack the Jordanian news agency just to insert an interview with the Saudi deputy crown prince, which said nothing inflamatory, or defamatory, but merely made reference to just how much money the Saudis had spent on getting Hillary elected. In many other nations, merely these revelations should have been sufficient for the mainstream media to probe and inquire further to find out just how much of the Podesta statement is a lie, how deep are the inherent, and allegedly illegal, conflicts of interest if indeed Saudi Arabia has been funding a potential future US president, both directly and indirectly, and how much money the Saudis have spent on Hillary's presidential campaign: an easy check by the authorities who monitor every wire transfer out of the Kingdom and its agents."
* * *
For now, the Clinton campaign has avoided any outside focus whether the Saudis have indeed ilegally funded it by millions of dollars, meaning the Podesta Group has done its job. However, the ironic twist is that with Manafort having become the fall guy for the Ukraine lobbying and corruption scandal, the very Podesta Group which is the stalwart defender of Hillary's presidential campaign, run incidentally by the brother of the firm's founder, is now being investigated in a totally separate matter.
Alas, if the recent interaction between the FBI and Hillary Clinton is any indication, we doubt much more will be revealed, and this latest scandal will quickly quiet down, even if it appears that Democrats were as involved in Ukraine illegal lobbying as Paul Manafort himself.
Finally, we wonder if now that the media is so clearly focused on Ukrainian money flows into the US, if it will just as ardently pursue a story first reported last March by the WSJ which revealed that the Clinton Foundation had received millions of dollars from a Ukrainian oligarch who between 2009 and 2013 had been pushing for closer ties to the European Union:
Between 2009 and 2013, including when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state, the Clinton Foundation received at least $8.6 million from the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, according to that foundation, which is based in Kiev, Ukraine. It was created by Mr. Pinchuk, whose fortune stems from a pipe-making company. He served two terms as an elected member of the Ukrainian Parliament and is a proponent of closer ties between Ukraine and the European Union.
In 2008, Mr. Pinchuk made a five-year, $29 million commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative, a wing of the foundation that coordinates charitable projects and funding for them but doesn't handle the money. The pledge was to fund a program to train future Ukrainian leaders and professionals ''to modernize Ukraine,'' according to the Clinton Foundation. Several alumni are current members of the Ukrainian Parliament. Actual donations so far amount to only $1.8 million, a Pinchuk foundation spokesman said, citing the impact of the 2008 financial crisis.
The Pinchuk foundation said its donations were intended to help to make Ukraine ''a successful, free, modern country based on European values.'' It said that if Mr. Pinchuk was lobbying the State Department about Ukraine, ''this cannot be seen as anything but a good thing.''
In 2014, the well-funded wishes of the Pinchuk Foundation were ultimately realized when Ukraine, with the help of the US State Department (recall from February 2014: ""F**k The EU" - US State Department Blasts Europe; Revealed As Alleged Mastermind Behind Ukraine Unrest"), underwent a violent presidential coup, which led to the exile of then-president Viktor Yanukovich, a far "closer" relationship between Ukraine and Europe, the appointment of Joe Biden's son, Hunter, on the board of Ukraine energy giant Burisma Holdings, and the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
Alas, we doubt that anyone in the media will pursue allegations that a Ukraine billionaire was funding the Clinton Campaign - with a very specific goal in mind - with the same effort as it did to show how Paul Manafort had been in bed with Pinchuk's number one opponent.
53% Of Clinton Foundation Donors Would Be Barred Under Proposed Rule
Sun, 21 Aug 2016 00:07
On Thursday evening, alongside Trump's unexpected statement of "regret", Bill Clinton made another just as important announcement when he said that should Hillary become president, the $2 billion Clinton Family foundation will no longer accept money from any corporate and foreign donors and will bring an end to its annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting regardless of the outcome of the November election. To this we responded that this was to be expected: after all "once Hillary is president, she will no longer need a backdoor way of legally receiving Saudi and other foreign money: at that moment, billions in Saudi dollars will be deemed perfectly acceptable for passage through the front door, mostly in exchange for weapons and ammo."
Other had similar reactions, with the announcement drawing skepticism on Friday mostly from the right left as critics wondered why the Clintons have never before cut off corporate and overseas money to their charity, and more importantly why they would wait until after the election to do so. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted Friday that the Clintons' continued acceptance of those dollars during the presidential campaign is a ''massive, ongoing conflict of interest."
The left also spoke up, when Nina Turner, a former Ohio state senator who was a leading surrogate for Clinton's rival in the Democratic primary race, Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), said the restrictions were a good step but should be imposed immediately. ''In my opinion, and in the opinion of lots of Americans, this should have been done long ago,'' she said.
As it turns out, the self-impossed restrictions would be more stringent than those put in place while Clinton was secretary of state - ironically when the temptation to bribe the top US diplomat was far higher - when the foundation was merely required to seek State Department approval to accept new donations from foreign governments, permitting the charity to accept millions of dollars from governments and wealthy interests all over the world. They would also be stricter than the policy adopted when Clinton launched her campaign that placed some limits on foreign government funding but allowed corporate and individual donations, for the simple reason that Hillary was willing the accept cash for any and all future favors.
Others questioned why Clinton had now decided that the foundation should rule out donations that she apparently thought were acceptable during her tenure as the country's top diplomat. ''Is it ok to accept foreign and corporate money when Secretary of State but not when POTUS???'' Donald Trump Jr., son of the Republican nominee, tweeted Thursday night.
But how much of the Foundation cash actually came from abroad? According to a WaPo analysis of disclosed donors, more than half of the Clinton Foundation's major donors would be prevented from contributing to the charity under the proposed self-imposed ban. The analysis, which examined donor lists posted on the foundation's website, found that 53% of the donors who have given $1 million or more to the charity are corporations or foreign citizens, groups or governments.
The list includes the governments of Saudi Arabia and Australia, the British bank Barclay's, and major U.S. companies such as Coca-Cola and ExxonMobil.
According to public record, there are at least 59 donors who "donated" between $1 and $5 million, 5 who donated between $5 and $10 million, 11 who donated between $10 and $25 million, and 2 who donated in the top, $25+ million bracket (the full bracket breakdown can be found here).
As the WaPo puts it, "the findings underscore the extent to which the Clintons' sprawling global charity has come to rely on financial support from industries and overseas interests, a point that has drawn criticism from Republicans and some liberals who have said the donations represent conflicts of interest for a potential president."
The foundation's spokesman had a canned, prepared response: Craig Minassian said that the limits would be imposed ''to avoid perception issues while ensuring the people who depend on our programs continue to be served.''
But isn't blocking outside funding essentally confirming that all the Foundation does is peddle influence, and confirming all those "perception issues"? Issues such as this: nearly half of likely voters, 47%, said they were bothered a lot by the foundation's acceptance of money from foreign countries while Clinton was secretary of state, according to a Bloomberg News poll in June. That's similar to the 45% of voters who were bothered by Trump's refusal to release his tax returns.
Minassian did not directly answer questions about why the restrictions would be tighter than they were when Clinton was at State. As for why they would not be imposed until after the election, he said that the foundation did not want to presume the outcome and that taking action ''before then would needlessly hurt people who are being helped by our charitable work around the world.''
There are other questions: why - if Hillary loses - will the foundation continue to accept foreign cash, even if it would henceforth suggest the pandering to wealthy foreign special interest groups; although the answer is quickly answered - should Hillary lose, her political career, and her presidential aspirations will be finished, and as such nobody will donate further as no possible future favors could be recovered from a post-loss Hillary.
Another relevant point, brought up by WaPo, is that the announcement of the new rules is unlikely to defuse the foundation as a potent campaign issue.
Critics seized on the fact that the restrictions would go into effect only in November, if Clinton was elected, meaning donors could race to give money before the deadline '-- but in time to curry favor with a Democratic nominee who is leading in the polls. The left-leaning columnist Jonathan Chait wrote on the website of New York magazine Friday that the new policy is an ''inadequate response to the conflicts of interest inherent in the Clinton Foundation'' and demonstrates that Clinton ''has not fully grasped the severity of her reputational problem.''
Even with the restrictions wealthy individuals would have the opportunity to use foundation donations as ''chits'' he said. ''Ultimately, there is no way around this problem without closing down the Clinton Foundation altogether,'' he wrote.
Which also confirms what many critics - mostly on the right - had been saying all along, namely that it is not a question of when the Foundation should be shuttered, but why it has accepted hundreds of millions in mostly foreign donations over the years, which is the clearest form of buying favors from a person who has never made a secret of her intention of being US president one day.
Finally, while the fate of the Clinton Foundation is being decided, Hillary's key financial backers continue to make their presence felt, and as Politico reported today, just two megadonors accounted for almost two-thirds of the July contributions to Hillary Clinton's main super PAC in July. They were investors Donald Sussman, founder of the Paloma Partner hedge fund, and Daniel Abraham, each gave $3 million to Priorities USA Action. The super PAC's total haul was $9.9 million, down from $11.9 million in June. The group finished July with $38.7 million cash on hand.
Other donors included Jay Robert and Mary Kathryn Pritzker with $450,000 each and, of course, billionaire George Soros, who gave $35,308.
Report: U.S. Transfers Nukes From Turkish Airbase to Romania - Middle East News - Haaretz
Fri, 19 Aug 2016 22:14
The reported move comes after a U.S.-based think tank said the stockpile, consisting of 50 nuclear bombs, is at risk of being captured by 'terrorists or other hostile forces.'
A United States Navy airplane about to land at the Incirlik Air Base, in the outskirts of the city of Adana, southern Turkey, July 29, 2015. APThe U.S. has started transferring American nuclear weapons stationed at an airbase in southeastern Turkey to Romania, the independent Euractiv website reported on Thursday.
The reported move comes after a U.S.-based think tank said on Monday that the stockpile at Incirlik airbase, which consists of some 50 nuclear bombs, was at risk of being captured by "terrorists or other hostile forces."
"It's not easy to move 20 plus nukes," a source told Euractiv, adding that the transfer to the Romanian base of Deveselu has posed technical and political challenges. The report noted that the move has especially enraged Russia.
The Romanian Foreign Ministry strongly denied that any U.S. nuclear weapons were transferred to Romania.
While critics have long been alarmed about the nuclear stockpile at Incirlik airbase, the aftermath of the failed military coup in Turkey on July 15 has sparked renewed fear.
"Whether the U.S. could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a protracted civil conflict in Turkey is an unanswerable question," said the Stimson Center report.
Incirlik, located just 110 kilometers (70 miles) from the border with Syria, is a major NATO base and a crucial launching pad for the U.S.-led coalition battling ISIS.
Incirlik hosts aircraft from the United States, Germany, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Qatar involved in the U.S.-led air campaign against ISIS.
In an interview in July, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had appeared to suggest Ankara could open up Incirlik to Russia, a move that could raise concern among Turkey's NATO partners already using the base.
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Hundreds of US politicians made trips to Turkey financed by G¼lenist terror-cult - Daily Sabah
Fri, 19 Aug 2016 22:23
A documentary film project focusing on the G¼lenist Terror Group (FET) web of charter schools in the United States exposes a list of high-level U.S. officials who went on trips to Turkey between 2006 and 2013 that were reportedly funded by FET.
The list exposed by the film "Killing Ed" shows senators, congressman, mayors, justices, police officials and other officials, including U.S. Senator Richard Lugar (Indiana) and Governor Bill Richardson (New Mexico), who visited Turkey. The trips, which reportedly cost about $15,000-$30,000 per person, were funded by G¼lenist groups in the U.S.
Although politicians are obliged to report any sorts of donations received to U.S. authorities, "Killing Ed" claims that these trips were not deemed as donations, but rather were classified as friendship gestures or educational activities.
The pre-2013 controversial trips raise questions concerning links between U.S. politicians and terror-cult activities, including issues related to campaign funding from FET-linked organizations in the United States. A politician in the U.S. must raise a significant amount of money to run an election campaign. House members, on average, need to raise $1.5 million, and Senators need to raise $6-10 million on average.
No member of Congress "has accepted a privately sponsored trip to Turkey since May 2015, with the exception of one congressman who made an August trip sponsored by a Norwegian group," according to an article in USA Today.
An Office of Congressional Ethics probe in 2015 revealed that G¼len-linked organizations hid the true source of funding for nearly 200 trips.
According to data collected by USA Today, the number of privately funded trips to Turkey in 2010 fell to just 100 by the second half of 2015.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation also launched a probe into FET charter schools amid accusations of financial and legal corruption.
On July 15, a G¼lenist faction, led by the U.S.-based figure Fetullah G¼len, within the Turkish military attempted a deadly coup that killed more than 240 people and injured nearly 2,200 others.
Regarding G¼len's extradition to Turkey, Ankara has submitted repeated formal requests along with boxes of evidence to the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as information that illustrates the group's well-known motives to directly target Turkey's democratically elected government. Testimony from leading figures involved in the coup attempt point to G¼len as being responsible for the attempted coup, but America continues to display reluctance with regards to his extradition, demanding that Turkey provide "hard evidence."
Below is a list of officials that went on trips to Turkey paid by the G¼lenist terror cult:
US Senator Richard Lugar (Indiana)US Congressman Bob Filner (California)Mayor Bill White, Houston (Texas)US Congressman Matt Salmon (Arizona)Sheriff Leroy D. Baca (Los Angeles County)US Congressman Ted Poe (Texas)US Congressman Henry Cuellar (Texas)US Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas)Director Vernon Keenan, Georgia Bureau of Investigation (Georgia)US Congressman Steve Stockman (Texas)US Congressman Rubin Hinojosa (Texas)Mayor Will Wynn, Austin (Texas)Mayor Kip Holden, Baton Rouge (Louisiana)US Congressman Mike Honda (California)Secretary of State Debra Bowen (California)State Senator Leticia van de Putte (Texas)State Rep. Donna Howard (Texas)State Rep. Mark Strama (Texas)Super. of Public Education Suellen Reed (Indiana)Austin ISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen (Texas)Sheriff John Rutherford, Jacksonville (Florida)Sheriff Thomas Brown, DeKalb County (Georgia)State Senator Alma Allen (Texas)Police Chief Rick Rappoport, Fairfax (Virginia)US Congressman Hank Johnson (Georgia)Secretary of State Mark Martin (Arkansas)Mayor Keith Curry, Newport Beach (California)Mayor Jeffrey Jennings, Malibu (California)Justice Cruz Reynosa, Supreme Court (California)Mayor Edna Jackson, Savannah (Georgia)Mayor Anthany Beatty, Lexington (Kentucky)Speaker Pro Tem Patricia Haddad (Massachusetts)US Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II (Missouri)Secretary of State Linda McCulloch (Montana)Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki (Nevada)Chief of Police Michael Poehlman, Reno (Nevada)Governor Maggie Hassan (New Hampshire)Sheriff Leo P. McGuire, Bergen County (New Jersey)Governor Bill Richardson (New Mexico)Congresswoman Michelle Grisham (New Mexico)Congressman Gregory Meeks (New York)House Speaker Thom Tillis (N. Carolina)Congressman Jim Bridenstine (Oklahoma)Secretary of State Susan Savage (Oklahoma)Attorney General Drew Edmondson (Oklahoma)Deputy Director Tom Jordan, Oklahoma Bureau of InvestigationChief of Police Phil Cotten, Norman (Oklahoma)Mayor Kristin Szakos, Charlottesville (Virginia)Transportation Secretary Sean T. Connaughton (Virginia)Mayor William D. Euille, Alexandria (Virginia)Mayor Robert W. Lazaro Jr., Purcellville (Virginia)Exec. Director Mark Gibb, N. Virginia Regional Comm. (Virginia)Constable Bruce Elfant, Travis County (Texas)Mayor David Wallace, Sugarland (Texas)State Senator Alma Allen (Texas)Police Chief Rick Rappoport, Fairfax (Virginia)Secretary of State Doug La Follette (Wisconsin)State Rep. David Lujan (Arizona)State Rep. Theresa Ulmer (Arizona)State Senator Linda Grey (Arizona)State Rep. Steve Farley (Arizona)State Rep. Ed Ableser (Arizona)State Rep. Jackie Thrasher (Arizona)State Senator Michele Reagan (Arizona)State Rep. Karen Hopper (Arkansas)State Rep. George McGill (Arkansas)State Senator Bob Huff (California)State Rep. Cherylin Peniston (Colorado)Attorney General John William Suthers (Colorado)State Rep. Susan Ryden (Colorado)State Rep. Jennifer Carroll (Florida)State Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed (Florida)State Senator Rene Garcia (Florida)Public Defender Carlos J. Martinez, Miami-Dade (Florida)Mayor Thomas Masters, Riviera Beach (Florida)Judge Ivonne Cuesta, Miami-Dade (Florida)State Rep. John Daffendaugh (Georgia)State Rep. Tom Taylor (Georgia)State Rep. Ron Stephens (Georgia)State Senator Jeff Mullis (Georgia)State Senator Donzella James (Georgia)State Senator Gloria Butler (Georgia)State Senator Valencia Seay (Georgia)State Senator Horacena Tate (Georgia)State Senator Miriam Paris (Georgia)State Senator Nan Orrick (Georgia)State Rep. Michele Henson (Georgia)Mayor Heidi Davison, Athens (Georgia)State Senator J. Kalani English (Hawaii)State Senator Brent Hill (Idaho)State Senator John McGee (Idaho)State Senator Diane Bilyeu (Idaho)State Senator Lee Heider (Idaho)State Rep. Janice McGeachin (Idaho)State Senator Curt McKenzie (Idaho)State Rep. Donna Pence (Idaho)State Rep. Joe Stegner (Idaho)State Senator Michelle Stennett (Idaho)State Senator John Tippetts (Idaho)State Rep. Dennis Lake (Idaho)State Senator Edgar Malepeai (Idaho)State Rep. John Rusche (Idaho)State Senator Brandt Hershman (Indiana)State Senator Vi Simpson (Indiana)State Senator Jim Arnold (Indiana)State Senator Karen Tallian (Indiana)State Senator Jim Lewis (Indiana)State Rep. Linda Lawson (Indiana)State Rep. Vernon Smith (Indiana)State Senator Roger Katz (Maine)State Rep. Karen Kusiak (Maine)State Rep. Dennis Lee Keschl (Maine)State Senator Joseph Brannigan (Maine)State Senator Dennis Keschl (Maine)State Rep. Jane Knapp (Maine)Delegate Gail Bates (Maryland)Secretary of State John P. McDonough (Maryland)State Senator James M. Robey (Maryland)State Senator Verna Jones-Rodwell (Maryland)State Rep. Kay Khan (Massachusetts)State Rep. Sarah Peake (Massachusetts)State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi (Massachusetts)Mayor Bryan Barnett, Rochester Hills (Michigan)State Senator Sandy Pappas (Minnesota)State Rep. Jerry Newton (Minnesota)State Senator Claire Robling (Minnesota)State Senator Phil Riveness (Minnesota)State Senator Harry Kennedy (Missouri)State Senator Jolie Justus (Missouri)Prosecutor Beth Murano, Kansas City (Missouri)State Senator Amanda McGill (Nebraska)State Senator Brenda Council (Nebraska)State Senator Tanya Cook (Nebraska)State Rep. Lenette Peterson (New Hampshire)State Rep. Wyman E. Shuler III (New Hampshire)State Senator Loretta Weinberg (New Jersey)Assemblyman Upendra J. Chivukula (New Jersey)Assemblyman Gordon Johnson (New Jersey)State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino (New Mexico)Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings (New Mexico)State Senator George Munoz (New Mexico)State Rep. Debbie Rodella (New Mexico)State Senator Dede Feldman (New Mexico)State Senator Cisco McSorley (New Mexico)State Senator Eric Griego (New Mexico)Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (New York)Majority Leader Ron Canestrari (New York)Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (New York)State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (New York)State Rep. Tim Moore (N. Carolina)State Rep. Chuck McGrady (N. Carolina)State Rep. Mitch Gillespie (N. Carolina)State Rep. Corey Mock (N. Dakota)State Rep. Ben Hanson (N. Dakota)State Rep. Larry Klemin (N. Dakota)State Rep. Lois Delmore (N. Dakota)State Senator Phil Murphy (N. Dakota)State Senator David O'Connell (N. Dakota)State Rep. Cliff Rosenberger (Ohio)State Rep. Peter Beck (Ohio)State Rep. Bob Peterson (Ohio)State Rep. John Trebilcock (Oklahoma)State Rep. Tom Newell (Oklahoma)State Senator Cliff Aldridge (Oklahoma)Chief Chad Smith, Cherokee Nation (Oklahoma)State Senator Sean Burrage (Oklahoma)State Senator Gary Stanislawski (Oklahoma)State Senator Mike Brubaker (Pennsylvania)State Senator David Argall (Pennsylvania)State Senator Creighton Coleman (S. Carolina)State Senator Mike Fair (S. Carolina)State Senator Brad Hutto (S. Carolina)State Senator John Land (S. Carolina)State Senator Phil Leventis (S. Carolina)State Senator John Matthews (S. Carolina)State Senator Mike Rose (S. Carolina)State Senator Vince Sheheen (S. Carolina)State Senator Bill Ketron (Tennessee)Councilman Myron Lowery, Memphis (Tennessee)State Rep. Antonio Parkinson (Tennessee)State Rep. Harry Brooks (Tennessee)State Rep. Joe Armstrong (Tennessee)State Senator Reginald Tate (Tennessee)State Rep. Josh Evans (Tennessee)State Rep. Gary Odom (Tennessee)State Rep. Mark White (Tennessee)State Senator Stacey Campfield (Tennessee)State Senator Brian Kelsey (Tennessee)State Rep. Vance Dennis (Tennessee)State Rep. Roger Kane (Tennessee)State Rep. Joe Towns (Tennessee)State Rep. Johnnie Turner (Tennessee)State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver (Tennessee)State Senator Rodney Ellis (Texas)State Rep. Eliott Naishtat (Texas)State Rep. Valinda Bolton (Texas)State Senator Eddie Lucio (Texas)State Senator Tory Fraser (Texas)Judge Bob Hebert, Fort Bend County (Texas)State Rep. Senfronia Thompson (Texas)State Rep. Pete Gallego (Texas)State Rep. Jean O'Sullivan (Vermont)State Rep. Michael Yantachka (Vermont)Fairfax County Supervisor John Cook (Virginia)Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust (Virginia)Fairfax County Attorney David Bobzien (Virginia)Chairman Sharon S. Bulova, Fairfax County (Virginia)State Senator Richard L. Saslaw (Virginia)State Senator Barbara Ann Favola (Virginia)State Delegate Robert H. Brink (Virginia)State Senator Henry L. Marsh (Virginia)State Senator Frank W. Wagner (Virginia)State Delegate Riley E. Ingram (Virginia)State Delegate James P. Massie III (Virginia)State Delegate Joseph D. Morrissey (Virginia)State Senator Janet D. Howell (Virginia)State Delegate Kenneth R. Plum (Virginia)State Delegate James M. Scott (Virginia)State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple (Virginia)State Senator Patsy Ticer (Virginia)State Delegate Mark D. Sickles (Virginia)State Senator John C. Watkins (Virginia)State Senator Pam Roach (Washington)State Delegate John Ellem (W. Virginia)State Delegate Ron Walters (W. Virginia)State Rep. Thomas Edwin Lubnau (Wyoming)State Senator Fred Emerich (Wyoming)State Senator John James Hines (Wyoming)
Why are Turks disposing of $1 bills?
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 16:01
US $1 bills are seen on a light table at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington, DC, Nov. 14, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Gary Cameron)
Author: Tulay Cetingulec Posted August 18, 2016
What is $1 wortharound the world? An unlimited rice meal in India, a cup of coffee in Portugal and an hour of street parking in some places in the United States. A bottle of cheap wine is what you get in Italy, a lottery ticket in Australia and half an hour of foot massage in the Philippines. In Turkey, you can treat yourself to a simit and tea'-- and, as it turns out, you can stage a coup.
Summary' Print The discovery of $1 bills on Turkish soldiers involved in the July 15 putsch suggest the greenback has been used as a secret code of communication.One-dollar bills have been found on high-ranking officers involved in the July 15 coup attempt, in what is perhaps the most bizarre of the many oddities to emerge from the massive crackdown on the Gulen community, the accused culprit in the putsch. The $1 bills have been found also on policemen, judges, academics, businessmen, teachers and other civilians linked to the Gulen community, the government's former ally, which it now calls the Fethullah Gulen Terror Organization (FETO).
The bills are said to denote membership in the secretive group, and their serial numbers are believed to have coded meanings. Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag has said the $1 bill ''is undoubtedly of some important function within FETO,'' while Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has vowed to defeat ''the lowlifes who sell their souls for $1.''
Ordinary Turks are also angry, protesting the dollar in various ways. In Istanbul, for instance, a group of shopkeepers threw $1 bills in the sewage, pledging not to deal with dollars again. In the most prevalent reaction, however, the greenback is now banished from wedding parties, where the bride and the groom as well as the musicians entertaining the guests are often sprayed with banknotes. Two days before the coup attempt, for instance, a wedding in Sanliurfa made the headlines for the ''shower of dollars'' that hailed down on the newlyweds. But, as the media report, ''Weddings have ushered in a Turkish lira-era'' after July 15.
Spraying dollars at wedding parties may convey an air of affluence and largesse, but it is actually a cost-cutting measure devised by crafty Turks. One dollar is worth roughly 3 Turkish lira, while the smallest Turkish banknote is 5 liras '-- more expensive while at the same time less cool than the greenback. So, to make a real impression with Turkish currency, one has to be prepared to sacrifice banknotes of at least 10 or 20 Turkish lira.
Others prefer to sacrifice probity instead, using fake $1 bills to reduce further the cost of showing off. This seems to have become a widespread practice, judging by a report from the western town of Nazilli, just a day before the coup attempt. A group of wedding musicians felt so exasperated and humiliated by the rising trend that they called a press conference to display '-- and then burn '-- the fake dollars they had been thrown at recent parties, which totaled $5,000 in face value. The musicians said fake dollars were being sold openly at city bazaars and urged police to take action.
Now the main usage area of the $1 bills in Turkey seems to be gone, as no one wants to be associated with the putschists. In currency exchange offices, no one is asking for $1 bills, while those with leftovers from oversea trips are said to be tearing the bills up or throwing them away, with only the bravest turning up for exchange.
One of the exchange offices Al-Monitor visited had accumulated hundreds of $1 bills, with one employee grumbling, ''It's not like before. People are afraid to both buy and sell them.'' Another currency dealer said the demand for $1 bills ended ''at a stroke'' after Gulenists were reported to use them for secret communication. ''People have come to see them as criminal tools,'' he added. A third shop had done away with the $1 bill altogether. ''No $1 bills here,'' the dealer said. ''Neither buying nor selling.''
Yet, not all $1 bills are of an ''incriminating'' nature. The serial number matters. According to media reports, a serial number that begins with the letter F denotes that the holder is a top Gulenist leader, while C is for lower-level managers and J for ordinary members. Other reports claim the $1 bills were blessed personally by Fethullah Gulen, the US-based cleric heading the sect, before being distributed to members, and that the serial numbers serve as a sort of ID number, the records of which Gulen keeps at his mansion in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, others who disposed of the greenback after the putsch did so not out of fear but to make profits. The Turkish currency plunged sharply over the coup attempt, leading many to sell their dollars to buy more of the cheapened lira before it recovered.
Yildirim and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, for their part, have praised the sell-off as a display of patriotism, a vantage point that meshes with a widespread conviction among Turks that the United States colluded with the putschists.
In an Aug. 9 speech in parliament, Yildirim said Turks had exchanged $11 billion in 10 days, which helped to fend off a potential crisis at the markets amid fears of an exodus by panicked foreign investors. ''The people not only averted the coup but also funneled money to the markets. A nation like this can only be applauded. By converting $11 billion to Turkish lira in the 10 days after the coup, you gave [the country] lifeblood and strength,'' Yildirim said.
So the prime minister seems confident that Turks have grown more loyal to their national currency, atop banishing the $1 bill. This should be great news for the wedding bands in particular. The musicians in Nazilli could have never imagined their protest would bear fruit so soon.
Read More: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/08/turkey-gulen-movement-one-dollar-fear.html
Turkey to take more active role on Syria in next six months, PM say
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 18:28
ISTANBUL- Turkey will take a more active role in addressing the conflict in Syria in the next six months to prevent the war-torn country being divided along ethnic lines, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Saturday.
Yildirim also told a group of reporters in Istanbul that while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could have a role in the interim leadership, he must play no part in its future.
Syria's more than five-year conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension, with Kurdish groups carving out their own regions, and periodically battling groups from Syria's Arab majority whose priority is to overthrow Assad.
Turkey fears the strengthening of Kurdish militant groups in Syria will further embolden its own Kurdish insurgency, which flared anew following the collapse of a ceasefire between militants and the state last year.
Turkush soldiers (Photo: Reuters)
"Turkey we will be more active in the Syria issue in the coming six months as a regional player. This means to not allow Syria to be divided on any ethnic base, for Turkey this is crucial," Yildirim said.
On Friday Syrian Kurdish authorities evacuated thousands of civilians from Kurdish areas of Hasaka following Syrian government air strikes, the Kurdish YPG militia said.
The fighting this week in Hasaka, which is divided into zones of Kurdish and Syrian government control, marks the most violent confrontation between the Kurdish YPG militia and Damascus in the civil war.
It came a week after Turkey and Russia, Assad's strongest military backer, repaired ties following Turkey's downing of a Russian jet late last year.
The YPG and Syrian government forces had mostly left each other to their own devices in the conflict, during which Kurdish groups have exploited the collapse of state control to establish autonomy across much of the country's north.
The Kurdish YPG militia is an integral part of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are at the heart of Washington's military campaign against Islamic State group and last week seized the northern town of Manbij from the militants.
Despite the intensified military involvement of world powers, including the former Cold War foes, Yildirim said he was optimistic that Iran, Gulf Arab states, Russia and the United States, could work jointly to find a solution.
A 'grown-up' China looks to enter the Syrian equation | Russia Beyond The Headlines
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 00:08
News that Beijing might send military instructors to Syria marks a stark departure from China's previous foreign policy strategy, which was bent on low-profile involvement in global affairs. It also raises the prospect of an ad hoc military alliance with Russia and Iran.
A Syrian government army soldier near the city of Palmyra, March 24, 2016. Source: Valery Sharifulin/TASS
China and Syria recently discussed the possibility of Chinese military instructors training army personnel in Damascus.
On Aug. 16, Guan Youfei, director of the Office for International Military Cooperation of China's Central Military Commission, said the two sides had ''reached a consensus'' on the Chinese military providing humanitarian aid to Syria.
However, the focus of attention turned on his accompanying remark that Beijing is seeking closer military ties with Damascus.
These developments come after ongoing speculation that dozens of Chinese military instructors were sent to Syria in 2015. The allegations made by certain sections of the media were never proved, however.
However, recent developments support the conclusion by Reuter's that lately China has been trying to get more involved, including sending envoys to help push for a diplomatic resolution to the violence there and hosting Syrian government and opposition figures.
Can a solid rationale be detected in these ''unknown reasons'' for the higher level of Chinese involvement in the Middle Eastern quagmire?
Make money, not warRecent military setbacks and retreats by ISIS military formations in Syria have raised the prospects of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad presiding over the final defeat of his numerous opponents. Beijing must have sensed the soon opening windows of business opportunities.
Earlier this year, the emboldened ruler of Damascus bluntly encouraged Iran, China and Russia to continue rendering support to his regime by promising to offer the trio preferential treatment when ''reconstruction'' of the ravaged country comes on top of the domestic agenda.
Beijing must have gambled on netting lucrative construction contracts in Syria and providing building materials as well as collateral services, thus ensuring a solid fabric to bilateral relations.
Gleb Ivashentsov, former Russian ambassador to South Korea and now member of the Russian International Affairs Council, shares this view but says that geopolitical considerations also come into play.
''For Beijing the invigorated cooperation with Damascus definitely serves the purpose of reserving a privileged place in post-war Syria,'' said Ivashentsov.
''Trade and economic cooperation is at the back of Beijing's mind. However, this is also a signal to the United States that China is becoming more assertive in pursuing foreign policy goals. Moreover, I cannot exclude that this is sort of an asymmetrical response to the deployment of U.S. anti-missile systems in South Korea.''
It sure looks like China is not going to forfeit the ''dividend of peace'' once Syria is stabilized and the rebels come to terms with Assad's regime by striking a durable and mutually acceptable deal.
New security provider on the blockHowever, China's more assertive behavior in world affairs and readiness to enter hot spots cannot be attributed solely to the need to tap foreign markets, shower them with consumer goods and/or extract and import their mineral resources.
It's more than that. It is about what Xi Jinping termed as the new diplomacy of a super power ''with a Chinese accent,'' said Alexander Lomanov, a professor at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Far Eastern Studies.
''It is by all means a revision of Deng Xiaoping's legacy epitomized in his guarded instructions: Never take the lead, never reveal your true potential, never overstretch your abilities,'' said Lomanov.
''It was said back in 1992, and was derived from the lessons of the collapse of the Soviet Union. But a quarter of century has elapsed since then. China has changed and is transcending the boundaries is has set for itself.''
He adds that China is trying to assert itself on the global stage. ''If you scan Chinese blogs, you find remarkable twists to the news of a possible upgrade of military cooperation with Syria. 'Joining the game of geopolitical football in the second half was a standard tradition with us,' asserts one of the bloggers. Now that 'we have grown up, the time has come to enter the game from the start,''' said Lomanov.
Growing up to save the worldAnyway, it should be put on record: The above statements are a clear hint at the possibility of China abandoning its overcautious stance on foreign policy engagement.
If things do develop along these lines, China may soon try on the role of a global security provider. The Middle East might be an acceptable testing ground.
Is Beijing mature enough to carry this burden? Probably, yes. In any case, the Chinese no longer have an inferiority complex. They claim to ''have grown up.''
Special section: Troika Report>>>Persian pivot: What Russia's new closeness with Iran means>>>The opinion of the writer may not necessarily reflect the position of RBTH or its staff.
U.S. Defense Contractors Tell Investors Russian Threat Is Great for Business
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 00:11
The escalating anti-Russian rhetoric in the U.S. presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries.
Weapon makers have told investors that they are relying on tensions with Russia to fuel new business in the wake of Russian's annexation of Crimea and modest increases in its military budget.
In particular, the arms industry '-- both directly and through its arsenal of hired-gun, think-tank experts and lobbyists '' is actively pressuring NATO member nations to hike defense spending in line with the NATO goal for member states to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.
Retired Army Gen. Richard Cody, a vice president at L-3 Communications, the seventh largest U.S. defense contractor, explained to shareholders in December that the industry was faced with a historic opportunity. Following the end of the Cold War, Cody said, peace had ''pretty much broken out all over the world,'' with Russia in decline and NATO nations celebrating. ''The Wall came down,'' he said, and ''all defense budgets went south.''
Now, Cody argued, Russia ''is resurgent'' around the world, putting pressure on U.S. allies. ''Nations that belong to NATO are supposed to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense,'' he said, according to a transcript of his remarks. ''We know that uptick is coming and so we postured ourselves for it.''
Speaking to investors at a conference hosted by Credit Suisse in June, Stuart Bradie, the chief executive of KBR, a military contractor, discussed ''opportunities in Europe,'' highlighting the increase in defense spending by NATO countries in response to ''what's happening with Russia and the Ukraine.''
The National Defense Industrial Association, a lobby group for the industry, has called on Congress to make it easier for U.S. contractors to sell arms abroad to allies in response to the threat from Russia. Recent articles in National Defense, NDIA's magazine, discuss the need for NATO allies to boost maritime military spending, spending on Arctic systems, and missile defense, to counter Russia.
Many experts are unconvinced that Russia poses a direct military threat. The Soviet Union's military once stood at over 4 million soldiers, but today Russia has less than 1 million. NATO's combined military budget vastly outranks Russia's '-- with the U.S. alone outspending Russia on its military by $609 billion to less than $85 billion.
And yet, the Aerospace Industries Association, a lobby group for Lockheed Martin, Textron, Raytheon, and other defense contractors, argued in February that the Pentagon is not spending enough to counter ''Russian aggression on NATO's doorstep.''
Think tanks with major funding from defense contractors, including the Lexington Institute and the Atlantic Council, have similarly demanded higher defense spending to counter Russia.
Stephen Hadley, the former National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush now serving on the board of Raytheon, a firm competing for major NATO military contracts, has argued forcefully for hiking defense budgets and providing lethal aid to Ukraine. Hadley said in a speech last summer that the U.S. must ''raise the cost for what Russia is doing in Ukraine,'' adding that ''even President Putin is sensitive to body bags.''
The business press has noticed the development. The Washington Business Journal noted that ''if anyone is benefiting from the unease between Russia and the rest of the world, it would have to be Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp,'' noting that the firm won a major contract from Poland, which is revamping its military in response to Russia. Roman Schweizer, an analyst for the defense industry with Guggenheim Securities, predicted last year that U.S. arms sales would continue to rise, particularly because ''eastern NATO countries will increase procurements in the wake of continued Russian activity in Ukraine.''
At the Defence Security Exposition International, an arms dealer conference held in London last fall, contractors were quick to use Russia and rising defense budgets to hawk their products. ''The tank threat is '... much, much more closer to you today because Putin is doing something'' in eastern Ukraine, a shoulder-fired-rocket touting representative from Saab told Defense One.
''Companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have pledged to increase the share of exports in their overall revenues, and they have been seeking major deals in East and Central Europe since the 1990s, when NATO expansion began,'' said William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy. Hartung noted that as some nations ramp up spending, U.S. firms will be ''knocking at the door, looking to sell everything from fighter planes to missile defense systems.''
''Russian saber-rattling has additional benefits for weapons makers because it has become a standard part of the argument for higher Pentagon spending '-- even though the Pentagon already has more than enough money to address any actual threat to the United States,'' he said.
Top photo: Cutaway sections of 30mm x 173mm munitions are displayed on the Nammo stand during the Defence and Security Equipment International exhibition in 2015.
Medvedev signs order to create Kransya Polyana gambling zone in Sochi
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 00:17
The Sochi Olympic Park. Source: Ruslan Faisulin
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a resolution on creation of the Krasnaya Polyana gambling zone in Sochi.
The document signed on August 10, 2016, has been published at the website of the official legal information of the Russian government.
The gambling zone will cover 165,000 square meters of the land plots that were earlier allocated for the facilities of the 2014 Winter Olympics but where the construction was not financed from the federal budget.
The document was prepared in compliance with the law on gambling.
The law allowing the creation of a gambling zone in Sochi was adopted in 2014. The law allows the region to use Olympic facilities the construction of which was financed by private investors as facilities of the gambling zone in the Krasnodar region.
Earlier CEO of Russia' largest savings bank Sberbank German Gref came up with the initiative to create a gambling zone in Sochi. Sberbank controls the Kransaya Polyana company, which built the Gonraya Karusel mountain ski resort.
The ban on gambling in Russia (except bookmaking offices and betting terminals) outside specially assigned territories came into force on July 1, 2009.
The Russian authorities decided to establish gambling zones in the Altai Territory in West Siberia, the Krasnodar Territory in southern Russia, the Primorye Territory in the Far East and the Russian Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad.
No time for the past as Sochi embraces glamorous new role>>>
Russia Calls for Airport Closure in Northern Iraq Due to Special Operation in Syria
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 18:24
TEHRAN (FNA)- Russia announced that it aims to launch an operation in Syria against ISIL, urging Iraqi officials to cancel all flights in Erbil and Suleimaniyah airports in order to prevent any hazardous incidents from happening.
Russia has announced that it is set to launch an extensive military operation codenamed ''pervasive destruction'', using 69 Sukhoi fighters, Tupolev bomber 160, submarines and ships in Mediterranean Sea, Itartas reported.
Russia has, thus, urged Iraq to put a halt to the operation of Erbil and Suleimaniyah airports in a move to prepare for the upcoming military operations.
Russia, which has launched its air strikes since some time ago aims to extend its destructive operation. This move comes as a Russian fighter has recently been shot down by Turkish army in Syria.
Russia generally launches its cruise missile attacks against ISIL from the Caspian Sea, which necessarily move across the airspace of Iran and Northern Iraq before reaching Syrian territory. Russia has officially asked for these two countries' permission to use their airspace.
The views expressed herein are the views of the author exclusively and not necessarily the views of VT, VT authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, technicians, or the Veterans Today Network and its assigns. LEGAL NOTICE - COMMENT POLICYPosted by GPD on August 20, 2016, With 602 Reads Filed under Military. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
Asylum seekers heading to Germany are 'refusing to work' because they were 'invited' | Daily Mail Online
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 01:02
Asylum seekers in Germany are said to be refusing work in eastern townWaldenburg mayor claimed they said they were 'guests of Angela Merkel'He said they had declined voluntary jobs offered to them since arrivingLocal council had come up with idea to integrate them into communityBy Sam Tonkin For Mailonline
Published: 17:30 EST, 18 August 2016 | Updated: 20:02 EST, 18 August 2016
Asylum seekers in Germany are said to be refusing work and instead insisting they are 'guests of Angela Merkel'.
They have declined voluntary jobs offered to them since arriving in the country and used the hospitality of the German Chancellor as an excuse, a town mayor said.
Bernd Pohlers said asylum seekers in the eastern town of Waldenburg, Saxony, were refusing to take on work as a way of counteracting their boredom.
Claim: Mayor Bernd Pohlers (left) said asylum seekers in the eastern town of Waldenburg, Saxony, were refusing work and instead insisting they are 'guests of Angela Merkel (right)'
The local council is said to have spent £600 arranging for the men to have uniforms, according to the Daily Express, but was left shocked at being told the jobs wouldn't be done because they were 'guests'.
Under EU immigration rules, asylum seekers are not allowed to work but can carry out voluntary jobs.
Officials in Waldenburg came up with an idea of encouraging those without employment to get back to work and integrate with their local community.
The opportunity for voluntary work, which included a nominal payment of £18 for 20 hours, was initially accepted - but the male asylum seeker residents quit after finding out there was a minimum wage of £7.30 ('¬8.50) in Germany.
Refusal: The asylum seekers have declined voluntary jobs offered to them since arriving in Waldenburg (pictured) and used the hospitality of the German Chancellor as an excuse
The local council is said to have spent £600 arranging for the men to have uniforms but was left shocked at being told the jobs wouldn't be done. Two refugees are pictured in Germany
Mayor Pohlers said: 'It was subsequently argued by these people that they are guests of Mrs Merkel and guests do not have to work.
'Furthermore, they were of the opinion that there is a minimum wage ('¬8.50) in Germany, and that this had to be paid by the City Waldenburg.'
The town has confirmed that the asylum seekers are still not working.
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LiveLeak.com - Germany plans a partial ban on the veil
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 17:28
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives are to ask that the face veil be banned in schools, universities and while driving a vehicle.
Regional interior ministers belonging to Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and her Christian Social Union allies (CSU) are to make a declaration on tougher security measures, including more police and greater surveillance in public areas.
The ban involves all types of head coverings obstructing a clear view of the face.
However, Muslim women wearing the burqa and niqab will be particularly affected.
The party's call for a partial ban on the burqa and niqab suggests they represent a lack of integration, an inferior social categorisation of women and could pose security risks.
Key Angela Merkel ally calls for a partial burka ban in Germany https://t.co/ofEPCOJNLn'-- Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) August 19, 2016
Is this now the law in Germany, then?
The CDU proposals must be adopted by the government before they can become law.
The debate over a ban on the face veil has divided Merkel's governing coalition. Her Social Democrat (SPD) junior coalition partners are largely against the demands.
The CDU's calls for a partial ban come as it has lost support to the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AFD) party.
The party says Islam is incompatible with the constitution and wants to ban the burqa and minarets on mosques.
The AFD is expected to perform well in regional elections in Berlin and the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in September.
SPD Labour Minister Andrea Nahles has described calls for a ban as a sign of an ''increasingly xenophobic'' discourse in Germany.
Islam and the veil in Germany
Germany is home to nearly four million Muslims, around five percent of the total population.
There are no official statistics on the number of women wearing the burqa in Germany.
A 2009 study by the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees found that more than two-thirds of Muslim women in Germany did not even wear a headscarf.
Austria and the veil
Austria has 600,000 Muslim citizens
Equivalent of 7% of population
Austria's conservative politicians called for a ban on full body veils on Thursday, saying they would prevent women from integrating into Austrian society.
The country's Foreign and Integration Minister, Sebastian Kurz from the centrist People's Party, plans to introduce a new integration law next year.
Kurz said religious symbols like the burqa are an issue that needs to be discussed.
Austria leads? Will German ministers push to follow Austrian FM Kurz's call to ban full body veil? #sebastiankurzhttps://t.co/pSAhCkfCD9'-- Michael Burri (@Michael__Burri) August 18, 2016
France and the veil
Largest Muslim minority in Europe
Five million Muslim citizens
Full-face niqab and burqa ban in public from 2010
Controversy currently focusing on ''burkini'' full-body swimsuit
Publice debate about a ban on full body veils was ignited in several European countries after three French Mediterranean cities banned body-covering ''burkini'' swimwear.
Their argument is it defies French laws on secularism.
France, which at five million has the largest Muslim minority in Europe, introduced a ban on full-face niqab and burqa veils in public in 2010.
The burqa covers the face and body
The niqab covers the hair and face, except for the eyes
What they are saying
''We unanimously reject the burqa. It does not fit with our liberal-minded society. We have agreed that we want to make it a legal requirement to show your face in places where it is necessary for the cohesion of our society,'' '' German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.
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German Anti-Immigrant Party Leader Urges People To Arm Themselves
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 18:17
In early 2016, after a series of widely documented refugee assault scandals, most prominently the "monstrous" mass rape (and subsequent coverup attempts) of as many as 90 women, in Cologne during New Year's Day celebrations, we reported of an explosion in interest in self-defense items like "pepper spray" as well a a surge of small arms sales, such as gas pistols. According to federal statistics, the number of Germans applying for so-called "small firearms license", which are required to carry around blank guns and pepper spray, jumped 49% in the first half of 2016 to 402,301.
"People no longer feel safe, otherwise they would not be buying so many products here," a seller in North-Rhine Westphalia told Deutsche Welle in January, adding that like many of his colleagues, he has been moving "an average of three times as many alarm, gas, and signal guns as he was prior to the attacks that took place in Cologne on New Year's Eve."
Since then, the situation in Germany - and across Western Europe - has only grown more perilous, as a result of three ISIS-inspired fatal attacks by refugees over the past several weeks, which has led to not only the most recent collapse in the polls of Angela Merkel but the ongoing ascent of Germany's anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
According to a recent ARG poll, popular support for the Chancellor plunged by a whopping 12 points, with her approval rating crashing to just 47%, as a result of almost two-thirds of Germans unhappy with her refugee policy. This marked her second-lowest score since she was re-elected in 2013. In April last year, before the migrant crisis erupted she enjoyed backing of 75 percent. Meanwhile, the anti-immigrant AfD has won growing popular support in Germany due in part to Europe's migrant crisis, which has seen more than 1 million refugees arrive over the past year, and it now has seats in eight of Germany's 16 state assemblies.
And as a result of sensing the Chancellor's ongoing weakness, (who last week was especially defensive, saying "islamist terror in Germany wasn't imported with refugees" adding that "terror existed in Germany before the refugee influx"), the leader of the Alternative for Germany party, Frauke Petry, has spoken out in favor of people arming themselves with guns and self-defense devices following a series of violent attacks last month.
Chairwoman of the anti-immigration party Alternative for Germany Frauke Petry
"Many people are increasingly feeling unsafe. Every law-abiding citizen should be in a position to defend themselves, their family and their friends," Frauke Petry told the Funke Media Group in an interview published on Saturday. "We all know how long it takes until the police can get to the scene, especially in sparsely populated places," she said.
After two Islamist attacks and a shooting rampage by a mentally unstable teenager last month, Germans are on edge and the AfD is expected to make a strong showing in votes next month in Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Known for her fiery speeches to AfD supporters, Petry sparked an uproar earlier this year when as Reuters reports, she called for German police to be allowed to use firearms against illegal migrants.
Additionally, Petry rejected calls to toughen up gun laws, saying this would affect respectable citizens and not those who acquire weapons in the so-called "dark net", which is only accessible via special browsers. Instead, she criticized "ruinous cuts" on police and said the state at lost its monopoly on the use of force in places.
The problem for those who wish to follow Petry's recommendation is that Germany has some of the most stringent gun laws in Europe. Firearm owners must obtain a weapons licence for which applicants must generally be at least 18 years old and show they have they have a reason for needing a weapon.
Nonetheless, as Reuters adds, sexual assaults on women in Cologne at New Year and three fatal attacks have added to the feeling of vulnerability and prompted Germans to stock up on scare devices. As such the tension between the desire for self-defense and the legal stumbling blocks, will mean that Germans will be increasingly tempted to pick a candidate who is willing to change the laws, someone like AfD, which hints at more trouble for Merkel's coalition, especially if the refugee deal reached with Turkey in March, is scrapped and Germany is flooded with another million (or more) Syrian refugees, which will likely result in even more radical jihadist elements slipping through the cracks of Merkel's "open door" policy.
Leaked Memo Proves Soros Ruled Ukraine In 2014: Minutes From "Breakfast With US Ambassador Pyatt" | Zero Hedge
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 18:17
Submitted by Alex Christoforou of The Duran
We noted in a previous post how important Ukraine was to George Soros, with documents from DC Leaks that show Soros, and his Open Society NGO, scouring the Greek media and political landscape to push the benefits of his Ukraine coup upon a Russian leaning Greek society.
Now more documents, in the massive 2,500 leaked tranche, show the immense power and control Soros had over Ukraine immediately following the illegal Maidan government overthrow.
Soros and his NGO executives held detailed and extensive meetings with just about every actor involved in the Maidan coup: from US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, to Ukraine's Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Justice, Health, and Education.
The only person missing was Victoria Nuland, though we are sure those meeting minutes are waiting to see the light of day.
Plans to subvert and undermine Russian influence and cultural ties to Ukraine are a central focus of every conversation. US hard power, and EU soft power, is central towards bringing Ukraine into the neo-liberal model that Soros champions, while bringing Russia to its economic knees.
Soros' NGO, International Renaissance Foundation (IRF) plays a key role in the formation of the ''New Ukraine'''...the term Soros frequently uses when referring to his Ukraine project.
In a document titled, "Breakfast with US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt", George Soros, (aka GS), discusses Ukraine's future with:
Geoffrey Pyatt (US Ambassador to Ukraine); David Meale (Economic Counsellor to the Ambassador); Lenny Benardo (OSF); Yevhen Bystrytsky (Executive Director, IRF); Oleksandr Sushko (Board Chair, IRF); Ivan Krastev (Chariman, Centre for Liberal Studies); Sabine Freizer (OSF); Deff Barton (Director, USAID, Ukraine)
The meeting took place on March 31, 2014, just a few months after the Maidan coup, and weeks before a full out civil war erupted, after Ukraine forces attacked the Donbass.
In the meeting, US Ambassador Pyatt outlines the general goal for fighting a PR war against Putin, for which GS is more than happy to assist.
Ambassador: The short term issue that needs to be addressed will be the problem in getting the message out from the government through professional PR tools, especially given Putin's own professional smear campaigns.
GS: Agreement on the strategic communications issue'--providing professional PR assistance to Ukrainian government would be very useful. Gave an overview of the Crisis Media Center set up by IRF and the need for Yatseniuk to do more interviews with them that address directly with journalists and the public the current criticisms of his decision making.
Pyatt pushes the idea of decentralization of power for the New Ukraine, without moving towards Lavrov's recommendation for a federalized Ukraine.
GS notes that a federalization model would result in Russia gaining influence over eastern regions in Ukraine, something that GS strictly opposes.
Ambassador: Lavrov has been pushing the line about constitutional reform and the concept of federalization in Russia. The USG reaffirmed it will not negotiate over the heads of the Ukrainians on the constitutional reform issue and that Ukraine needs to decide on this issue for itself. He noted that there are templates for devolution that can be used in this context but that the struggle will be to figure out how to move forward with decentralization without feeding into Russian agenda.
GS: Federalization plan being marketed by Putin to Merkel and Obama would result in Russia gaining influence and de facto control over eastern regions in Ukraine. He noted Lavrov has clear instructions from Putin to push the line on federalization.
Ambassador: Secretary Kerry would be interested to hear GS's views on the situation directly, upon return from his trip.
SF: There is no good positive model for federalization in region, even models of decentralization are very poor because the concept is not very common. The institutions need for decentralization do not yet exist and need to be built.
YB: Ukraine should pursue a decentralization policy based on the Polish decentralization model. IRF funded the development of a plan based on this model previously and those involved are now advisers to government on this issue. Noted it is also important to encourage the constitution council created y government to be more open and involve independent experts.
Ambassador: Constitutional reform issue as the most urgent issue facing Ukraine'--there is a need to decentralize in order to push democracy down to the local level and break the systemic corruption that results from Kiev's authority over the local governments.
Ambassador: Russian propaganda machine telling Kharkhiv and Donbass residents that the government in Western Ukraine is looking to take away their resources and rights through decentralization process, feeding into Lavrov's line that the Ukrainian government is dysfunctional and not successful as a unitary state, making it a necessity to have federalization.
The participants cannot stop fixating on Russia and Putin throughout the meeting. The Ukraine project seems to be more about sticking it to Russia, then about saving a country about to fall into the abyss.
US Ambassador Pyatt hands over full control to George Soros, and point blank asks him, ''what USG should be doing and what the USG is currently doing.''
Soros' response is stunning, ''Obama has been too soft on Putin.''
Ambassador: Asked GS for a critique of US policy and his thoughts on what USG should be doing.
GS: Will send Ambassador Pyatt copies of correspondences he previously sent to others and his article in NY Review of Books. Obama has been too soft on Putin, and there is a need to impost potent smart sanctions. He noted the need for a division of labor between the US and the EU with the US playing the bad cop role. The USG should impose sanctions on Russia for 90 days or until the Russian government recognizes the results of the presidential elections. He noted that he is most concerned about transitional justice and lustration.
Ambassador: USG will organize conference with the British at the end of April on financial crimes that will bring together senior level government officials and representatives of the international community to discuss where money went. He noted his worries about the complete implosion of the Party of Regions and will be speaking to IRI and NDI about offering assistance to reconstruct the party for the post-Yanukovych era.
US Ambassador Pyatt decides to take out Tymoshenko from the New Ukraine equation.
She served her purpose as a poor and sick political prisoner while Yanukovich was in power, saying that ''Tymoshenko is associated with everything undignified'''...
Ambassador: Personal philosophy on the greatest need for Ukraine right now is the need for national unification. This will not happen under Tymoshenko because she is perceived as a hold over of the old regime and a very divisive personality. He calls the revolution a ''revolution of dignity'' and Tymoshenko is associated with everything undignified.
GS: Need to cleanse the ''original sin'' that all of the current presidential candidates are marked with in order for Ukraine to move forward.
Concern over the Pravy Sector, and how to disarm, or integrate, the muscle that was used to instigate much of the violence during the Maidan is debated.
Soros even throws out his suspicion that the Privy Sector has been infiltrated, and now is working under Russia's FSB.
GS: Belief that the Pravy Sector is an FSB plot and has been funded to destabilize Ukraine
Ambassador: Agreed that this was at least partly true, but the problem now is that Pravy Sector has become organic and is still armed. There is a need for the government to figure out how to demobilize and disarm the Pravy Sector.
GS: How can we defend against Putin's attempts to destabilize the May elections?
Ambassador: The international community should send in a flood of observers from the OSCE and other institutions. The US Embassy is also currently working with the local intelligence agencies to monitor the situation and they have already found Russian agents. He noted that a second ambassador, Cliff Bond, will be brought into the embassy to focus on the longer term questions such as decentralization, lustration, e-governance, and anti-corruption and will be coordinating with the donor community on these issues. Obama has instructed the embassy to focus primarily on economic support and assistance for Ukraine, avoiding military support or assistance.
GS: Hopes that going forward there will be close contact and cooperation between the US Embassy and the IRF.
The Full PDF of the 2014 George Soros minutes can be downloaded here: - Ukraine Working Group 2014-gs ukraine visitmarch 2014note.
The meeting minutes documented present a clear and conclusive case that George Soros and his International Renaissance Foundation (IRF) manipulated Ukraine into moving towards an untenable and self destructive direction.
In one meeting under the title, ''Civil Society Roundtable Meeting'', Crimea fifth column schemes are advanced as viable solutions to those participating in the discussion.
Likewise we see how involved Soros was in making sure a Ukraine under federalisation is completely undermined at the highest levels, influencing Merkel and Obama to reject such initiatives.
In hindsight it has now become clear that the only way Ukraine was going to survive the coup in one piece was to move towards a federalised model of governance.
He [George Soros] noted that Ukraine is in grave danger because Putin knows he cannot allow the new Ukraine to succeed. He reiterated his points about the conversations Putin has had with Merkel and Obama about federalism and his concerns surrounding that development. He noted that he hasn't had direct feedback yet regarding this issue and is basing his worries on second hand information about the reactions of Merkel and Obama. But he reiterated the need for the Ukrainian government to respond loudly and immediately.
The NSA Was Hacked, Snowden Documents Confirm
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 00:17
On Monday, a hacking group calling itself the ''ShadowBrokers'' announced an auction for what it claimed were ''cyber weapons'' made by the NSA. Based on never-before-published documents provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Intercept can confirm that the arsenal contains authentic NSA software, part of a powerful constellation of tools used to covertly infect computers worldwide.
The provenance of the code has been a matter of heated debate this week among cybersecurity experts, and while it remains unclear how the software leaked, one thing is now beyond speculation: The malware is covered with the NSA's virtual fingerprints and clearly originates from the agency.
The evidence that ties the ShadowBrokers dump to the NSA comes in an agency manual for implanting malware, classified top secret, provided by Snowden, and not previously available to the public. The draft manual instructs NSA operators to track their use of one malware program using a specific 16-character string, ''ace02468bdf13579.'' That exact same string appears throughout the ShadowBrokers leak in code associated with the same program, SECONDDATE.
SECONDDATE plays a specialized role inside a complex global system built by the U.S. government to infect and monitor what one document estimated to be millions of computers around the world. Its release by ShadowBrokers, alongside dozens of other malicious tools, marks the first time any full copies of the NSA's offensive software have been available to the public, providing a glimpse at how an elaborate system outlined in the Snowden documents looks when deployed in the real world, as well as concrete evidence that NSA hackers don't always have the last word when it comes to computer exploitation.
But malicious software of this sophistication doesn't just pose a threat to foreign governments, Johns Hopkins University cryptographer Matthew Green told The Intercept:
The danger of these exploits is that they can be used to target anyone who is using a vulnerable router. This is the equivalent of leaving lockpicking tools lying around a high school cafeteria. It's worse, in fact, because many of these exploits are not available through any other means, so they're just now coming to the attention of the firewall and router manufacturers that need to fix them, as well as the customers that are vulnerable.
So the risk is twofold: first, that the person or persons who stole this information might have used them against us. If this is indeed Russia, then one assumes that they probably have their own exploits, but there's no need to give them any more. And now that the exploits have been released, we run the risk that ordinary criminals will use them against corporate targets.
The NSA did not respond to questions concerning ShadowBrokers, the Snowden documents, or its malware.
A Memorable SECONDDATEThe offensive tools released by ShadowBrokers are organized under a litany of code names such as POLARSNEEZE and ELIGIBLE BOMBSHELL, and their exact purpose is still being assessed. But we do know more about one of the weapons: SECONDDATE.
SECONDDATE is a tool designed to intercept web requests and redirect browsers on target computers to an NSA web server. That server, in turn, is designed to infect them with malware. SECONDDATE's existence was first reported by The Intercept in 2014, as part of a look at a global computer exploitation effort code-named TURBINE. The malware server, known as FOXACID, has also been described in previously released Snowden documents.
Other documents released by The Intercept today not only tie SECONDDATE to the ShadowBrokers leak but also provide new detail on how it fits into the NSA's broader surveillance and infection network. They also show how SECONDDATE has been used, including to spy on Pakistan and a computer system in Lebanon.
The top-secret manual that authenticates the SECONDDATE found in the wild as the same one used within the NSA is a 31-page document titled ''FOXACID SOP for Operational Management'' and marked as a draft. It dates to no earlier than 2010. A section within the manual describes administrative tools for tracking how victims are funneled into FOXACID, including a set of tags used to catalogue servers. When such a tag is created in relation to a SECONDDATE-related infection, the document says, a certain distinctive identifier must be used:
The same SECONDDATE MSGID string appears in 14 different files throughout the ShadowBrokers leak, including in a file titled SecondDate-3021.exe. Viewed through a code-editing program (screenshot below), the NSA's secret number can be found hiding in plain sight:
All told, throughout many of the folders contained in the ShadowBrokers' package (screenshot below), there are 47 files with SECONDDATE-related names, including different versions of the raw code required to execute a SECONDDATE attack, instructions for how to use it, and other related files.
After viewing the code, Green told The Intercept the MSGID string's occurrence in both an NSA training document and this week's leak is ''unlikely to be a coincidence.'' Computer security researcher Matt Suiche, founder of UAE-based cybersecurity startup Comae Technologies, who has been particularly vocal in his analysis of the ShadowBrokers this week, told The Intercept ''there is no way'' the MSGID string's appearance in both places is a coincidence.
Where SECONDDATE Fits InThis overview jibes with previously unpublished classified files provided by Snowden that illustrate how SECONDDATE is a component of BADDECISION, a broader NSA infiltration tool. SECONDDATE helps the NSA pull off a ''man in the middle'' attack against users on a wireless network, tricking them into thinking they're talking to a safe website when in reality they've been sent a malicious payload from an NSA server.
According to one December 2010 PowerPoint presentation titled ''Introduction to BADDECISION,'' that tool is also designed to send users of a wireless network, sometimes referred to as an 802.11 network, to FOXACID malware servers. Or, as the presentation puts it, BADDECISION is an ''802.11 CNE [computer network exploitation] tool that uses a true man-in-the-middle attack and a frame injection technique to redirect a target client to a FOXACID server.'' As another top-secret slide puts it, the attack homes in on ''the greatest vulnerability to your computer: your web browser.''
One slide points out that the attack works on users with an encrypted wireless connection to the internet.
That trick, it seems, often involves BADDECISION and SECONDDATE, with the latter described as a ''component'' for the former. A series of diagrams in the ''Introduction to BADDECISION'' presentation show how an NSA operator ''uses SECONDDATE to inject a redirection payload at [a] Target Client,'' invisibly hijacking a user's web browser as the user attempts to visit a benign website (in the example given, it's CNN.com). Executed correctly, the file explains, a ''Target Client continues normal webpage browsing, completely unaware,'' lands on a malware-filled NSA server, and becomes infected with as much of that malware as possible '-- or as the presentation puts it, the user will be left ''WHACKED!'' In the other top-secret presentations, it's put plainly: ''How do we redirect the target to the FOXACID server without being noticed''? Simple: ''Use NIGHTSTAND or BADDECISION.''
The sheer number of interlocking tools available to crack a computer is dizzying. In the FOXACID manual, government hackers are told an NSA hacker ought to be familiar with using SECONDDATE along with similar man-in-the-middle wi-fi attacks code-named MAGIC SQUIRREL and MAGICBEAN. A top-secret presentation on FOXACID lists further ways to redirect targets to the malware server system.
To position themselves within range of a vulnerable wireless network, NSA operators can use a mobile antenna system running software code-named BLINDDATE, depicted in the field in what appears to be Kabul. The software can even be attached to a drone. BLINDDATE in turn can run BADDECISION, which allows for a SECONDDATE attack:
Elsewhere in these files, there are at least two documented cases of SECONDDATE being used to successfully infect computers overseas: An April 2013 presentation boasts of successful attacks against computer systems in both Pakistan and Lebanon. In the first, NSA hackers used SECONDDATE to breach ''targets in Pakistan's National Telecommunications Corporation's (NTC) VIP Division,'' which contained documents pertaining to ''the backbone of Pakistan's Green Line communications network'' used by ''civilian and military leadership.''
In the latter, the NSA used SECONDDATE to pull off a man-in-the-middle attack in Lebanon ''for the first time ever,'' infecting a Lebanese ISP to extract ''100+ MB of Hizballah Unit 1800 data,'' a special subset of the terrorist group dedicated to aiding Palestinian militants.
SECONDDATE is just one method that the NSA uses to get its target's browser pointed at a FOXACID server. Other methods include sending spam that attempts to exploit bugs in popular web-based email providers or entices targets to click on malicious links that lead to a FOXACID server. One document, a newsletter for the NSA's Special Source Operations division, describes how NSA software other than SECONDDATE was used to repeatedly direct targets in Pakistan to FOXACID malware web servers, eventually infecting the targets' computers.
A Potentially Mundane HackSnowden, who worked for NSA contractors Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton, has offered some context and a relatively mundane possible explanation for the leak: that the NSA headquarters was not hacked, but rather one of the computers the agency uses to plan and execute attacks was compromised. In a series of tweets, he pointed out that the NSA often lurks on systems that are supposed to be controlled by others, and it's possible someone at the agency took control of a server and failed to clean up after themselves. A regime, hacker group, or intelligence agency could have seized the files and the opportunity to embarrass the agency.
Britain's top human rights lawyer who represented Julian Assange and worked alongside George Clooney's wife Amal dies in apparent suicide '' The Sun
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 23:33
ONE of Britain's top human rights lawyers who represented Julian Assange andwar criminals has died in an apparent suicide.
Married dad of two John Jones QC, 48, who worked alongside Hollywood actorGeorge Clooney's wife Amal, passed away on Monday.
He acted for Wikileaks founder Assange, 44, holed-up for four years in theEcuador Embassy in London, when the Swedish government initially tried toextradite him for questioning on rape charges.
Mr Jones and Amal, colleagues at renowned civil rights legal firm DoughtyStreet in central London, were currently trying to save the lives of ColonelGaddafi's son Saif and Libyan spy chief Abdullah al-Senussi.
They had been ordered before a firing squad in Tripoli '' but the lawyers weretrying to divert their case to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague,Holland, which does not have the death penalty.
A spokesman for British Transport Police said it was called to West Hampsteadrail station in north London at 7.07am on Monday after a man was struck by atrain.
A spokesman added: ''He was pronounced dead at the scene. The man's deathis not being treated as suspicious. A file will be prepared for the coroner.''
ChedEvans WINS his appeal against rape conviction as judges order a retrial
Woman,79, fighting for life after man steals her car before knocking her to theground and driving over body in horrific carjacking
Thirdof jihadists behind UK terror plots able to slip back into Britain fromforeign training camps
Mr Jones lived in a £1.5 million home in Hendon, north London, with Slovenianwife Misa Zgonec-Rozej, 40, a director of an international law consultancy,and his two children.
He specialised in extradition, war crimes and counter-terrorism, taking casesfrom the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Lebanon and Cambodia.
One of his clients was Liberian warlord Charles Taylor, 65, sentenced to 50years in a British jail for aiding rebels in Sierra Leone's civil war inreturn for ''blood diamonds''.
In 2014 Mr Jones campaigned for him to be moved to an African prison so hecould be near his family.
The Hague case of Mustafa Badreddine, accused of killing Lebanon's primeminister Rafik Hariri in 2005, was temporarily halted on Tuesday to paytribute to the lawyer who withdrew from representing the defendant inSeptember.
Doughty Street said in a statement: ''John was a brilliant and creativelawyer admired and appreciated for his amazing sense of humour,professionalism and deep commitment to justice. His death is a huge loss.''
Concerns raised over hospital's treatment of 'brilliant' barrister who was hit by train | Camden New Journal
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 23:36
A private hospital has been told it must make changes after the death of Mr Jones
Published: 19 August, 2016By WILLIAM McLENNAN
A LEADING human rights lawyer was allowed to walk out of a private psychiatric hospital at 5am while ''really unwell'' just hours before he jumped in front of a train, an inquest heard.
John Jones QC, a barrister who worked on high-profile war crimes trials at The Hague, died instantly in the collision in West Hampstead on April 18 this year, St Pancras Coroners Court heard yesterday (Thursday).
Mr Jones, a married father-of-two, was the head of international law at Doughty Street Chambers, Bloomsbury.
He had been admitted to the private Nightingale Hospital in Lisson Grove, Marylebone, in March, with a number of mental health issues, which had been given a ''working diagnosis'' of bipolar disorder and anxiety by his psychiatrist.
But the court heard that he spent the majority of the time alone in his room, refusing to attend therapy sessions or even eat in the communal dinning room.
Coroner Mary Hassell raised concerns about his treatment and said: ''He was in his room, lying on his bed or on his laptop. That seems fairly awful in therapeutic terms. To me if I were worried about a person that was mentally unwell I would think that environment was the worst possible environment for them.''
Ms Hassell is to write to the hospital demanding changes she believes must be made to prevent future deaths. She said patients at psychiatric hospitals must be made to engage with therapy.
She said: ''I think his failure to engage was part and parcel of his illness.''
On the day before his death, Mr Jones, who lived in had spent the day with his family, who had become increasing concerned about his wellbeing. The inquest heard that Mr Jones may have been suffering from the side effects of withdrawal from his medication. He returned to the hospital, where he was a voluntary inpatient, that night, but at 5am the following morning he was allowed to leave the hospital after filling out his own risk assessment form.
Ms Hassell questioned the efficacy of such a form, which she described as ''perfunctory''. She said: ''Surely there will be in an incentive for him just to tick 'no I've not got a risk of this' and then just leave.''
In a statement, read to the court, his father, Hugh Jones, said: ''I was astonished he had gone out so early in the morning when he was in such a bad way.''
Mental health nurse, Katie McTaggart, who agreed to let him leave, said he had shown no signs of being a danger to himself. The court heard that, under the Mental Health Act, she could have stopped Mr Jones leaving if she was sufficiently worried about his state of mind. Questioned about allowing Mr Jones to leave the hospital at 5am, Ms McTaggart said: ''We can't section someone because it's early in the morning.''
She said the form was only ''one aspect'' of their risk assessment, adding: ''We do constant risk assessments as nurses.''
She said: ''I didn't have any concerns about him having suicidal plans or planning to harm himself''.
The court had heard that Mr Jones, who lived in Hampstead Garden Suburbs, struggled to continue to work as his condition worsened. He had represented Julian Assange as the Swedish government attempted to extradite the Wikileaks founder. Among his other clients were Saif Gaddafi, the son of the fallen Libyan leader, and Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president serving a 50-year sentence.
At the time of his death, he was described by colleagues as a ''brilliant and creative lawyer''.
Doughty Street Chambers said in a statement: "John was admired and appreciated for his amazing sense of humour, his professionalism and his deep commitment to justice and the rule of law."
Returning a narrative determination, Ms Hassell said that she had no doubt he intended to jump in front of the train, but added: ''The state of his mental health at the time meant he lacked the necessary intent to categorise this as suicide.''
She said: ''It seems to me that at the time of his death he was actually very poorly.''
She said that CCTV footage proved that he acted alone, adding: ''I rule out completely the action of any other person.''
For confidential support, call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90, visit a local Samaritans branch or see samaritans.org for details.
40+ Drugs to Be Dropped By Insurance | The GoodRx Prescription Savings Blog
Thu, 18 Aug 2016 22:06
Americans, get ready for sticker shock at the pharmacy.
In 2017, the nation's largest insurance companies will likely exclude up to 154 different drugs from coverage. If you're taking one of these prescriptions, your co-pay is about to go way, way up.
Last year, popular drugs including Viagra and Qsymia were dropped by major insurance plans for 2016. The trend continues this year. Almost 50 popular brand-name and generic drugs will likely no longer be covered by one of the nation's largest prescription insurance providers.
Who's removing these drugs? Express Scripts and Caremark, companies that handle pharmacy benefits for more than 200 million Americans, are once again removing drugs from their national preferred formularies. Other pharmacy benefit managers will likely announce similar restrictions in the coming weeks.
What are Express Scripts and Caremark?
Express Scripts and Caremark are companies that administer prescription drug benefits for many health insurance companies and Tricare. While you may have health insurance from Anthem, Aetna or another insurer, your pharmacy benefits are usually handled by these companies or their competitors. They create a formulary'--a list of drugs they will cover'--in conjunction with employers and health plans.
What does this change mean for you?
The newly excluded drugs fall into a couple major categories:
Several are brand-name drugs that may have a less expensive brand or generic alternative available.Some drugs work in the same way as similar, cheaper drugs on the market, so only one is preferred by your insurance.
If your benefits are provided by Express Scripts or Caremark, you will pay the full cash price at the pharmacy for these excluded drugs in 2017. (On GoodRx, you can see estimated cash prices in grey next to most discount prices.)
If your coverage is changing, talk to your doctor to see if one of the covered alternatives might work for you. If you can't switch, use GoodRx to find discounts or find patient assistance programs to help cover the cost. You may also be able to appeal the coverage with your insurance provider, with your doctor's help.
Which drugs are affected?
Caremark in particular is making some major changes for 2016, which fall under three general categories: ''hyperinflation'' drugs (drugs that have had recent drastic price increases), new biosimilar alternatives, and stricter restrictions on expensive cancer and hepatitis C medications.
Hyperinflation. Caremark has identified some drugs that have had huge price increases, and excluded a selection that have similar alternatives in the same class of medications. One example is Alcortin A, which saw a 30-fold price hike over the past three years.
Biosimilars. You may have heard news over the past year or so about ''biosimilars'''--basically, generic medications for some specialty or biologic medications like insulin. (For more background on biosimilars, see our post here.)
Notably, Caremark will no longer cover Lantus, one of the most popular insulin brands.
Caremark is the first provider to restrict brand name drugs like Neupogen or Lantus that have (or will have) biosimilars available next year. They are suggesting Zarxio in place of Neupogen, and Basaglar in place of Lantus.
Express Scripts, in contrast, haven't restricted coverage for either Lantus or Neupogen yet, but are maintaining that they plan to reassess based on upcoming product launches over the next year.
Expensive specialty medications. Caremark is also breaking ground by being the first provider to restrict coverage on brand name cancer treatments.
They are also restricting coverage for all of the new hepatitis C treatments, allowing only Sovaldi and Harvoni.
Express Scripts has similar'--but not overlapping'--restrictions, limiting coverage to only Viekira Pak and the newly approved Technivie, both from manufacturer Gilead.
How can I make sure I pick a plan that will cover my drug?
Both Express Scripts and Caremark have made some fairly big changes in coverage over the past few years, and the overlap on many of the excluded drugs is shrinking. If you're trying to choose a new plan, or switch based on coverage of a particular drug, it's always a good idea to review the latest formularies before deciding.
Below, you can find all of the new removals from both formularies in 2017. For a full list of all excluded drugs and covered alternatives, see the Express Scripts list here and the Caremark list here. If you're not sure which company provides your pharmacy benefit, contact your insurance.
If you have a choice though, Caremark will be far more restrictive in 2017. They are excluding about 40 new drugs, for a total of around 130. Express Scripts, in contrast, is only restricting 5 new drugs in 2017, for a total of about 85 that they will not cover.
New Exclusions for 2017
An important note about Medicare and individual plans:
These changes DO NOT apply to Medicare plans; if your Medicare benefit is managed by Express Scripts, you should check your coverage with your pharmacist or online through the Medicare.gov portal.
Some individual private insurance plans managed by Express Scripts or Caremark may also have different coverage. This means different drugs may be covered or excluded on your plan if you have coverage through work, for example. Please get in touch with your insurance provider if you have any questions about your coverage.
Now we know the real reason Aetna bailed on Obamacare
Fri, 19 Aug 2016 13:02
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(President Barack Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the White House.Kevin Lamarque/Reuters) On Monday night, news broke that one of the five largest insurers in the US, Aetna, was leaving 70% of the counties in which it offers insurance through the Affordable Care Act's public healthcare exchanges.
The move was seen as a huge blow to the future of the act, making Aetna the third large insurer, after United Healthcare and Humana, to significantly reduce its Obamacare business.
Aetna cited the large losses that the company has incurred from the exchange business '-- $200 million in the second quarter alone '-- when explaining its decision to roll back its business.
These statements, however, appeared to be a dramatic turnaround from the company's first-quarter earnings call in April, when CEO Mark Bertolini said the firm planned to stay in the exchanges and that the company was "in a very good place to make this a sustainable program."
Now, however, it appears a large reason for the shift in tone was the Department of Justice's lawsuit to block Aetna's merger with rival Humana.
A July letter, acquired by Huffington Post reporters Jonathan Cohn and Jeffrey Young, outlined Aetna's thinking on the public exchanges if the deal with Humana were blocked. The letter from Bertolini to the DOJ outlined the effect of a possible merger on its Affordable Care Act business.
For one thing, Bertolini notes that the cost savings from the Humana deal would allow the companies to further expand coverage into parts of the US.
"As we add new territories, given the additional startup costs of each new territory, we will incur additional losses," the letter said. "Our ability to withstand these losses is dependent on our achieving anticipated synergies in the Humana acquisition."
Additionally, the letter seemed to foretell the move on Monday. Here's the key passage (emphasis added):
"Our analysis to date makes clear that if the deal were challenged and/or blocked we would need to take immediate actions to mitigate public exchange and ACA small group losses. Specifically, if the DOJ sues to enjoin the transaction, we will immediately take action to reduce our 2017 exchange footprint.
"We currently plan, as part of our strategy following the acquisition, to expand from 15 states in 2016 to 20 states in 2017. However, if we are in the midst of litigation over the Humana transaction, given the risks described above, we will not be able to expand to the five additional states.
"In addition, we would also withdraw from at least five additional states where generating a market return would take too long for us to justify, given the costs associated with a potential breakup of the transaction. In other words, instead of expanding to 20 states next year, we would reduce our presence to no more than 10 states."
In other words, the cost of fighting the DOJ would make Aetna unable to sustain the losses incurred from the public exchanges.
According to a letter from the DOJ provided by Aetna, the DOJ asked the company what the effect would be on the firm's Affordable Care Act business if the merger were not completed. Thus, Aetna responded with its letter.
A spokesperson for Aetna said the decision to roll back the coverage was not because of the DOJ's lawsuit, but rather realizing the full details of the losses. The statement from the spokesperson reads, in part:
"In the time since we submitted our written response to DOJ and provided a courtesy copy to [the Department of Health and Human Services], we gained full visibility into our second quarter individual public exchange results, which '-- similar to other participants on the public exchanges '-- showed a significant deterioration. That deterioration, and not the DOJ challenge to our Humana transaction, is ultimately what drove us to announce the narrowing of our public exchange presence for the 2017 plan year.
"If the Humana transaction is eventually blocked, which we don't believe it will be, the underlying logic of our written response to DOJ would still apply with regard to the public exchanges where we will participate in 2017."
In the original letter from Aetna to the DOJ, Bertolini said that if the company lost the lawsuit and the deal were eventually scuttled, Aetna would drop its remaining Affordable Care Act business and leave the public exchanges entirely.
The DOJ declined to comment.
The DOJ blocked the merger between Aetna and Humana, along with the merger of fellow big-five insurers Anthem and Cigna, on the grounds that consolidating the industry would lead to lower competition and higher costs for consumers.
"They would leave much of the multitrillion health insurance industry in the hands of just three mammoth companies, restricting competition in key markets," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said when announcing the lawsuit to block the mergers.
Typically the number of independent options available to consumers is correlated with lower costs.
"If the big five were to become the big three, not only would the bank accounts of the American people suffer, but the American people themselves," Lynch said.
The companies countered that the merger would not affect consumers and would allow the combined firms to be more cost-efficient and sustainable.
Read the full letter from Bertolini, via The Huffington Post, here >>
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CLIPS AND DOCS
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Those Trump Statues Aren't Funny, And They Sure Aren't Progressive - The Establishment
Sun, 21 Aug 2016 13:02
I hate y'all for making me defend Donald Trump.
Yesterday,statues of the Republican presidential candidatepopped up in major cities across the nation. Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Cleveland all found themselves the new owners of a 3D depiction of a naked Trump with an intentionally miniature penis, aptly named ''The Emperor Has No Balls.'' News outlets, major figures'--and even the NYPD itself'--had a good time poking fun at the statues. Once again, Donald Trump's penis is making headlines. INDECLINE, the activist group behind the statues, had this to say:
''It is through these sculptures that we leave behind the physical and metaphorical embodiment of the ghastly soul of one of America's most infamous and reviled politicians.''
To be clear, I love good jokes. I love crude jokes. I love jokes that do what comedy does when it is done well: expose (no pun intended) an oft overlooked and harsh reality in our world. But these statues and the joke around them aren't funny. In fact, they're harmful. And the desire to attack Trump on baseless, superficial, personal grounds'--in conjunction with similar attacks on his base'--seems to have more to do with privilege and posturing, than actually paving the way for a world where the marginalized are centered and cared for.
These statues and the ensuing praise of them say more about the people laughing than they do about Trump himself.
Lord knows I don't like Trump. Besides being an awful candidate, he's alsopersonally threatened meand tweeted outcampaign ads that compare me to ISIS. It's also true that I'm not one forunnecessary civilityorrespectability politics. Hell, I'm even a member of theChurch of High Petty, and I once had a photo of Bernie Sanders andKiller Mikewith the ''Crying Jordan'' meme as my Twitter cover photo. My issue with these statues isn't that I'm sensitive, or that I'm prudish'--or even righteous.
The joke itself is bad. It relies on body-shaming, fatphobia, toxic masculinity, and transphobia to take jabs at Trump. The ''joke'' behind the statues is twofold:
One is that it makes fun of Trump's body, and likely his weight. He is depicted completely naked, rolls and all, and his skin is intentionally blemished. Beyond clearly relying on beauty standards most progressives would normally reject, it seems pretty fatphobic. Even if the artist didn't intend it that way, it has certainly made space for fat shaming.
The second part of the joke is about Trump's dick, or rather, his ''manhood.'' The title itself is an attempt to emasculate Trump in the same way that his shrunken penis is intended to. The implication is that people with a small penis, or lacking testicles, are not real men and are therefore worthy of scorn. Not only does this joke rely on the tired assumption that a big dick makes one ''a real man,'' but it's also transphobic. Not all men have large penises; not all men have penises at all. By undermining Trump's manhood solely on the basis of the appearance of his genitals, it perpetuates the belief that gender is reducible to genitalia and that anyone lacking the ''proper genitals'' by cis-binary standards deserves mocking.
The joke itself is in poor taste. It's a tired and abusive trope that not only fails to push back on Trump's political power, but also promotes the evilness that is fatphobia, body-shaming, and transphobia itself.
Progressives in particular ''going for the low hanging fruit'''--attacking someone whose politics have dangerous implications on personal, oppressive grounds rather than political grounds'--felt eerily familiar. It felt like the kind of personal attacks, in fact, that are often lobbed at his base; that they are ''dumb,'' ''uneducated,'' and ''poor.'' It felt like the classist and elitist remarks that are often used to ridicule the far right. It felt like a conversation amongst privileged white folks, where calling out the Right is more about positioning oneself as the ''good white folks'' than it is about actively resisting the political system that is, for one, killing Black and marginalized folks every day.
If Trump issoawful and progressives aresoupstanding, then why would you rely on hurtful and damaging punchlines to fight back against a man whose behavior terrifies even his own party? What could possibly be more important than sticking to your progressive values around fatness and body positivity and trans-inclusivity in the face of his genuine offensiveness?
This joke, masquerading as political commentary, is what happens when the desire to ''win'''--and more importantly to be ''better than those folks over there'''--becomes stronger than the desire to transform the world's hierarchies. It shows that progressives are willing to uphold clearly oppressive behavior as long as it serves a partisan purpose against those they have deemed ''the bad guys.'' This behavior is less about addressing the real destructiveness of these entities and their politics, and instead resorts to self-serving personal attacks. Because these attacks seem to come out of people's desire to ''beat that guy at any cost,'' and are not serving a specific political outcome, it seems to be more an internal conversation among mostly white folks where white progressives paint themselves as ''better than those white folks over there.''
Not to mention the fact that most Black and marginalized people do not have the luxury of spending efforts on hurling offensive personal attacks at the far right, in part because we have much more dire political concerns, and in part because Trump's base is comprised of precisely the people we will need to organize with in order to get free.
Beneath the partisan language and intentionally seeded fear of brown people and foreigners, the concerns of those on the far right bear great political similarity to those on the far left. In both camps there is a fundamental understanding that the government is corrupt, nonrepresentative, and consistently exploiting the poor. Trump has built his entire platform off of speaking to these fears, and any true resistance to capitalism will require solidarity amongst the working class. Trump's base will be an important part of any nationwide revolutionary work moving forward, and ostracizing them on the basis of elitist ideas of ''intelligence'' undermines the political work of tying modern social movements to the larger class warfare taking place in the world right now.
Additionally, ridiculing Trump and his base doesn't make marginalized people safer. In fact, such open ridicule of Trump can have violent consequences for Black people even if they aren't the ones doing it. Just this week aBlack man was stabbedin Olympia, Washington, by a Trump supporter who felt like he needed to fight back in the midst of increasing racial and partisan tensions.
Escalating these tensions through mudslinging doesn't serve any political purpose. It does, however, have the potential to endanger the most vulnerable people in our communities. The only people who can engage in such meaningless and potentially lethal ''joking'' are those whose bodies enable them to feel relatively safe in a world where Trump supporters roam freely.
So, no, your joke isn't funny. In fact it's dangerous. It reinforces the same oppression that we say we are above. It, along with the superficial attacks on Trump's base, not only unnecessarily increase tensions in our already violent world, but deepen the divisions between the working poor that stand as obstacles to true revolution.
The war against the white supremacy and xenophobia that grows even more public in this country won't be won by throwing the marginalized under the bus for the sake of an easy joke. You are not convincing anyone that you are truly more caring, more just, or more equitable by mocking a terrifying man in a manner that perpetuates the same common beliefs that we are trying to change, beliefs that he himself perpetuates. Instead you are foregoing the hard tasks of increasing political education and building solidarity with people you deem beneath you.
This joke didn't reveal that the emperor has no balls'--but rather that the progressives have no grounding and no truly transformative strategy.
Those naked statues didn't expose the ugliness of Trump, which we already know on political grounds, but the ugliness of partisanship and privilege'--where Black and marginalized folks end up the losers.
Lead image: YouTube
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VIDEO-Naked Statues Of Donald Trump Appear In 5 U.S. Cities! - YouTube
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VIDEO-NBC Seizes on Hillary Trying to Blame Colin Powell for E-Mail Scandal | MRCTV
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More in cross-post on the MRC's NewsBusters blog.
With a news brief in the 9 a.m. ET hour on Friday, NBC's Today jumped on a report that Hillary Clinton tried to blame former Secretary of State Colin Powell for her e-mail scandal during conversations with the FBI. The morning show's news anchor Sheinelle Jones told viewers: ''...sources tell NBC News that Hillary Clinton told the FBI that former Secretary of State Colin Powell recommended that she use a private e-mail account for unclassified communication.''
Clinton of course sent classified information using her private e-mail, which is what prompted the criminal investigation into the matter. Jones continued: ''Clinton says Powell made the suggestion both at a dinner party shortly after Clinton took over at the State Department in 2009 and also in an e-mail exchange around the same time.''
VIDEO-1/15/16: White House Press Briefing - YouTube
Sun, 21 Aug 2016 02:25
VIDEO-Scarborough Blasts Obama for Being 'Condescending' to Media While Lying About Iran Deal | MRCTV
Sun, 21 Aug 2016 02:17
Yesterday during a press conference with State Department spokesman John Kirby, it came to fruition that in January of 2016, the Obama administration used an unmarked cargo plane to airlift $400 million worth of cash to Iran in exchange for four American hostages. Earlier in August, President Obama coyly suggested this wasn't some ''nefarious'' or ''secret'' deal. Friday on Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough had harsh words for Obama, insisting he was ''indignant'' while ''telling deliberate untruths.''
VIDEO-Russ Baker on the Saudi-9/11 Coverup, Part II - WhoWhatWhy
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 18:40
Would the US have been able to sell the invasion of Iraq to the American public and its allies if Saudi Arabia's involvement in the September 11 attacks had been known?
That is the central question WhoWhatWhy's Editor-in-Chief Russ Baker discusses in the second part of his interview on the release of the (redacted) ''28 Pages.''
If you missed the first part, you can view it here.
This is part 1, go here.
Full Text Transcript:
You're watching The Hawks. We've covered the 28 pages extensively, but why isn't the mainstream media making a bigger deal out of this? Well, because it would expose the United States' despicable relationship with Saudi Arabia, a regime that ranks as one of the worst on earth in terms of human rights and which regularly incites violence and extremism throughout the Middle East and the world. That's why. All the more reason to cover the story. The release of the 28 pages coincides with the United States preparing to authorize another $1.15 billion weapons package to Saudi Arabia, and this is on top of the $20 billion in weapons given to the Saudis since they began bombing Yemen back in March 2015. So what is the significance of the 28 pages, and do they have the potential to change the US relationship with Saudi Arabia. Previously we showed part one of my interview with Russ Baker, founder of Whowhatwhy.org and a 9/11 expert. In the second part, I asked Russ if the 28 pages were kept redacted for this long so that American public attention would stay firmly affixed on Iraq and that invasion, instead of where it should have been: on Saudi Arabia. Take a listen to Russ's response.
Russ Baker: That's a critical point you raised, and I would also note that another Clark, General Wesley Clark, at Whowhatwhy we interviewed him. If you go on our site, you can, I hope, find that video where he talks about having been at the Pentagon shortly after 9/11 and being shown a top secret memo which contained a list of nine countries that the Bush Administration had already decided to invade prior to 9/11. So now what you're looking at is they wanted to invade all of these countries, which included Iraq, Syria, Libya and on and on. And they needed a reason to do it. Now, here you have these attacks and they have a reason to do it except unfortunately and inconveniently, the attacks don't point to any of those countries. They point to Saudi Arabia, which also wanted the United States to do all of these invasions to knock out all of these independent leaders like Assad and Gaddafi and so forth and of course Saddam Hussein. All of those who represented different factions within the larger, global Arab community. And so yes, you're absolutely right. There's some very, very profound geopolitics going on here. I agree with you. It probably would have been impossible to prosecute a war in Iraq. I'm not sure that George W. Bush could have been reelected. I think the world would have been a very, very different place had this not been suppressed.
Interviewer: Now let's speculate a little bit on why these pages are finally being declassified at this juncture. I mean there's obviously been a lot of support from 9/11 victim families to want these pages to be declassified and also trying to basically get sort of more of a movement against Saudi Arabia in general to basically put pressure on them as sponsors of terrorism. But why would Obama declassify or allow this to be declassified at this point, when previously he had said he wouldn't allow it to be declassified? There's obviously still a very strong alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia. And the pages themselves do really put doubt on what the Saudi alliance is like if they allow an agent of theirs, including potentially Prince Bandar, to support al-Qaeda operatives in the 9/11 operation. So, could we be seeing a potential shift in our relationship to Saudi Arabia in the near future?
Russ Baker: Yes, that's quite right. In fact, we have been seeing that shift. The Obama Administration itself has significantly distanced itself from the Saudis compared to the Bush Administration. We also see a whole bunch of developments all over the place. We see some Republican members of Congress who would've fought something like this when Bush was president. They were only too happy to see it come out under a Democratic presidency, because sadly the public is not so well informed about these things, and if something comes out during the watch of the opposing party, they don't necessarily understand that that's not the administration that's responsible for the thing. So I think that there's some sense of that. Also, a lot of the reporting that we and some other organizations have been doing about the FBI's role in this, asking questions. Again, we're in a Democratic administration and they've got to, in their justice department have to work with the FBI, so they have to cooperate with whatever efforts there may be to try to prevent some of this from coming to light. So it's a very volatile and very complicated situation. We also have Senator Graham and also a partner of his, a Republican '' Senator Graham is a Democrat, former Senator Graham '' Republican Walter Jones of North Carolina, who's also been a leader in trying to get these things released. Very interestingly, he mentioned that the Republican Party, even though he is an incumbent, conservative Republican, tried to get somebody to run against him because they were against this coming out. So we see this fascinating alliance of Democrats and Republicans who all share a common interest in this not coming out and we see sort of dissident Democrats and Republicans doing what you might call the ''right thing'' and standing up for transparency and for the public to be leveled with as to this incredibly complex and extremely dangerous situation.
Interviewer: Indeed. Could we be seeing a shift, almost a realignment because of Obama's overtures towards Iran in the region where for example, we don't depend on our alliance with Saudi Arabia as strongly as in the past and we actually might be shifting back towards Iran, which actually had been our prior strongest ally from the '50s and the '60s until '79?
Russ Baker: Absolutely, I think any of this is possible. It's a changed game in part because at least temporarily the United States' demand and appetite for fossil fuels is way down and we're finally seeing some major breakthroughs in the cause of renewable energy coming down. There is a real will. I think climate change has a lot to do with it. I think there's a tremendous number of factors in play, absolutely, that the Iran initiative is related to all of that. I do think that we're seeing a realignment and I imagine that the Saudis are panicked because their unique position in the world as the wealthiest royal family with tremendous resources and really incredible lifestyles, which cannot continue if the situation changes and the Saudi people become fed up. The whole game could change on every level!
Interviewer: As far as 9/11 is concerned, I think obviously there's still many questions left unanswered despite the release of the 28 pages. Richard Clark again, whose account of terrorism said himself, nothing in those reports provides any reason to disbelieve the possibility that the CIA, the counter terrorism center and the agency's top management hit a false flag operation that went wrong. A false flag operation, I mean this is the kind of terrorism that starts using this word false flag operation as though there was something that was being planned between the CIA, Saudi agents and al-Qaeda operatives that went wrong. Now whether or not it went wrong or it was part of a much bigger operation that became 9/11, this is fascinating that he's divulging this. What are the questions that remain on 9/11? What are the steps that can be taken towards at least answering some of those questions?
Russ Baker: I think to get context on this, you have to look back at things like the assassination of John F. Kennedy, where a vast majority of the American public suspected right from the beginning, and has increased over the years, that they weren't told the truth. Most of the books by researchers and others who've really looked into the Kennedy assassination found that the official narrative was unquestionably false. The public is divided between those who've read these books and those who haven't. The media has continued very doggedly to defend the Warren Commission and to stick with the official story, and I think we're going to see the same thing with 9/11. The people who over the years have been dismissed as cranks and cooks may turn out to have been right, or at least partially right as suspecting that 9/11 was enabled somehow as part of some kind of grand power play. Now it's so monstrous and it's so horrible and it's so difficult even to imagine logistically exactly how something like this could even be done. So that I think a lot of people in our society, a lot of people in the media '' I think are justifiably wary of jumping to any kind of conclusions. I think there was a lot of psychic resistance, but with these new developments, I think that it's a whole new game. Now, the so called 9/11 truthers sadly are so stuck in whatever their own theory is of what happened that they tend to dismiss all of these new developments around the Saudis themselves as some kind of sleight of hand to distract you from the real story. Well, I think that's wrong. I think you have to do what we try to do at Whowhatwhy is be responsible journalists '' look at whatever evidence there is, particularly evidence that's not in question like the FBI report about the Saudi family in Sarasota, like all of these FBI and CIA reports about al-Bayoumi and Bassami and about Prince Bandar and all of these other figures, their known movements. We have to start with that and we have to meticulously build a picture until we understand where this goes, and we have to be fearless. It may be a really, really terrible story that will change our understanding of almost everything.
Interviewer: Absolutely. Well, I appreciate the work you're doing, Russ, and I really look forward to any more revelations we can discover in the future because obviously 9/11 is still, in my mind at least, an unsolved mystery.
Russ Baker: It absolutely is, and probably the biggest story of our time and it certainly deserves a lot more attention than it's getting.
Interviewer: Yeah. Well, thank you so much for joining me today, Russ, and we'll speak again in the future.
Russ Baker: Thank you.
Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Saudi men(Stephen Downes / Flickr '' CC BY-NC 2.0)and George Bush at Ground Zero(White House / Wikimedia)
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BREAKING VIDEO: Protesters Block Trump Motorcade, JUMP ON VEHICLE!
Sat, 20 Aug 2016 18:23
Protesters at a Donald Trump fundraiser at the Minneapolis Convention Center got between vehicles and jumped on the hood of a Secret Service SUV in Trump's motorcade as the candidate was leaving the building.
WILL THE MEDIA IGNORE THIS TOO?
Police can be seen moving in to clear the protesters but only after a major security breach had taken place.
The video was posted by Emma Sapong with MPR.
Protesters, earlier tonight, trying to stop #Trump's motorcade after his fundraiser in the convention center pic.twitter.com/UUguW2viZ1
'-- Emma Sapong (@EmmaSapong) August 20, 2016
''Protesters, earlier tonight, trying to stop #Trump's motorcade after his fundraiser in the convention center''
The Star Tribune posted a photo of police rushing in to protect the motorcade. The caption used downplays the chaos and harassment caused by the protesters.
Update: Protests at Donald Trump event turn unruly late. Police: No arrests, minor damage. https://t.co/T6fT3A7dk1pic.twitter.com/RbJLBZK024
'-- Star Tribune (@StarTribune) August 20, 2016
''Update: Protests at Donald Trump event turn unruly late. Police: No arrests, minor damage. http://strib.mn/2bzKrKA''
At the Star Tribune website, there was no mention of the protesters blocking and jumping on a vehicle. The photo of police belatedly protecting the motorcade reads:
''Police pushed back forceful protesters in a tense moment as Donald Trump's motorcade left a fundraiser at the Minneapolis Convention Center on August 19, 2016, in Minneapolis, Minn.''
The Leftist website Unicorn Riot accused the Secret Service of attacking the protesters who blocked Trump's motorcade.
Secret Service briefly stole one of our cameras & attacked protesters trying to stop #Trump motorcade '' vid coming pic.twitter.com/1S0FkAs7Wk
'-- Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) August 20, 2016
''Secret Service briefly stole one of our cameras & attacked protesters trying to stop #Trump motorcade '' vid coming''
The Twin Cities Pioneer Press reported a protester claimed his foot was run over by a police vehicle in the motorcade.
''There were no arrests and no injuries reported in connection with the Trump event. One protester who was helped away from the crowd said a police SUV drove over his foot as Trump's motorcade was leaving. Police documented minor damage to the convention center, including spray-painted grafitti on the exterior walls.''
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August 18, 2016 | Clip Of State Department Daily BriefingUser-Created Clipby Caitlin HillyardAugust 18, 2016John Kirby Says State Department Used $400 Million Payment to Iran for "Leverage" Spokesman John Kirby says of the $400 million cash payment to Iran, "We of course sought to obtain maximum leverage until after American'... read more
John Kirby Says State Department Used $400 Million Payment to Iran for "Leverage" Spokesman John Kirby says of the $400 million cash payment to Iran, "We of course sought to obtain maximum leverage until after American citizens were released, and that was our top priority." He says the release of U.S. sailors was not a ransom case. When asked whether Iran would have received the payment if the prisoners had not been released, he replies, "That's correct." close
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On Saturday, a load of computer code -- whose purpose is to break into other computers -- was leaked to the public by an anonymous entity called "The Shadow Brokers."
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Then came the implications of danger: "How much you pay for enemies cyber weapons?" it said in a cheeky style. "We give you some Equation Group files free, you see. This is good proof no? You enjoy!!! You break many things. You find many intrusions."
Cybersecurity researchers around the world have been intensely and rapidly studying the leaked information.
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After examining the leaked computer code, Weaver believes this batch of tools was stolen from the NSA or its partners in 2013.
Brendan Dolan-Gavitt, a computer science assistant professor at New York University, has experimented with some of the samples the hacker made public. He said one tool matches "pretty well" with a top secret NSA tool that was described in documents leaked by ex-NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
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"If it's fake, someone put a huge amount of work into it," Dolan-Gavitt said about the leak.
The FBI declined to say whether it's investigating the potential theft of sensitive information. The office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees the NSA, did not return requests for comment.
Computer security experts noted that the vulnerabilities exploited by these hacking tools are at least three years old and might be stopped if people, corporations and governments keep their software updated.
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