Saturday, December 16, 2017

Today's Links

1--Washington lies to Moscow, then moves Nato troops eastward towards Russia


All western powers and statesmen assured the Russians that NATO would not take advantage of the Soviet retreat and that a new era of amity and cooperation would dawn in post-Cold War Europe. US Secretary of State Jim Baker offered ‘ironclad guarantees’ there would be no NATO expansion. Lies, all lies....

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush quickly began moving NATO into Eastern Europe, violating all the pledges made to Moscow.
The Poles, Hungarians and Czechs were brought into NATO, then Romania and Bulgaria, the Baltic States, Albania, and Montenegro. Washington tried to get the former Soviet Republics of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. The Moscow-aligned government of Ukraine was overthrown in a US-engineered coup. The road to Moscow was open.
All the bankrupt, confused Russians could do was denounce these eastward moves by the US and NATO. The best response NATO and Washington could come up with was, ‘well, there was no official written promise.’ This is worthy of a street peddler selling counterfeit watches. The leaders of the US, Britain, France, Belgium and Italy all lied....

ow, with NATO forces on its western borders, Russia’s deepest fears have been realized.
Today, US military aircraft based on the coasts of Romania and Bulgaria, former Warsaw Pact members, probe Russian airspace over the Black Sea and the vital strategic port of Sevastopol. Washington talks about arming chaotic Ukraine. US and NATO troops are in the Baltic, on Russia’s northwestern borders. Polish right-wingers are beating the war drums against Russia.
In 1990, KGB and CIA agreed to the principal of ‘not one inch’ eastward for NATO. Former US ambassador to Moscow, Jack Matlock, confirms the same agreement....

Is it any wonder after this bait and switch diplomacy that Russia has no trust in the Western powers? Moscow watches US-run NATO oozing ever eastwards. Today, Russia’s leaders firmly believe Washington’s ultimate plan is to tear apart Russia and reduce it to an impotent, pauper nation. Two former Western leaders, Napoleon and Hitler, had similar plans.

2--FBI Edits To Clinton Exoneration Go Far Beyond What Was Previously Known; Comey, McCabe, Strzok Implicated

 

3--Scheme To Pay Off Trump Accusers Emerges, One Woman Was Offered $750,000

 

 4--Iran Joins EAEU - 45 Years Of US Foreign Policy Down The Drain

 

5--Weapons Went From The CIA To ISIS In Less Than Two Months

 

6--Elite Commandos Deployed to 149 Countries in 2017--Donald Trump’s First Year Sets Record for US Special Operations

 

7--More evidence surfaces showing FBI colluded to get Hillary Clinton off the hook for email server (Video

 

8--US secretary of state issues new ultimatum to North Korea

 

Just days after declaring the US was willing to talk to North Korea without preconditions, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivered a fresh ultimatum to Pyongyang. He ruled out any meeting unless it was preceded by a “sustained cessation of North Korea’s threatening behaviour.”
Speaking at the UN Security Council on Friday, Tillerson declared: “North Korea must earn its way back to the [negotiating] table. The pressure campaign must, and will, continue until denuclearization is achieved.” Pyongyang had a choice, he stated, either give up its nuclear weapons programs, “or it can continue to condemn its people to poverty and isolation.....

Tillerson told the Atlantic Council on Tuesday that it was “not realistic to say we’re only going to talk if you come to the table ready to give up your [nuclear] program.” He offered to hold a first meeting with North Korean officials to talk about anything, including “the weather if you want,” in order to break the ice.
Tillerson was quickly pulled into line by the White House, which declared that Trump’s position had not changed, fueling further speculation that the president might remove the secretary of state...

At the UN, Tillerson called on China and Russia to effectively strangle North Korea economically. Faced with the threat of a major US-led war on their doorstep, both countries have already agreed to punitive UN sanctions that ban virtually all North Korean exports and restrict energy imports....

Tillerson sought to assure the UN Security Council that the US was not about to launch a war on North Korea. “We have been clear that all options remain on the table in the defense of our nation, but we do not seek, nor do we want, war with North Korea,” he said.

9-- Jens Stoltenberg and Angelina Jolie call for NATO intervention to promote “gender equality


In fact, from its foundation in April 1949 until the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in July 1991, NATO’s role was dictated by confrontation with the Soviet Union. To this end, it not only fomented a nuclear arms race but was involved in numerous conflicts and interventions from the Korean War to Cuba.
With the juridical liquidation of the Soviet Union in 1991, NATO’s aggressive stance became more overt as it mounted direct military operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan and, more recently, Libya and Syria aimed ultimately at encircling, and dismembering Russia and China.

Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives as a result and millions more have been injured and displaced. These wars, moreover, have been accompanied by the evisceration of all pretence at maintaining democratic norms—including extraordinary rendition and targeted assassinations by drone strikes, not to speak of the gutting of civil liberties “at home.”

This has been the case irrespective of the lofty claims of “humanitarian intervention” and the citing of a “Responsibility to Protect” that accompanied these wars. It is a matter of fact that wherever NATO goes, abject misery and horror follows.

Stoltenberg/Jolie couldn’t care less. They are not out to prevent conflict, but are seeking a pretext to create it. Thus, in a modern day-twist to the “white man’s burden”, they advocate the fight for “cultural change” and “gender equality” through the barrel of a gun.

The article appeared against the backdrop of a vicious, anti-democratic campaign over sexual harassment piloted in Hollywood—America’s “Scarlet Letter” moment. As the World Socialist Web Site has explained, the “Me Too” movement represents an effort by an affluent section of the middle class to achieve a greater share of privileges and wealth.
Stoltenberg/Jolie are now attempting to utilise the same type of self-absorption and indifference to social inequality amongst this constituency to build support for militarism and war.
Their appeal is a weaponisation of feminism in the service of NATO and of imperialist reaction. This is especially necessary when the imperialist alliance is preparing even greater crimes that threaten humanity with a new world war, fought with nuclear weapons....

It is to conceal its predatory aims that Stoltenberg/Jolie attempt to recast NATO as a tool of female emancipation.
NATO will integrate “gender issues into its strategic thinking”, reinforce a “culture of integration of women throughout the organisation, including in leadership positions”, promote “the role of women in the military”, and deploy “gender advisers to local communities”, where “NATO’s female soldiers are able to reach and engage with local communities,” they write.
Without a trace of shame, the op-ed targets Ukraine and Syria as in particular need of NATO’s gender crusade. This on behalf of an organisation that supported fascists in the first conflict, and worked with Islamic extremists, such as the Al Nusra front in the other.
So much for women’s rights! Their white-wash of NATO, this imperialist thieves’ kitchen, should be treated with the contempt it deserves

10--WSJ drops truth bomb! FBI collusion as agency “interfered in an American presidential election”

 

Democrats and the media are accusing anyone who criticizes special counsel Robert Mueller as Trumpian conspirators trying to undermine his probe. But who needs critics when Mr. Mueller’s team is doing so much to undermine its own credibility?

 

Wednesday’s revelations—they’re coming almost daily—include the Justice Department’s release of 2016 text messages to and from Peter Strzok, the FBI counterintelligence agent whom Mr. Mueller demoted this summer. The texts, which he exchanged with senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page, contain expletive-laced tirades against Mr. Trump. Such Trump hatred is no surprise and not by itself disqualifying. More troubling are texts that suggest that some FBI officials may have gone beyond antipathy to anti-Trump plotting.

 

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Mr. Strzok wrote Ms. Page in an Aug. 15, 2016 text. He added: “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
What “policy” would that be? The “Andy” in question is Andrew McCabe, the deputy FBI director. FBI officials are allowed to have political opinions, but what kind of action were they discussing that would amount to anti-Trump “insurance”?
In another exchange that month, Ms. Page forwarded a Trump-related article and wrote:
“Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.”
He thanked her and assured: “Of course I’ll try and approach it that way.”

Mr. Strzok, recall, is the man who changed the words “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless” in James Comey’s July 2016 public exoneration of Hillary Clinton’s emails.
The McCabe meeting came on the heels of the FBI’s launch of its counterintelligence probe into Trump-Russia ties. July is also when former British spook Christopher Steele briefed the FBI on his Clinton-financed dossier of salacious allegations against Mr. Trump. The texts explain why Mr. Mueller would remove Mr. Strzok, though a straight shooter wouldn’t typically resist turning those messages over to Congress for as long as Mr. Mueller did.

Public confidence isn’t helped by the continuing Justice and FBI refusal to cooperate with Congress. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who supervises Mr. Mueller, toed the Mueller-FBI line on Wednesday before the House Oversight Committee. He repeated FBI Director Christopher Wray’s preposterous excuse that he can’t answer questions because of an Inspector General probe. And he wouldn’t elaborate on the news that Nellie Ohr, the wife of senior Justice official Bruce Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS, which hired Mr. Steele to gin up his dossier.
The man who should be most disturbed by all this is Mr. Mueller, who wants his evidence and conclusions to be credible with the public. Evidence is building instead that some officials at the FBI—who have worked for him—may have interfered in an American presidential election. Congress needs to insist on its rights as a co-equal branch of government to discover the truth.

11-- Newly Declassified Documents: Gorbachev WAS PROMISED Numerous Times NATO Wouldn't Move Past East German Border

 

Vladimir Putin have complained bitterly about the expansion of NATO towards their borders despite what they had believed were assurances to the contrary. “What happened to the assurances our western partners made after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact? Where are those declarations today?” Putin said at the Munich Conference on Security Policy in 2007.

“No one even remembers them. But I will allow myself to remind this audience what was said. I would like to quote the speech of NATO General Secretary Mr. Woerner in Brussels on 17 May 1990. He said at the time that: ‘the fact that we are ready not to place a NATO army outside of German territory gives the Soviet Union a firm security guarantee.’ Where are these guarantees?”

12--Ron Chernow’s Grant: An able and compelling new biography

 


In his memoirs, Grant recalled his opposition to the Mexican War. “For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the measure, and to this day regard the war which resulted as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation.” He later argued that it led to the expansion of slave-holding territory in the United States and was a direct cause of the Civil War.
“The Southern rebellion was largely the outgrowth of the Mexican War,” he wrote. “Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions. We got our punishment in the most sanguinary and expensive war of modern times.
he shocking extent of Klan violence in the post-Civil War period is rarely taught in schools. As Chernow writes, “Americans today know little about the terrorism that engulfed the South during Grant’s presidency. It has been suppressed by a strange national amnesia. The Klan’s ruthless reign is a dark, buried chapter in American history. The Civil War is far better known than its brutal aftermath.”

...
Once Reconstruction collapsed, it left southern blacks for eighty years at the mercy of Jim Crow segregation, lynchings, poll taxes, literacy tests, and other tactics designed to segregate them from whites and deny them the vote. Black sharecroppers would be degraded to the level of debt-ridden serfs, bound to their former plantation owners. After 1877, the black community in the South steadily lost ground until a rigid apartheid separated the races completely, a terrible state of affairs that would not be fixed until the rise of the civil rights movement after World War II.
At the same time, historians of the “lost cause” school engaged in apologias for the South’s conduct in the Civil War. They argued that the cause of the war was “states’ rights,” not slavery, built up Robert E. Lee to superhuman status and heaped scorn on Grant as a “drunken butcher.” These lies were embraced even in the North and remain a major influence in history textbooks to this day....

Upon Grant’s death, Frederick Douglass eulogized, “In him the Negro found a protector, the Indian a friend, a vanquished foe a brother, an imperiled nation a savior

13--World’s richest one percent capture twice as much income growth as the bottom half

14--Corbyn's manifesto

 

15----Opposition mounts to sexual harassment witch-hunt

 


“The issue of sexual misconduct has emerged as a centerpiece of Democratic strategy for taking on President Trump and the Republican Party,” Edsall writes. “For Democrats, who have struggled to find traction in their battles with the administration, the explosion of allegations has created an opening to put the focus on Trump—a development greatly enhanced by the Moore debacle.” The latter is a reference to the defeat of the fascistic Republican Roy Moore by right-wing Democrat Doug Jones in this week’s election to the US Senate in Alabama.
Earlier this month, leading Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, opposed a motion to impeach Trump that was based on his fascistic and racist policies. Now, however, according to a separate article in the Times, “Ms. Pelosi has strongly endorsed the push for new hearings on the sexual misconduct complaints against the president....

All of this is being ignored in the campaign over sexual harassment. Class divisions are covered up beneath the claim that all women, regardless of their income, share the same “experience” of being oppressed by men, who, particularly if they are white, enjoy the benefits of the “privileged.”
The sexual harassment campaign is right-wing, antidemocratic and politically reactionary. It has nothing to do with the interests of the workers, men or women....


Politically, the Democratic Party has severed its previous association with social reform. It is a party of Wall Street, the military/intelligence apparatus and the upper-middle class, based on identity politics. This culminated in the Clinton campaign, which sought to divert mass opposition to social inequality and war through the promotion of such issues as the law-and-order demand for harsher sentencing surrounding the case of Stanford University student Brock Turner. This was coupled with the slander that workers who did not support the Democratic Party campaign were expressing white and male “privilege.” The reactionary strategy of that campaign is now being resurrected in the context of the Trump administration


Under the blanket category of “sexual harassment,” an extremely broad range of activity, including that which falls under the framework of normal interpersonal relations, is effectively being criminalized and associated with the horrific crime of rape. The effect is to create a situation where virtually anyone can be singled out and smeared with the charge of being a “sexual predator.”...

This means that misinterpreted word or gesture can result in being fired and blacklisted. This goes a long way in drastically undermining the First Amendment protection of free speech.
From the beginning of the Trump presidency, the Democrats have sought to channel popular opposition to the administration behind a right-wing agenda based on the demands of powerful factions of the military-intelligence apparatus. Hence the campaign over “fake news,” Russian hacking, and now sexual harassment.
Thomas Edsall, in a column published this week (“The Politics of #HimToo”), acknowledges that the campaign is largely driven by political considerations. The column is all the more significant given that it appears in the New York Times, the leading voice in pursuing the sexual witch hunt.


Most urgently we must work with other countries to advance the cause of human rights, to confront the four greatest and interconnected threats facing our common humanity.
First, the growing concentration of unaccountable wealth and power in the hands of a tiny corporate elite, a system many call neoliberalism, which has sharply increased inequality, marginalisation, insecurity and anger across the world.

Second, climate change, which is creating instability, fuelling conflict across the world and threatening all our futures.
Third, the unprecedented numbers of people fleeing conflict, persecution, human rights abuses, social breakdown and climate disasters.
And finally, the use of unilateral military action and intervention, rather than diplomacy and negotiation, to resolve disputes and change governments.


 


 


 NOTES & Links:



Years late to the party, mainstream media outlets like USA Today, Reuters, and Buzzfeed are just out with "breaking" and "exclusive" stories detailing how a vast arsenal of weapons sent to Syria by the CIA in cooperation with US allies fuelled the rapid growth of ISIS. Buzzfeed's story entitled, Blowback: ISIS Got A Powerful Missile The CIA Secretly Bought In Bulgaria, begins by referencing "a new report on how ISIS built its arsenal highlights how the US purchased munitions, intended for Syrian rebels, that ended up in the hands of the terrorist grou
http://russia-insider.com/en/weapons-went-cia-isis-less-two-months-new-study-reveals/ri21962

http://theduran.com/fusion-gps-admits-that-it-hired-wife-of-doj-official-to-investigate-then-candidate-trump/ 


https://southfront.org/fbi-edits-clinton-exoneration-go-far-beyond-previously-known-comey-mccabe-strzok-implicated/

 







 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Today's links

Trump may be a boor and, at times, an insufferable asshole. But that conduct by him neither excuses nor justifies the FBI, the Department of Justice, the CIA and the NSA from deciding to engage in a deliberate campaign of disinformation. Yes, there was collusion to affect the result of last year's Presidential campaign. But that was done by American citizens who supported Hillary Clinton and collaborated with British intelligence operatives. This was not a diabolical plot hatched by Vladimir Putin. Nope. This was American government officials taking it upon themselves to intervene in the U.S. election in a so far failed attempt to undo the decision voters made on 8 November 2016. Seems to me that pitch forks and torches would be appropriate at this point." 

Publius Tacitus

 


Witch hunt-- A politically-motivated, often vindictive investigation that feeds on public fears.
political dictionary.com

Fishing expedition--  any inquiry carried on without any clearly defined plan or purpose in the hope of discovering useful information...dictionary.com

 

 





1--Russiagate BAR


the Republican president-elect was an unpredictable outsider who had rhetorically questioned the bipartisan ruling class consensus on regime change, economic warfare (“free trade” treaties, crippling sanctions) and relentless hostility toward Russia. He would have to be contained, co-opted, or neutralized. Fortunately for the War Party –now decisively Democratic -- Trump is eminently demonizable, and truly deserving of almost any insult

2-- The Foundering Russia-gate ‘Scandal’

 

As much as the U.S. mainstream media has mocked the idea that an American “deep state” exists and that it has maneuvered to remove Trump from office, the text messages between senior FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok and senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page reveal how two high-ranking members of the government’s intelligence/legal bureaucracy saw their role as protecting the United States from an election that might elevate to the presidency someone as unfit as Trump.

 

3-- When Police Kill White People

 

Convicting the killer cop would have created cognitive dissonance too great for them to bear. If police killing became a punishable offense, even for a white victim, they would have to examine the basis of allowing all police to carry guns. The United States is unique among the nations that considers it civilized to have cops armed to the teeth.
The imperative to control black bodies began during the period of enslavement, continued through the days of Jim Crow and even intensified when American legal apartheid ended. The vortex can catch white people too, but by and large their group is committed to maintaining their racist system. If their own people are occasional victims then so be it

4-- US weapons went from Syrian rebels to Daesh in less than two months – study

 

5--NEW NWO. Putin's trifecta: Assad, Sisi and Erdo─čan all on the same day. Trapped in their misinformation bubble most Westerners can't see it, but Moscow is establishing a reputation in the rest of the world for competence and reliability. China ditto. The world is readjusting itself. We approach a tipping point, I think, in which the reality can no longer be hidden. I am stunned by the speed of the decline: only a quarter of a century ago the West was triumphant in everything....

 

Gilbert Doctorow's presentation of his book Does the United States have a future? He starts: "I will explain why a book about the United States failing on the world stage deals so largely with what is happening in Russia." The neocons and their liberal allies, in their overreach, had to attack Russia "Because it has been the only major power to publicly reject the US global hegemony both in word and in deed." Their attempts, ranging from "colour revolutions" to sanctions to regime change in neighbours to Olympic boycotts, have made Russia stronger, more united and more determined and brought Russia and China into close partnership. The ricocheting failure feeds the crescendo of hysteria that is tearing the US polity apart. And the losing wars go on and on. My readers will have noticed that these Sitreps lately have had more to do with Russia-in-the-world and less with Russia internally: Doctorow explains why Russia is now so very central in the geopolitical rebalancing. That was very much not the case when I began the series twenty years ago.

 

6--Robin Wright admits that the Borg has lost in Syria

 

7--Where is the outrage? 

 

The evidence is quite clear. It is no longer a matter of informed speculation that during the final year of Barack Obama's Presidency, key leaders of the intelligence and law enforcement bureaucracies conspired and collaborated to destroy Donald Trump. The latest evidence to emerge comes via an email dump of messages sent and received by a senior FBI Agent Peter Strzok. Strzok was not a low level worker bee covering counter intelligence matters. Nope. He occupied a senior position in the world of counter intelligence. This means he was a frequent visitor to CIA Headquarters and regularly dealt with CIA Director John Brennan.....

 

Strzok briefed the committee on Dec. 5, 2016, sources said. But within months of that session House Intelligence Committee investigators were contacted by an informant suggesting that there was “documentary evidence” that Strzok was purportedly obstructing the House probe into the dossier....

 

that is why Strzok played a key role in pushing the sordid, politically suspect Trump dossier as sound intel to justify domestic spying on Donald Trump and his team. All done in the name of saving America. Strzok was not a lone actor in this sedition. We also have Bruce Ohr, a Deputy Attorney General in the Department of Justice and a man directly tied to the Trump dossier. According to several media reports

The House Intelligence Committee  . . ., “has learned that Bruce Ohr, an associate attorney general, not only spoke with dossier writer Christopher Steele but also met after the election with Glenn Simpson, whose Fusion GPS hired Mr. Steele with Democratic Party money.”. . .
According to Fox News, citing Congressional sources, “Simpson and Ohr met sometime around Thanksgiving last year, when President-elect Trump was in the process of selecting his cabinet, and discussed over coffee the anti-Trump dossier, the Russia investigation and what Simpson considered the distressing development of Trump’s victory.”

And then we learned that Ohr's wife, Nellie, worked for Simpson at Fusion GPS and also worked previously for the CIA on Russian matters:
Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr’s duties – including whether she worked on the dossier – remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.

Trump may be a boor and, at times, an insufferable asshole. But that conduct by him neither excuses nor justifies the FBI, the Department of Justice, the CIA and the NSA from deciding to engage in a deliberate campaign of disinformation. Yes, there was collusion to affect the result of last year's Presidential campaign. But that was done by American citizens who supported Hillary Clinton and collaborated with British intelligence operatives. This was not a diabolical plot hatched by Vladimir Putin. Nope. This was American government officials taking it upon themselves to intervene in the U.S. election in a so far failed attempt to undo the decision voters made on 8 November 2016. Seems to me that pitch forks and torches would be appropriate at this point.


8--Lessons of the Alabama election

 

9--Outgoing Fed chair Yellen brushes off financial warning signs

 

10-- Bitcoin frenzy: The fever chart of a deepening crisis

 


 





Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Today's links

1-- Why has Time magazine endorsed the #MeToo “revolution”? (Today's "must read")

 

“Decades of identity politics have disoriented and corrupted social thought. The displacement of the scientific evaluation of society on the basis of class with the flimflam of gender and race has lowered social consciousness.”...

 

By its action, Time has simply confirmed the fact that the #MeToo movement has the official backing of important portions of the American ruling elite....

 

what sort of “revolution” receives the benediction of Time, one of the leading mouthpieces of the American establishment for more than 90 years?

 

he weekly news magazine has been an ardent defender of US imperialist interests for the entirety of its existence. Henry Luce, Time’s founder and longtime owner, and eventually one of the wealthiest men in America, was particularly close to the Central Intelligence Agency. He was a “good friend” of Allen Dulles—the agency’s director from 1953 to 1961—and “readily allowed certain members of his staff to work for the Agency and agreed to provide jobs and credentials for other CIA operatives who lacked journalistic experience” (Carl Bernstein, “The CIA and the Media,” Rolling Stone, 1977). There is no reason to believe that Time’s friendly relationship with the US government’s “Murder Inc.” has ended.

Why has this thoroughly compromised publication decided to honor “The Silence Breakers”?
As far as some of the more politically sensitive sections of the American ruling class are concerned, the current sexual misconduct scandals have two principal benefits. First, the purge of prominent figures in Hollywood, Washington and elsewhere on the mere say-so of accusers is another step on the road to authoritarian rule and the destruction of elementary democratic rights. Justified for nearly 20 years by the “war on terror” and other “national security” concerns, the assault on constitutionally guaranteed rights is far advanced. Individuals have been detained and tortured, drone missiles launched, “kill lists” drawn up, wars organized, and entire countries devastated without legal authorization and behind the backs of the American population.

The “gender cleansing” taking place, in which familiar and even popular personalities disappear (literally) overnight, McCarthyite-style, without having the right to defend themselves, often on the basis of anonymous accusations, has to be seen in this anti-democratic framework. One of the aims of the new repression is to create a climate of fear and intimidation. “Sexual predators”—and even “serial daters”!—may be the target at the moment, but in the longer term, the authorities have political dissidents and left-wing opponents of the status quo in their sights....

(Hillary) Clinton’s reactionary intervention in the Brock Turner case at Stanford University in June 2016, and the entire media storm around that affair, had that specific aim in mind. The public was meant to understand that Clinton too could find the case “heartbreaking.” Never mind that this was a blood-soaked warmonger firmly in the pocket of Wall Street. Her empathy as a woman provided her with “progressive” credentials. The Time Person of the Year award is an extension of this rotten propaganda campaign....

The collectively decisive transactions that people have are socioeconomic ones and reflect their relations to the dominant economic state of affairs, to what Frederick Engels termed “the stubborn facts of the existing system of production.” In fact, the degree to which “nature” and biology immediately influence the outcome of women’s lives in the US has dramatically declined in recent decades. Individual women may tragically have their lives traumatized, devastated or even destroyed by sexual violence, but that is not the universal or even nearly universal experience. The far more common experience is direct capitalist exploitation and economic violence. In the US, women accounted for 18 percent of the labor force in 1900. As of 2015, women accounted for 47 percent of the American labor force, or 73,000,000 women, and some 49.3 percent of all jobs (because so many women have more than one job)....

The contention that women of all social classes should unite out of fear of male sexual violence and subordinate themselves to bourgeois feminist (and, in fact, Democratic Party) politics arises, appropriately enough, at a time when the social polarization of the female population itself has reached new heights, i.e., when class antagonisms among women are more stark and dramatic than at any point in history.
This is not a subject the feminist movement cares to address. As Kathleen Geier observed, tellingly, in the Nation in November 2016, “Class differences among women are an all but taboo subject.”...

Ruth Milkman, professor of sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center, wrote in 2017 in The Sociologist, “Class inequalities among women are greater than ever before. Highly educated, upper-middle class women—a group that is vastly overrepresented in both media depictions of women at work and in the wider political discourse about gender inequality—have far better opportunities than their counterparts in earlier generations did. Yet their experience is a world apart from that of the much larger numbers of women workers who struggle to make ends meet in poorly-paid clerical, retail, restaurant, and hotel jobs; in hospitals and nursing homes; or as housekeepers, nannies, and home care workers.”...

Aside from the occasional lip service, the identity politics warriors have no interest in the needs or fate of working class women, whose conditions have deteriorated, along with those of working class men, for decades. Tens of millions of working class women remain stuck in low-paid, dead-end, often grueling jobs. In 2013, for example, according to the Department of Labor, some 72 percent of cashiers were female (median weekly earnings, $379, or $19,708 yearly), 88 percent of maids and housekeeping cleaners ($406 a week), 95 percent of childcare workers ($418 a week), 84 percent of personal care aides ($445 a week) and 89 percent of teacher assistants ($475 a week).
Neither the Democratic Party officialdom, the New York Times or Time magazine, nor any of the “Me Too” sex vigilantes and media personalities raise the urgent problems of poverty wages, health care and abortion rights, affordable childcare, public education or immigrants’ rights....

The struggle against all forms of violence against women is the struggle for the unity of the working class and socialism.

2--Fear of Corbyn driving politics in UK


However, opinion in financial and business circles remains deeply divided over whether Labour can be trusted to replace the Tories.

Corbyn’s anti-austerity rhetoric is anathema to the financial oligarchy—not primarily because of the policies formally advanced, but because Labour can only come to power through a political shift to the left among workers and young people. Having done so, will Labour be able to play the same role as Syriza did in Greece—promising austerity only then to impose it, or will the expectations raised among millions breech the political firewall of a Corbyn government?

A report by Morgan Stanley on the European Economic Outlook warns that it is now “likely” Britain will have a general election in 2018, but a Corbyn government is a greater threat to the UK economy than a “hard Brexit”.

“From a UK investor perspective, we believe that the domestic political situation is at least as significant as Brexit, given the fragile state of the current government and the perceived risks of an incoming Labour administration that could potentially embark on a radical change in policy direction”, the report declared....

The Financial Times asks, “Can business learn to live with a ‘hard-left’ Labour?” It cites warnings from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) that plans to nationalise the rail, energy and water industries and the Royal Mail would “send investors running for the hills”.

Another FT article, “Money managers nervous over prospect of PM Corbyn,” quotes Bobby Vedral, a banker partner at Goldman Sachs, declaring that a Corbyn win would make the UK like “Cuba without the sunshine,” and Edi Truell, a private equity investor, “who has already taken his entire £250m family fortune out of the UK and moved it to Switzerland.”

Corbyn’s response to such attacks was to issue a video via Twitter in which he said, “Bankers like Morgan Stanley should not run our country but they think they do… So when they say we’re a threat, they’re right: We’re a threat to a damaging and failed system that is rigged for the few.”...

From the standpoint of a defence of the social and economic interests of the working class and the young people whose hopes they have aroused, Corbyn and McDonnell’s gaseous leftism counts for nothing.
...Labour in office would function as the conscious and willing defender of the interests of British imperialism. It will betray its promises to working people of social and economic change, just as surely as its historical and international counterparts and pave the way for yet more savage attacks on living standards, democratic rights and a steeper descent into militarism and war

3--Ex CIA chief on Trump, Putin and Mueller


... an array of career spooks have come out of the shadows where they spent their careers to challenge the commander-in-chief in once unthinkably public terms...

Morell acknowledges that he and other spy-world critics of the president failed to fully “think through” the negative backlash generated by their going political. “There was a significant downside,” Morell said in the interview.....

in August of 2016, when I became political, when I endorsed Hillary Clinton with an op-ed in The New York Times,  ...

let’s put ourselves here in Donald Trump’s shoes. So, what does he see? Right? He sees a former director of CIA and a former director of NSA, Mike Hayden, who I have the greatest respect for, criticizing him and his policies. Right? And he could rightfully have said, “Huh, what’s going on with these intelligence guys?” Right?
Glasser: It embroiders his narrative.
Morell: Exactly. And then he sees a former acting director and deputy director of CIA criticizing him and endorsing his opponent...

The current director at the time, John Brennan, during the campaign occasionally would push back on things that Donald Trump had said...

hen people in the intelligence community—particularly people in CIA, because for every other part of the intelligence community except CIA, you’re working for a cabinet member. At CIA, you are working for the president of the United States. That is your customer. Right? 

I think in the early Putin days as president, and then certainly when Medvedev was president and Putin was prime minister, Russia was not what it is today. We were interacting with them in a much more normal way—we being the United States and Europe. It was only when Putin came back the second time as president, that the behavior started to turn, and turned significantly back towards what was essentially Russian behavior during the Cold War, which is challenge the United States everywhere you can in the world, and do whatever you can to undermine what they’re trying to accomplish. Do whatever you can to weaken them.

They’re being extraordinarily aggressive with regard to that. And that was a change. That wasn’t Vladimir Putin from day one. 

 

Glasser: That’s very interesting to me, because Russia did invade Georgia in 2008, before Putin returned officially to the presidency.
And I think the Obama White House arguably staked its Russia policy on the view that you are expounding, that somehow Russia was more amenable to us, and then with Putin’s return to power, that it changed in some marked way. 

 

Morrell:  Georgia was a turning point. I think Georgia was a really important moment, and maybe that should have been the wakeup call, you know, that moment where he was willing to invade a neighbor....

 

It is possible at that moment, that Steve Bannon and Steve Miller and Sebastian Gorka walked into Trump’s office in Trump Tower and said, “You know, you’re being criticized for what you said about Putin and Russia, but, boss, you’re right. Right? You’re absolutely right, and let us give you the intellectual context in which to think about this. And the intellectual context in which to think about it is, we actually need Russia as a partner, to push back against the two biggest threats that we see.”

Glasser: Right. China, yes.
Morell: Bannon, Miller and Gorka. China and Islamic extremism. And, Russia, a white, Christian country, fits—
Glasser: Their worldview.
Morell: Their worldview. Right? So, Putin might have played him, and then Bannon gives him an intellectual framework to say, “You’re right. Keep talking about this.” So, that is the totally benign view.
Am I open to the possibility that there is a malign view? Absolutely. I don’t discard that. I’ve been criticized by some people on the left for saying I don’t see any evidence here of a crime. I still don’t see any evidence of a crime. It doesn’t mean there is any. I just don’t see it....

Morell: So, let’s talk about what I think the possibilities are, going forward. So, I would not be surprised if Bob Mueller concludes that the Trump campaign did not violate the law with regard to its interactions with the Russians. I’m really open to that possibility. Why? Because, as you know, The New York Times, The Washington Post, every media outlet that is worth its salt has reporters digging into this, and they haven’t found anything.
And I think that, had there been something there, they would have found something. And I think Bob Mueller would have found it already and it would have leaked.
So, I’m really open to the possibility that there’s no there there on a crime being committed by the campaign and the Russians. Right? That interaction leading to criminal charges...

every FBI investigation that I’ve ever had visibility into or been involved in, the people who they’re looking at actually don’t end up getting charged with the crime they were being investigated for. They get charged with something else. Right? And that something else in this case could be the laundering of Russian organized crime funds. And if that was done by the Trump organization—if that was done knowingly—it’s a criminal violation.  ...

The fourth thing I’d say is, the obstruction of justice issue. In my view, when I read the statute, boy, it looks—you know, it looks like you could make a case. Now, the hard part is intent. Right? You have to intend to violate the statute. You have to intend to obstruct justice. That’s the difficult piece to prove here.
You need something on paper, or you need somebody who heard the president say something about what he was trying to do here, or you need him to tell you that. Right? Well, he’s not going to do that. And so, while it looks like it to all of us, that that’s what he was trying to do—you’ve got to get to that intent part, and that’s what’s hard from a criminal perspective

(on Kim Jong Un) Morell: He is. He is most definitely a rational actor. Within his worldview, right?

4--McCabe Cancels Testimony, Something "Far More Sinister" With Fusion GPS

 

5--US holds massive military drills aimed at North Korea despite warnings from Moscow


 






 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Today's Links

"No matter your views on those political controversies, no matter how much you hate Trump or regard Russia as a grave villain and threat to our cherished democracy and freedoms, it has to be acknowledged that when the U.S. media is spewing constant false news about all of this, that, too, is a grave threat to our democracy and cherished freedom."

Glenn Greenwald  



1--Barack Obama's Parting Gift to Donald Trump Was Mike Flynn

I can tell you from personal firsthand experience that nobody should ever, EVER, talk to the FBI, at least without an attorney sitting right next to you. FBI agents will lie, cheat, and deceive to get you to trip yourself up in your response to their questions. Even if you don’t remember what you said in some particular conversation months or years ago, or if your recollection is fuzzy, they will charge you with a felony for “making a false statement.” That’s the leverage that they want over you....

In the greater scheme of things, Mike Flynn is a small fish. His son, Mike Jr., who was also implicated in the case, is a smaller fish. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has Jared Kushner in his sights. He has Donald Trump Jr. in his sights. Eventually, he wants to get the president, if the evidence leads him there. Mike Flynn can give him that evidence. That’s why he made an agreement to plead guilty to that false statements charge. He likely won’t see any prison time, and his son won’t be charged with any crime at all. In exchange, the Flynns, along with George Papadopoulos and, probably, Richard Gates, will all be free to rat out Kushner and the Trumps. That’s the end game.

2--National Democrats Resist Reforms


With the purged Rules and Bylaws Committee now overwhelmingly stacked against progressives, only massive pressure from the grassroots will be able to sustain momentum toward a democratic Democratic Party. Meanwhile, corporate forces will do all they can to prevent the Democratic Party from living up to its first name....

Now, in the words of Jim Zogby (who was removed from the Executive Committee by Perez), “There are virtually no Bernie supporters on the Rules and Bylaws Committee.”

“We are fighting for racial, social, economic, and environmental justice. The Democratic Party needs everyone, regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, country of origin, language, or socioeconomic status, to be deeply involved in order to change the course of this country.”

For those reasons, he added, “we are calling for an end to superdelegates, [for] open primaries and caucuses, [for] same-day registration, and [for] more transparent, fair, and accountable leadership at the helm of the DNC.”

Overall, the commission approved some recommendations that were partial victories for progressives. Among the most notable: It called for reducing the number of notoriously undemocratic superdelegates to the national convention from 712 to about 300, while the only democratic number would be zero. [Superdelegates are party insiders who are not chosen through a primary or caucus but nevertheless get to vote for the party’s nominees. In 2016, they broke overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton.


3-- More Russiagate absurdities


The result of all this impressive activity?  Precisely nothing.  Here is what Senator Richard Burr, its Republican chairman, had to say

There are concerns that we continue to pursue. Collusion?  The committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion. Now, I’m not going to even discuss any initial findings because we haven’t any...


The scandal has paralysed the foreign policy of the US government as Donald Trump’s signature policy upon which he was elected – rapprochement with Russia – has been blocked because of a concocted scandal with no substance behind it. 



WASHINGTON—The Pentagon plans to keep some U.S. forces in Syria indefinitely, even after a war against the Islamic State extremist group formally ends, to take part in what it describes as ongoing counterterrorism operations, officials said. There are approximately 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, along with an unspecified number of contractors supporting them. Last month, the U.S. military withdrew 400 Marines from Syria, which U.S. forces first entered in the fall of 2016.

U.S. defense officials stressed there would be no large, permanent bases in Syria of the kind the U.S. maintains in places like Germany and South Korea. Instead, troops will be assigned to smaller bases and outposts. In some instances, troops will deploy temporarily from other bases in the region for specific missions, one of the defense officials said. It isn’t clear how many forces would stay in the country.


The Times article published Saturday was written as a brief for the US military intervention in Syria and a more aggressive American confrontation with Russia for dominance in the Middle East. The Pentagon recently acknowledged that over 2,000 US troops are presently deployed inside Syria—more than four times the number previously admitted—and indicated that there is no intention of withdrawing them after their ostensible mission of defeating ISIS is completed....

Washington has intervened in Syria with the diametrically opposed objective of continuing the drive for regime change that it began in 2011 by fomenting a sectarian-based insurgency relying on Sunni Islamist militias funded and armed by the CIA, Turkey Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni Gulf oil sheikdoms. With the defeat of these Al Qaeda-linked elements, US imperialism has backed a new proxy ground force, the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is wholly dominated by the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia. This in turn has heightened tensions in the region, particularly with Turkey, which regards the YPG as an extension of the Turkish Kurdish PKK, against which Ankara has waged a bloody counterinsurgency campaign for decades....

the former official spokesman for the SDF, Talal Silo, who defected to Turkey late last month, told the Reuters news agency that the US had approved the evacuation of thousands of ISIS fighters from the besieged city Raqqa in October. He said that some 4,000 people were bused out of the city, all but about 500 of them ISIS fighters.
Silo’s account confirmed an earlier report by the BBC, which quoted sources who participated in this exodus as stating that the convoy transporting the ISIS members, along with large quantities of arms and ammunition, was some four miles long, including 50 trucks, 13 buses and 100 ISIS vehicles.
Silo told the news agency that the claim by the Pentagon and its proxy forces that a fierce battle was taking place inside Raqqa “was all theater,” designed to keep journalists away from the city during the evacuation.
He said that Washington’s support for the evacuation was driven by its determination to quickly end the Raqqa siege and redeploy the Kurdish militia and its US special operations “advisers” to Deir Ezzor province, the center of Syria’s oil and gas reserves as well as the country’s border with Iraq. The US aim was to cut off the border and thereby disrupt Iranian influence by blocking its land access to Syria.
In a separate interview with the Turkish media, Silo said that according to the US plan, “the [ISIS] terrorists would go to Al-Bukamal [near the Iraqi border] and prevent the regime’s advance.”
The former SDF spokesman said that Raqqa was not the first time the US and its proxies had facilitated the escape of ISIS forces, but rather the third. In the capture of Manbij in northern Aleppo province in 2016, he said, 2,000 ISIS members were evacuated. “The SDF, the U.S. and Manbij Military Council provided security for Daesh [ISIS] members and allowed them to go towards Jarablus. This was the first agreement,” he said.
Subsequently, during the siege of Al Tabqah, on the Euphrates River, the US and its proxy force negotiated the evacuation of 500 ISIS fighters. In both cases, the Islamists were allowed to leave with their weapons and ammunition.
The testimony of Silo, who collaborated closely with top US officials and military commanders in Syria, is another damning exposure of the “war on terrorism.” ISIS, itself a product of Washington’s intervention in the Middle East, has served as another instrument of American military aggression aimed at asserting US imperialist dominance over the oil-rich region.


” average hourly earnings rose only 0.2 percent, or five cents, to $26.55 an hour, from a downwardly revised 0.1 percent drop in wages in October. Year-to-year wage increases in November were only 64 cents, or 2.5 percent. If wages rise by another nickel in December, yearly salaries will be up a mere 2.4 percent in 2017, barely above the official projected inflation rate of 2.0 percent....

Economic analysts have pointed to anemic wage growth, euphemistically called weak “inflationary pressure,” as a major factor in the determination of the Federal Reserve to continue pumping up the stock market with cheap credit. Although most economists expect a modest interest rate hike at the Fed’s meeting Wednesday, Jerome Powell, President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Federal Reserve, made clear last month at his Senate confirmation hearing that he would keep rates at historically low levels. At the same time, he assured the senators that there was little danger of a wages push because of continuing “slackness” in the labor market, i.e., an ample supply of workers desperate for full-time employment.
Other analysts agree. “Wage growth has been muted thus far,” especially given the “very healthy pace of job creation,” said Michelle Meyer, head of US economics at Bank of America. “It’s been the story throughout the course of this year.”...

According to the government, 6.6 million workers in the US remain unemployed, including 1.6 million, or nearly one out of four jobless people, who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. Another 4.8 million were forced to work part-time last month although they want full-time work, and 1.8 million were “marginally attached” to the labor force. The latter want to work but did not search for employment in the four weeks preceding the survey and were therefore not counted as “unemployed.”
The labor force participation rate, or share of working-age people in the labor force, remained at 62.7 percent in November. However, just 79 percent of the prime-age work force, aged 25 to 54, is actually working—below the rate before the 2008 financial crash