Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Director of the FBI Reopens the Hillary Case — Paul Craig Roberts


The Director of the FBI Reopens the Hillary Case

Paul Craig Roberts

Word has reached me from Washington that the FBI has reopened the Hillary case of her violation of US National Security protocols, not because of the content of the new email releases, but because voter support for Trump seems to be overwhelming, while Hillary has cancelled appearances due to inability to muster a crowd. The popular vote leaves the FBI far out on the limb for its corrupt clearance of Hillary. The agency now has to redeem itself.

I myself do not know what precisely to think.  Having been at the top of the Washington hierarchy for a quarter century, I have seen many mistaken judgments.  At one time I had subpoena power over the CIA and was able to inform President Reagan that the CIA had misled him.  He took note and proceeded with his policy of ending the Cold War with the Soviets.  On other issues I have been mistaken, because I assumed that there was more integrity in government than actually  exists.

However, FBI director Comey did not need to reopen the case against Hillary simply because some new incriminating emails appeared.  Having dismissed the other incriminating evidence, these emails could have passed unremarked. 

The problem for the FBI, which once was a trusted American institution, but no longer is, is that there is no longer any doubt that Donald Trump will win the popular vote for president of the United States.  His appearances are so heavily attended that thousands are turned away by local fire/occupancy regulations.  In contrast, Hillary has curtailed her appearances, because she doesn’t draw more than 30 or 40 people.

Americans are sick to death of the corrupt Clintons and the corrupt American media.  The Clintons are so completely bought-and-paid-for by the Oligarchy that they were able to outspend Hollywood on their daughter’s wedding, dropping $3,000,000 on the event.

Nevertheless, I don’t underestimate the power of the Oligarchy.  As Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury I experienced the Oligarchy’s power.  If I had not been backed by the President of the United States, I would have been destroyed.

Indeed, the Oligarchy is still trying to destroy me.

Possibly Trump, as his enemies allerge, is just another fake, like Obama who misled the electorate. However, Trump attacks the Oligarchy so strongly that it is hard to believe that Trump isn’t real. Trump is asking for a bullet like John F. Kennedy, like Robert Kennedy, like Martin Luther King, like George Wallace.

In Amerika, dissidents are exterminated.

Trump is up against voting machines over which he has no control.  If there are no INDEPENDENT exit polls, Trump can easily be robbed of the election, as the Texas early voting scandal indicates, with the electronic machines assigning Trump votes to Hillary. The “glitch” doesn’t assign any Hillary votes to Trump.

My expectation is that, unless Trump’s popular vote is so overwhelming, the electoral collage vote will be stolen. Because of the absence of any valid reporting by the presstitutes, I don’t know what impact the orchestrated election of Hillary would have on the electorate. Possibly, Americans will break out of The Matrix and take to the streets.

I beleve that Hillary in the Oval Office would convince the Russians and the Chinese that their national survival requires a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the crazed, insane government of the United States, the complete narcisstic state that in the words of Hillary and Obama is “the exceptional, indispensible country,” empowered by History to impose its will on the world. This crazed American agenda is not something that Russia and China will accept.

Here is Donald Trump speaking to Americans in words Americans have been waiting to hear:  

Notice that Trump doesn’t need teleprompters.

I do not agree with Trump on many issues, but the American people do. For me and for the world, the importance of Trump is the prospect of peace with Russia. Nuclear war makes every other problem irrelevant.

If Hillary is installed by the Oligarchy—this is a word used by former Democratic President Jimmy Carter who said that the US is no longer a functioning democracy but is ruled by an Oligarchy—war with Russia and China will be upon us.

After 15 years the Taliban and ISIS still run wild in the Middle East despite the efforts of the American “superpower.” Unable to defeat a few lightly armied Taiban after 15 years, what prospects does the enfeebled US have of winning a conflict with Russia and China?

None whatsoever.

The United States has had an entire generation of people born into a war for which the purpose is inexplicable. Why these wars?  Why this endless slaughter of women and children and endless columns of refugees overwhelming all of Europe desperately striving to escape Washington’s wars of world hegemony.  Why do not the total dumbshits in Washington hear when the President of Russia says that “Russia can no longer tolerate the state of affairs that Washington has created in the world.”

The unjustified arrogance of Washington, a washed up Third World State, is likely to destroy life on earth. No greater danger to life exists than Washington. We have to hope that Trump can clean out the Augean Stables.

The post The Director of the FBI Reopens the Hillary Case — Paul Craig Roberts appeared first on


Liberals’ blind faith: The silence on the misogyny in the Muslim world is deafening




Lebanese Muslim Shiite women (Credit: Getty/Patrick Baz)

In a new 90-second video ad, a Muslim-focused political action committee rightly slams Donald Trump for his sinister proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

While Trump is wrong-minded as he pounds the drumbeat of “us vs. them” with the Islamic world, I also hope liberals can move beyond blind defense of the Muslim religion and assess it with greater nuance. I say this as someone who has endured considerable alienation by challenging the premises of Mormonism, my childhood faith (even after facing discrimination growing up because of my religion). While initially painful, thinking about Mormonism objectively has broadened my worldview and allowed me greater ability to analyze any institution, religious or otherwise.

I wish many Muslims and liberals would be so objective when looking at the brutally misogynistic behavior associated with some Muslims’ interpretations of sharia and reject the knee-jerk reaction that paints anyone who questions the modern Muslim world as Islamophobic. The refusal to do so is chilling those of us who unequivocally believe in women’s rights, who believe in freedom of expression, who believe in rationality and critical thinking. Last week in a #SalonTalks interview, author Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, who is otherwise incredibly talented and articulate, essentially said that the horrible French move to ban the “burkini” is essentially on par with an anti-woman acid attack; this is as false equivalency.

Bill Maher often wisely points out the hypocrisy of liberals and feminists whose calls for equality stop at the borders of Islamic thought and Muslim-majority countries. Liberals often take shots at Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a heroine who has risked more to dismantle the patriarchy than any American woman like Al-Khatahtbeh, who is lucky to be an American and not subjected to the obscenely anti-woman practices of genital mutilation, arranged marriage, acid attacks and more that many Muslim girls not living in the West are forced to endure.

Pew has done broad research on Muslims’ views of women. A disappointingly high percentage of Muslims worldwide, across all countries, believe a woman must obey her husband. Pew reports that Muslims in South Asia and Southeast Asia overwhelmingly hold this view, and that in all countries surveyed in these regions, some 90 percent or more say wives must obey their husbands. And in the countries surveyed in the Middle East and North Africa, about 75 percent or more say the same.

Then there is the issue of the veil. There is broad disagreement among Muslim-majority nations about whether women have the choice to remain uncovered or be forced to wear a veil, a textbook definition of patriarchy.

The sexist attitudes run deep and keep women in economic subservience. According to Pew, very few Muslim-majority countries have a majority of respondents who believe that men and women should receive equal inheritance.

Sadly, the United Nations turns a blind eye to the abuses against women, in part emboldened by U.S. policy toward the Middle East.

As Ida Lichter, author of “Muslim Women Reformers: Inspiring Voices Against Oppression,” points out:

“Defenders of women’s rights have been thwarted by the U.S. Administration’s disregard of reformers, and backing for the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, despite Egypt and Tunisia deposing their Brotherhood affiliated governments. Women’s rights were also hindered in the UN when Iran was elected to the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), and Islamist Sudan was nominated to join the UN Human Rights Council and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which elects members of CSW. Although the UN does important humanitarian work, it is overgrown with the weeds of a dysfunctional bureaucracy and spineless leadership, and has become a watering hole for states that are prepared to sanction sex discrimination and extremist ideology without fear of serious challenge by the world body.”

Some liberal observers have argued that global misogyny is agnostic; it can exist in any country dominated by any religion. For them, the Muslim world’s misogyny is not inherently Muslim, but rather a twisted interpretation of Islamic law. And for this I am proud of liberal, rational Muslims: for being powerful voices calling for a reformed, moderated and pro-woman interpretation of Islam. Their voices must be bolstered and amplified.

Yet the truth remains that substantial majorities of Muslims in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa believe that sharia should be the basis of law in their countries. These Muslim majorities do not believe in the separation of church and state. It boggles the mind how Western liberals can hyperventilate about a harmless Christmas tree or the phrase “In God We Trust” even as Muslim countries are explicitly using sharia to defend their misogyny.

I have many Muslim friends, including women who are like sisters to me. I’ve lived and traveled extensively throughout the Middle East — I speak from a position of respect, not one of denial. There is much to admire about Muslim faith and culture. Just as I’m very proud of my Mormon friends for taking a principled moral stand against the bigotry of Donald Trump, I’m proud of many Muslims who have fought against the onslaught of hate released by Trump on Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a Gold Star, American Muslim family whose son perished fighting overseas to defend America. As a fellow religious minority, Mormons join with Muslims in understanding that Trump’s call for a ban on the followers of an entire faith is discriminatory and utterly un-American.

Even while speaking out and defending against the persecution of Muslims, non-Muslim observers should be able to point out that women receive subhuman treatment in many Muslim-majority countries without being accused of attacking Islam. We are simply saying that there are major problems in these countries and let’s do something about it rather than defending Islam or attacking Islam. We are not anti-Muslim simply by being 100 percent pro-woman.


Come Hillary or High Water, It’s Just About Hell Week for the Economy


The following article by David Haggith was published first on The Great Recession Blog

Is Hillary Clinton crazy?

Election week is only about a week away. No matter who wins, rage will break out across the US landscape because, for the time being, the flames are kept minimally under a lid by hope on each side that their candidate will win. If Hellary Clinton loses, the establishment will come unhinged. If Trump loses, the Tumpettes are already sounding their war cry against the election results. Nothing is going to settle down no matter who wins; but to give Trump’s supporters some encouragement, should the worst befall them, I offer the following silver lining:

As horrible as I believe a Hillary presidency would be — with its suffocating smog of endless scandals and swirl of smoke clouds from all the wars she would continue to instigate — as she so clearly did while senator and then secretary of state — a Hillary presidency would have one great benefit: it would in fairly short order bring clarity for the entire nation to the fact that the nation’s economic ruin is the fault of the establishment (something about which many are obviously in great denial or they wouldn’t vote for Hillary in the first place).

Hillary is as establishment as you get; so is Obama; so was George Bush (both of them); so are most of the Republicans and Democrats in congress. While that is stating the obvious, the point I am working up to is that a Hillary victory is a chance for a total flush four years from now.

The US economy is beyond saving at this point, anyway, regardless of who wins, and it will take a crash to push the reset button and wake America up. Having that crash hit while the establishment fully holds the reins should leave 100% of the blame at their feet, and it’s not the much longer to wait.

I was thinking of writing about this hope when I read the following from David Stockman about what Hillary will face as president if she wins, with which I entirely agree, though I’d give a much shorter timeframe for the inevitable chain of events to come:


…because things are going to blow up in the next four years, there will be a stock market crash, there will be a recession, the annual deficit will be back in the plus trillion dollar category very soon and it will all come down on her head and on the watch of the establishment….


And maybe that will wake up the public, because it’s going to be bad. And what Trump proved in this campaign is that the establishment, you know, will do anything politically to stop a challenge. But if we have the crisis that I know is coming, then maybe this thing can be busted wide open and we have a chance to clear the decks and start again. (Newsmax)


That, I think, is the best outcome from this election — national clarity when it all comes down as it most certainly is beyond saving at this point. For that reason only, I think a Hillary victory would actually be the best thing to happen to us (economically, but I am not sure it is worth the other non-financial costs we’d pay). The crash of the entire economy around Hillary’s feet would galvanize the resistance to the establishment and all but assure an anti-establishment victory across the entire political landscape in the next election.


Signs of indifference that needs to break


The flatlining stock market, which I wrote about in my last article, barely had enough energy to raise an eyebrow today at the ostensibly good news that GDP growth doubled since last quarter to almost 3% — a number associated with fairly normal US economic growth.

It didn’t go up because, “Yay, the economy is finally running at normal speed” or down because “Yikes, that means the Fed will be more likely to raise interest rates.” Instead of either response, like a dying person, the market couldn’t have cared less what was happening economically in the world today. That says to me the crash is imminent.

This same day, it registered the kind of upheaval that will come from the establishment if Trump wins. The market immediately plunged a hundred points when news broke of another FBI investigation that could cause trouble for Hillary. Not to worry, though, the Fed or government fix kicked in shortly thereafter and brought the market back up to its flatline status quo.

My biggest concern if Hillary wins is that Trump (and with him all anti-establishment voters) will be made into the establishment’s scapegoat. They have already been preparing for this in consort with their media supporters, through whom they plan to say to American voters, “We told you the stock market would crash and take the economy down with it you elected Trump. See what happens when you don’t listen to us and support the superior establishment.”

Of course, a world raging with wars, as I’ve shown Hellary has planned, is a steep price to pay for the opportunity to lay all blame for our economic doom at the establishment’s feet. That’s why it’s hard to say a Hillary victory, besides meaning I have to endure four years of nausea is worth the cost. I have no idea how bad the cost in wars might actually get if she wins.


The US economy is sinking fast, regardless of today’s GDP number


Consider the following recent headlines as a sign of the way the national and global economy continue to slide into the abyss of the Epocalypse — regardless of what the GDP data indicated today: (The headlines help explain the continual decent that is seen in the flatlining graph of the Dow I presented earlier this week even during a time when the government appears to have pulled out all stops to keep the economy afloat through the election year.)


  • Caterpillar Posts Lower Earnings, Cuts 2016 Outlook” Cat has been in relentless decline for the last three years because heavy industry all over the world (including in the US) is in decline, so companies are not buying heavy equipment.
  • Twitter Said to Plan Hundreds More Job Cuts as Soon as This Week” Twitter is symptomatic of a decline throughout high-tech. The euphoric ride up for unprofitable companies came to an end more than a year ago, just as happened when the euphoric dot-com boom went bust. Even Apple, which carried the Tech sector on its back for years, reported its first annual decline in sales since 2001 due to a 17% drop in China, and China was the market that was maintaining some demand for the rest of the world.
  • Italian Bank to Cut 2,600 Jobs, Close Branches in Rescue Overhaul” Italy’s oldest bank and Germany’s oldest and largest bank continue to teeter on the edge of bankruptcy. These are some of the oldest banks in the world — banks that survived the Great Depression — but their days are clearly numbered. “The bank published the plan Tuesday as it posted a 1.15 billion-euro ($1.3 billion) loss for the three months through September.”
  • Ford to Idle Four Factories as Slowing Sales Bloat Inventory” The press was crowing in their mind-numbing way about how well American auto manufacturers were doing all of last year and at the start of this year. I said it wasn’t so — that US automakers would find themselves in a bad situation this year because because they’re now counting leases as sales and would soon be getting back millions of used cars and because they repeated all their past financial gimmicks: absurdly slack credit terms on their internal auto loans looked just like what auto manufacturers were doing before the economic crisis of 2007-8 … when I also said automakers would be going down within a year. Those slack loan terms, coupled with an increase in defaulting loans, made me say last year, “What’s your end game for next year once you have pulled sales from that year into the present with these easy-to-walk-away-from terms?” Well, we’re there … again! Its even falling apart in the area of Ford’s greatest strength — its truck and SUV plants. Mustang sales, too, dropped 32% at the start of this auto year (September).
  • Harley-Davidson Plans to Cut Jobs as US Sales Fall 7 Percent” Things are not looking any better for the nation’s oldest continuously operating motorcycle manufacturer either. “The motorcycle manufacturer cited continued slowed U.S. motorcycle industry growth as the main factor for weaker retail sales.”
  • RED ALERT: Get ready for a ‘severe fall’ in the stock market, HSBC says” A technical analyst for one of the world’s largest banks now warns that the current stock market pattern looks eerily similar to the pattern that immediately preceded the crash in 1987.
  • Bank of America has a recession warning that’s downright ‘scary’” BofA joins HSBC to say it sees a chilling trend: “We are seven years into a full-fledged, all out, central bankers doing everything they can to stimulate demand.” Yet demand is beyond evasive. “There are a lot of itchy trigger fingers. There’s lot of violent trades that can really roil a fairly complacent environment.”
  • China facing full-blown banking crisis, world’s top financial watchdog warns” “The Bank for International Settlements warned in its quarterly report that China’s ‘credit to GDP gap’ has reached 30.1, the highest to date and in a different league altogether from any other major country tracked by the institution. It is also significantly higher than the … the US subprime bubble before the Lehman crisis. Studies of earlier banking crises around the world over the last sixty years suggest that any score above ten requires careful monitoring.”
  • Biggest market crash in HISTORY is coming as HUGE debt bubble bursts, top investor warns” Michael Pento, a bond fund manager who has written for The Huffington Post, Bloomberg, Peak Prosperity, USA Watchdog, and who has often appeared on CNBC says we are now living in “the most dangerous [time] I have ever witnessed in my entire life – and I’ve been investing for over 25 years. The membrane has been stretched so wide and so tight that its about to burst.”
  • Why the Stock Market Could Be Headed for a 1987-like Crash” Chris Matthews writes in Fortune that “we’re in the middle of the longest earnings recession since 2008…. What’s worse, estimates show that they will decline for a sixth straight quarter…. But Jim Bianco, president of Bianco Research argues that even this forecast might be overly optimistic…. Big picture, all the lines are headed down.”


That is far from a list of all that is currently going wrong with the US economy. It’s simply the headlines that caught my eye in the last week or two. The economy is dying to where the establishment can barely even keep the stock market alive at a time when it would be devastating for them to have it crash. Nothing has the power to save us from this fate, not even the braggadocios Trump.

If Hillary wins, all hell will break loose. It’s a rage that needs to happen, and it will be next to impossible to deny where the blame lies (I think, although the grip of economic denial has been indefatigable so far). Not saying I wish a Hillary victory on the nation or the world; just trying to be an optimist by pointing out the silver lining on the clouds.

Clarity and breaking out of economic denial so that we get a real grasp of what we need to do are more important for the nation than anyone’s poorly conceived economic recovery plan at this point. Until the nation gets real about what its problems are, its not going to find any real answers to them. That has to start with the majority of people coming to grips with the fact that the establishment doesn’t have any answers at all. It’s not even looking for an answer.


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Must Read of the Day – Dennis Kucinich’s Extraordinary Warning on D.C.’s Think Tank Warmongers


WAR is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small “inside” group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes.


When CIA and NSA Workers Blow the Whistle, Congress Plays Deaf


Do the committees that oversee the vast U.S. spying apparatus take intelligence community whistleblowers seriously? Do they earnestly investigate reports of waste, fraud, abuse, professional negligence, or crimes against the Constitution reported by employees or contractors working for agencies like the CIA or NSA? For the last 20 years, the answer has been a resounding “no.”

My own experience in 1995-96 is illustrative. Over a two-year period working with my wife, Robin (who was a CIA detailee to a Senate committee at the time), we discovered that, contrary to the public statements by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell and other senior George H. W. Bush administration officials (including CIA Director John Deutch), American troops had in fact been exposed to chemical agents during and after the 1991 war with Saddam Hussein. While the Senate Banking Committee under then-Chairman Don Riegle, D-Mich., was trying to uncover the truth of this, officials at the Pentagon and CIA were working to bury it.

At the CIA, I objected internally — and was immediately placed under investigation by the CIA’s Office of Security. That became clear just days after we delivered the first of our several internal briefings to increasingly senior officials at the CIA and other intelligence agencies. In February 1995, I received a phone call from CIA Security asking whether I’d had any contacts with the media. I had not, but I had mentioned to CIA officials we’d met with that I knew that the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” was working on a piece about the Gulf War chemical cover-up. This call would not be the last I’d receive from CIA Security about the matter, nor the only action the agency would take against us.

In the spring of 1995, a former manager of Robin’s discreetly pulled her aside and said that CIA Security agents were asking questions about us, talking to every single person with or for whom either of us had worked. I seemed to be the special focus of their attention, and the last question they asked our friends, colleagues, and former managers was, “Do you believe Pat Eddington would allow his conscience to override the secrecy agreement he signed?”

The agency didn’t care about helping to find out why hundreds of thousands of American Desert Storm veterans were ill. All it cared about was whether I’d keep my mouth shut about what the secret documents and reports in its databases had to say about the potential or actual chemical exposures to our troops.

Seeing the writing on the wall, I began working on what would become a book about our experience: “Gassed in the Gulf.” The agency tried to block publication of the book and attempted to reclassify hundreds of previously declassified Department of Defense and CIA intelligence reports that helped us make our case. After I filed a lawsuit, the agency yielded. We left and became whistleblowers, our story a front-page sensation just days before the 1996 presidential election. Within six months, the CIA was forced to admit that it had indeed been withholding data on such chemical exposures, which were a possible cause of the post-war illnesses that would ultimately affect about one-third of the nearly 700,000 U.S. troops who served in Kuwait and Iraq. None of the CIA or Pentagon officials who perpetrated the cover-up were fired or prosecuted.

A US soldier (C) stands 09 February 1991 somewhere in Saudi Arabian desert in front of a French armored vehicle (VAB) from the 6th Foreign Legion Engineers Regiment. Both soldiers are wearing chemical warfare equipment. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait 02 August 1990, ostensibly over violations of the Iraqi border, led to the Gulf War which began 16 January 1991. A U.S.-led multinational force expelled Iraq from Kuwait during the "Desert Storm" offensive and a cease-fire was signed 28 February 1991. (Photo credit should read MICHEL GANGNE/AFP/Getty Images)

A U.S. soldier, wearing a gas mask and chemical warfare equipment, stands in front of a French armored vehicle from the 6th Foreign Legion Engineers Regiment in Saudia Arabia on Feb. 9, 1991.

Photo: Michel Gangne/AFP/Getty Images

Around this time, a small, dedicated group of NSA employees was trying to solve another national security problem: how to make it possible for the government to eavesdrop successfully in the age of the internet.

Led by NSA crypto-mathematician Bill Binney, the team developed an ingenious technical program called ThinThread, which allowed the NSA to process incoming surveillance information but segregate and discard the communications of innocent Americans. The program was innovative, cheap, and badly needed. But just months before the 9/11 attacks, then-NSA Director Michael Hayden rejected ThinThread in favor of an untested, expensive alternative called Trailblazer, offered by a Washington, D.C.-based defense contractor. It became a pricey boondoggle that never produced a single piece of intelligence.

Enraged that a program they believed could have prevented the 9/11 attacks had been jettisoned, Binney and his colleagues privately approached the House Intelligence Committee. When that failed to produce results, they issued a formal complaint to the Defense Department’s inspector general.

The subsequent investigation validated the allegations of the NSA ThinThread team. But in spite of this vindication, all who had filed the complaint were subsequently investigated by the FBI on bogus charges of leaking classified information. The episode is now the subject of an Office of Special Counsel whistleblower reprisal investigation, involving former NSA senior manager and ThinThread proponent Tom Drake. I have read the Defense Department inspector general report, which is still almost completely classified, and filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking its declassification. The Pentagon has stonewalled my request for more than a year and a half.

Congress has made no effort to investigate any of this.

Within the small, tight-knit circle of ex-intelligence community whistleblowers and the nonprofit organizations that work on their behalf, the ThinThread/Trailblazer case became infamous. By early 2013, it had come to the attention of a young NSA contractor named Edward Snowden, who had surreptitiously collected damaging proof that the NSA had taken the very technology that Binney and his team had developed and turned it inward, on the American public.

After blowing the whistle to multiple news organizations, Snowden made clear that the terrible experience of the NSA ThinThread team had led him to believe that taking his concerns to Congress would be pointless. Given the subsequent revelations by then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and then-Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., that they privately objected to the George W. Bush administration’s domestic spying program but did nothing to stop it, Snowden’s decision was entirely rational.

In September 2016, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., released a three-page summary of a classified 36-page “damage assessment” on Snowden’s revelations. Although it claimed that Snowden’s disclosures had “caused tremendous damage to national security,” the committee produced no evidence that the leaks had led to the death of a single American. The committee did imply that Snowden had given American secrets to the Russians — an allegation no prosecutor involved in the case has made and not contained in the Justice Department’s indictment against him.

Most outrageously, the committee claimed that laws at the time provided protection for Snowden to blow the whistle through official channels. That’s false. Legal safeguards for contractors working for the NSA and other spy agencies existed in pilot form between 2008 and 2012. When they were up for renewal in the annual Defense Department policy bill in 2013, they were rejected — by the House Intelligence Committee.

We now live in a country where the committees charged with reining in excessive domestic spying instead too often act as apologists and attack dogs for the agencies they are charged with regulating. As a result, it’s pretty clear that those intelligence agencies — and not the elected representatives of the American people — are really running the show in Washington.

Top photo: A photographer closes in on CIA Director John Deutch on Capitol Hill on Feb. 22, 1996, prior to a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Deutch and other intelligence officials had made statements about the use of chemical weapons during the Gulf War—that no such weapons were used—that contradicted the findings of Eddington and his wife.

The post When CIA and NSA Workers Blow the Whistle, Congress Plays Deaf appeared first on The Intercept.


GMO Mosquito Army Released in Zika Fight in Brazil & Colombia


Scientists are planning to release an army of millions of modified mosquitoes in areas of Brazil and Colombia. They say the unusual approach is an attempt to provide “revolutionary protection” against mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika and chikungunya.


Remember When the Media Sold Us the Iraq WMD Lies? It’s Happening Again

iraqThis time Russia is the target.


Didn’t Vaccines Eradicate Diseases? An Untold Truth About Vaccines


If you’ve been paying attention, you probably know that vaccines have been a huge topic of discussion for a long time now, and a very emotional one as well. But regardless of which side of the debate we are on, our worries are well justified. We have seen many diseases emerge over the course of human history that we want to protect ourselves and our children from, and so we came up with ways to do that. The challenge is, our methods may have also increased our risk for developing other diseases and health problems, and we need to look at that side of the story.

Right off the top, we need to stop looking at it from a pro or anti vaccine stance, relying on blind faith and emotion to support our views. Both sides of the coin use propaganda to bash the other and this actually reduces a very serious conversation to hate fuelled and fact deficient bickering. The media has also done a great job of ensuring that questioning this topic is seen as sheer heresy to begin with. But there are real concerns and very real information backing those concerns to consider.

As a human race, we need to come together, drop all the arguments, and simply figure things out for the betterment of all — not for pharmaceutical gain, not because we’re afraid to change (or because we’ve ‘always’ done things this way), and not because we want to prove the government or ‘the man’ was wrong. We need to approach all things openly like this, in the spirit of community and collaboration.

One thing I’ve always wanted to do is create a space for scientists to conduct unbiased research on this issue — to take 10 scientists whose research shows that vaccines are safe and 10 scientists whose research shows the opposite and get them in on an independently funded study, working together. This would ensure there is no fudging of science, results, data or anything by either side to produce desired results.


People have been very misled about a lot of public health issues in our world. This was made clear most recently when the Heart and Stroke Foundation released a new statement about heart health. They claim (finally) that saturated fats are actually not the problem, nor unhealthy, and it’s more about a well thought out diet than anything else.[1] The idea that saturated fats have been vilified and are actually very important to brain health has been going around for decades through people the mainstream considers quacks, yet as is so often the case, these people were proven correct a couple decades later when the mainstream finally caught up.

I believe we need to keep these types of track records in mind when we are presented with ideas that are new or alternative to what is currently accepted. We could start to slow the dissemination of poor health information in the mainstream, the belief in which is misleading people and causing them to lead less healthy lives.

Vaccine education is also very important. There’s plenty of misinformation out there on both sides of the coin and it’s causing confusion among the masses. Part of this is a result of lack of public knowledge, since it’s often difficult to find good information, and part of it is a result of the mainstream handing out inaccurate information to shape and manipulate public opinion.

A great example of that is with common diseases, which people believe vaccines eradicated completely. Yet in truth, they were either wiped out naturally or eliminated by some other societal upgrade. Why is this important to know? Because the more we know about what is ACTUALLY going on, the better we can stop responding to these issues emotionally and the clearer the picture becomes for how to move forward.

Here is a graph from the Journal of Pediatrics that illustrates how clean water and effective sewer systems caused the greatest decreases in most infectious diseases, not vaccinations.


Here is another key link for future reading that looks at vaccinations from an honest point of view.

Check out the video below.

Here is a transcript of the video for those who cannot watch it.

Ty Bollinger: But didn’t vaccines wipe out all the communicable diseases: the diphtheria, the pertussis, the polio, weren’t vaccines responsible for that?

Dr. Sherri Tenpenny (vaccine expert): You know, it’s interesting, because every time someone is new to this topic it always starts from, “Well, what about smallpox, what about polio?” Well, I do an hour and a half talk on that so I can maybe give you two sentences that say the answer is no. That less than 10 percent of the global population was actually vaccinated for the smallpox vaccine, and it was a virus that was dying out and becoming weaker over time, and when we introduced hygiene and refrigeration, that’s when the smallpox started to go away. And then, of course, it morphed into this other type of virus called monkeypox, and so smallpox is still around, it’s just given a different name.

The same thing with polio. The epidemic of polio in this country was well on its way out before 1954 when FDR released the polio vaccine. And we’ve seen nothing but travesty about that ever since. And the only places in the world that still report any polio are places that are using the oral polio vaccine, which is a live virus.

The other thing is that polio is not a synonym for paralysis, and that the vast majority of people don’t understand that 98 percent of people who actually were exposed to the polio virus, and maybe even contracted the infection [that] caused polio, it was nothing more than looking like a stomach flu. It was some diarrhea. It was maybe a little bit of fever, and it just passed through that you maybe thought you had food poisoning and then you had lifetime immunity to this gastrointestinal virus.

But we have done such an amazingly good job impregnating multi-generationally into people’s brains about iron lungs and little children with braces and people with deformed limbs. That happened so infrequently in the big picture, but yet we have this horrifying terror of polio when we really shouldn’t.

I mean we’ve spent billions of dollars around the world to eliminate that virus. What if we would have spent those billions of dollars on potable water and refrigeration and better hygiene? What could we have done with that?

Learn from some of the smartest people alive… doctors and scientists revealing information that is being suppressed from you by the mainstream media and the medical establishment. Please share this important truth about vaccines with friends and family below.


Related CE Article that is heavily sourced: The Top 6 Reasons Why Parents Should Never Be Forced To Vaccinate Their Children.


The Zika Virus Is Harmless. It Does Not Cause Birth Defects

After nearly a year of causing hysteria, mass travel cancellations and unnecessary abortions it finally daunts to “journalists” and “experts”  that the Zika virus is harmless. It can cause a very minor flue – two days of a low fever…


Inside the Invisible Government: War, Propaganda, Clinton and Trump

The American journalist, Edward Bernays, is often described as the man who invented modern propaganda. The nephew of Sigmund Freud, the pioneer of psycho-analysis, it was Bernays who coined the term “public relations” as a euphemism for spin and its…


Waking Up in Hillary Clinton’s America


As this endless election limps toward its last days while spiraling into a bizarre duel over vote-rigging accusations, a deep sigh is undoubtedly in order. The entire process has been an emotionally draining, frustration-inducing, rage-inflaming spectacle of repellent form over shallow substance. For many, the third debate evoked fatigue. More worrying, there was again no discussion of how to prevent another financial crisis, an ominous possibility in the next presidency, whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton enters the Oval Office — given that nothing fundamental has been altered when it comes to Wall Street’s practices and predation.

MORE ON Economy & Work

John Stumpf, chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo, testifies before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Sept. 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Jail Wells Fargo CEO and Chairman John Stumpf!

BY Nomi Prins | September 30, 2016

At the heart of American political consciousness right now lies a soul-crushing reality for millions of distraught Americans: the choices for president couldn’t be feebler or more disappointing. On the one hand, we have a petulant, vocabulary-challenged man-boar of a billionaire who hasn’t paid his taxes, has regularly left those supporting him holding the bag and seems like a ludicrous composite of every bad trait in every bad date any woman has ever had. On the other hand, we’re offered a walking photo op for and well-paid speechmaker to Wall-Street CEOs, a one-woman money-raising machine from the 1 percent of the 1 percent, who, despite a folksiness that couldn’t look more rehearsed, has methodically outplayed her opponent.

With less than two weeks to go before E-Day — despite the Trumptilian upheaval of the last year — the high probability of a Clinton win means the establishment remains intact. When we awaken on Nov. 9, it will undoubtedly be dawn in Hillary Clinton’s America and that potentially means four years of an economic dystopia that will (as would Donald Trump’s version of the same) leave many Americans rightfully anxious about their economic futures.

None of the three presidential debates suggested that either candidate would have the ability (or desire) to confront Wall Street from the Oval Office. In the second and third debates, in case you missed them, Clinton didn’t even mention the Glass-Steagall Act, too big to fail or Wall Street. While in the first debate, the subject of Wall Street only came up after she disparaged the tax policies of “Trumped up, trickle-down economics” (or, as I like to call it, the Trumpledown economics of giving tax and financial benefits to the rich and to corporations).

In this election, Hillary Clinton has crafted her talking points regarding the causes of the last financial crisis as weapons against Trump, but they hardly begin to tell the real story of what happened to the American economy. The meltdown of 2007-08 was not mainly due to “tax policies that slashed taxes on the wealthy” or a “failure to invest in the middle class” — two subjects she has repeatedly highlighted to slam the Republicans and their candidate. It was a byproduct of the destruction of the regulations that opened the way for a too-big-to-fail framework to thrive. Under the presidency of Bill Clinton, Glass-Steagall, the Depression-era act that once separated people’s bank deposits and loans from any kind of risky bets or other similar actions in which banks might engage, was repealed under the Financial Modernization Act of 1999. In addition, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act was passed, which allowed Wall Street to concoct devastating unregulated side bets on what became the subprime crisis.

[I]t’s reasonable to imagine that, in January 2017, Hillary Clinton will launch the third term of Bill Clinton when it comes to financial policy, banks and the economy.

Given that the people involved with those choices are still around and some are still advising (or in the case of one former president living with) Hillary Clinton, it’s reasonable to imagine that, in January 2017, she’ll launch the third term of Bill Clinton when it comes to financial policy, banks and the economy. Only now, the stakes are even higher, the banks larger and their impunity still remarkably unchallenged.

Consider President Obama’s current treasury secretary, Jack Lew. It was Hillary Clinton who hit the family Rolodex to bring him back to Washington. Lew first entered Bill Clinton’s White House in 1993 as special assistant to the president. Between his stints working for Clinton and Obama, he made his way into the private sector and eventually to Wall Street — as so many of his predecessors had done and successors would do. He scored a leadership role with Citigroup during the time that Bill Clinton’s former Treasury Secretary (and former Goldman Sachs co-Chairman) Robert Rubin was on its board of directors. In 2009, Hillary Clinton selected him to be her deputy secretary of state.

Lew is hardly the only example of the busy revolving door to power that led from the Clinton administration to the Obama administration via Wall Street (or activities connected to it). Bill Clinton’s Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs, Timothy Geithner, worked with Robert Rubin, later championed Wall Street as president and CEO of the New York Federal Reserve while Hillary Clinton was a senator from New York (representing Wall Street), and then became Obama’s first treasury secretary while she was secretary of state.

One possible contender for treasury secretary in a new Clinton administration would be Bill Clinton’s Under Secretary of Domestic Finance and Obama’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman, Gary Gensler (who was — I’m sure you won’t be shocked — a Goldman Sachs partner before entering public service). These, then, are typical inhabitants of the Clinton inner circle and of the political-financial corridors of power. Their thinking, like Hillary Clinton’s, meshes well with support for the status quo in the banking system, even if, like her, they are willing on occasion to admonish it for its “mistakes.”

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton introduced her running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), at a Miami rally over the weekend. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/WireImage)

This throughline of personnel in and out of Clinton World is dangerous for most of the rest of us, because behind all the “talking heads” and genuinely amusing Saturday Night Live skits about this bizarre election lie certain crucial issues that will have to be dealt with: decisions about climate change, foreign wars, student-loan unaffordability, rising income inequalitydeclining social mobility and, yes, the threat of another financial crisis. And keep in mind that such a future economic meltdown isn’t an absurdly long-shot possibility. Earlier this year, the Federal Reserve, the nation’s main bank regulator, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the government entity that insures our bank deposits, collectively noted that seven of our biggest eight banks — Citigroup was the exception — still have inadequate emergency plans in the event of another financial crisis.

Exploring a Two-Faced World

Politicians regularly act one way publicly and another privately, as Clinton was “outed” for doing by WikiLeaks via its document dump from her campaign manager John Podesta’s hacked email account. Such realities should be treated as neither shockers nor smoking guns. Everybody postures. Everybody lies. Everybody’s two-faced in certain aspects of their lives. Politicians just make a career out of it.

What’s problematic about Clinton’s public and private positions in the economic sphere, at least, isn’t their two-facedness but how of a piece they are. Yes, she warned the bankers to “cut it out! Quit foreclosing on homes! Quit engaging in these kinds of speculative behaviors!” — but that was no demonstration of strength in relation to the big banks. Her comments revealed no real understanding of their precise role in exacerbating a fixable subprime loan calamity and global financial crisis, nor did her finger-wagging mean anything to Wall Street.

Keep in mind that, during the buildup to that crisis, as banks took advantage of looser regulations, she collected more than $7 millionfrom the securities and investment industry for her New York Senate runs ($18 million during her career). In her first Senate campaign, Citigroup was her top contributor. The four Wall Street-based banks (JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley) all feature among her top 10 career contributors. As a senator, she didn’t introduce any bills aimed at reforming or regulating Wall Street. During the lead-up to the financial crisis of 2007-08, she did introduce five (out of 140) bills relating to the housing crisis, but they all
died before making it through a Senate committee. So did a bill she sponsored to curtail corporate executive compensation. Though she has publicly called for a reduction in hedge-fund tax breaks (known as “closing the carried interest loophole”), including at the second debate, she never signed on to the bill that would have done so (one that Obama co-sponsored in 2007). Perhaps her most important gesture of support for Wall Street was her vote in favor of the $700 billion 2008 bank bailout bill. (Bernie Sanders opposed it.)

After her stint as secretary of state, she returned to the scene of banking crimes. Many times. As we know, she was also paid exceedingly well for it. Friendship with the Clintons doesn’t come cheap. As she said in October 2013, while speaking at a Goldman Sachs AIMS Alternative Investments’ Symposium, “running for office in our country takes a lot of money, and candidates have to go out and raise it. New York is probably the leading site for contributions for fundraising for candidates on both sides of the aisle.”

[Hillary Clinton] was voracious when it came to such money and tone-deaf when it came to the irony of it all.

Between 2013 and 2015, she gave 12 speeches to Wall Street banks, private equity firms and other financial corporations, reaping a whopping $2,935,000 for them. In her 2016 presidential run, the securities and investment sector (aka Wall Street) has contributed the most of any industry to PACs supporting Clinton: $56.4 million.

Yes, everybody needs to make a buck or a few million of them. This is America after all, but Hillary Clinton was a political figure paid by the same banks routinely getting slapped with criminal settlements by the Department of Justice. In addition, the Clinton Foundation counted as generous donors all four of the major Wall Street-based mega-banks. She was voracious when it came to such money and tone-deaf when it came to the irony of it all.

Glass-Steagall and Bernie Sanders

One of the more illuminating aspects of the Podesta emails was a series of communications that took place in the fall of 2015. That’s when Bernie Sanders was gaining traction for, among other things, his calls to break up the big banks and resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933. The Clinton administration’s dismantling of that act in 1999 had freed the big banks to use their depositors’ money as collateral for risky bets in the real estate market and elsewhere, and so allowed them to become ever more engorged with questionable securities.

On Dec. 7, 2015, with her campaign well underway and worried about the Sanders challenge, the Clinton camp debuted a key op-ed, “How I’d Rein in Wall Street,” in The New York Times. This followed two months of emails and internal debate within her campaign over whether supporting the return of Glass-Steagall was politically palatable for her, and whether not supporting it would antagonize Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). In the end, though Glass-Steagall was mentioned in passing in her op-ed, she chose not to endorse its return.

She explained her decision not to do so this way (and her advisers and media apostles have stuck with this explanation ever since):

Clinton’s entire characterization of how the 2007-08 banking crisis unfolded was — well — wrong.

“Some have urged the return of a Depression-era rule called Glass-Steagall, which separated traditional banking from investment banking. But many of the firms that contributed to the crash in 2008, like AIG and Lehman Brothers, weren’t traditional banks, so Glass-Steagall wouldn’t have limited their reckless behavior. Nor would restoring Glass-Steagall help contain other parts of the ‘shadow banking’ sector, including certain activities of hedge funds, investment banks and other non-bank institutions.”

Her entire characterization of how the 2007-08 banking crisis unfolded was — well — wrong. Here’s how traditional banks (like JPMorgan Chase) operated: They lent money to investment banks like Lehman Brothers so they could buy more financial waste products stuffed with subprime mortgages that these traditional banks were, in turn, trying to sell. They then backed up those toxic financial products through insurance companies like AIG, which came close to collapse when what it was insuring became too toxically overwhelming to afford. AIG then got a $182 billion government bailout that also had the effect of bailing out those traditional banks (including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, which became “traditional” during the crisis). In this way, the whole vicious cycle started with the traditional banks that hold your deposits and at the same time could produce and sell those waste products thanks to the repeal of Glass-Steagall. So yes, the loss of that act caused the crisis and, in its wake, every big traditional bank was fined for crisis-related crimes.

Hillary Clinton won’t push to bring back Glass-Steagall. Doing so would dismantle her husband’s legacy and that of the men he and she appointed to public office. Whatever cosmetic alterations may be in store, count on that act remaining an artifact of the past, since its resurrection would dismay the bankers who, over the past three decades, made the Clintons what they are.

No wonder many die-hard Sanders supporters remain disillusioned and skeptical — not to speak of the fact that their candidate featured dead last (39th) on a list of recommended vice presidential candidates in the Podesta emails. That’s unfortunately how much his agenda is likely to matter to her in the Oval Office.

Go Regulate Yourselves!

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Democratic president candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a town hall event in Salem, New Hampshire. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

What Clinton Gets Right, And Wrong, About Wall Street Reform

BY Isaiah J. Poole | December 9, 2015

Before he resigned with his nine-figure golden parachute, Wells Fargo CEO and Chairman John Stumpf addressed Congress over disclosures that 5,300 of his employees had created 2 million fake accounts, scamming $2.4 million from existing customers. The bank was fined $185 million for that (out of a total $10 billion in fines for a range of other crimes committed before and during the financial crisis).

In response, Clinton wrote a letter to Wells Fargo’s customers. In it, she didn’t actually mention Stumpf by name, as she has not mentioned any Wall Street CEO by name in the context of criminal activity. Instead, she simply spoke of “he.”  As she put it, “He owes all of you a clear explanation as to how this happened under his watch.” She added, “Executives should be held individually accountable when rampant illegal activity happens on their watch.”

She does have a plan to fine banks for being too big, but they’ve already been fined repeatedly for being crooked and it hasn’t made them any smaller or less threatening. As their top officials evidently view the matter, paying up for breaking the law is just another cost of doing business.

Clinton also wrote, “If any bank can’t be managed effectively, it should be broken up.” But the question is: Why doesn’t ongoing criminal activity that threatens the rest of us correlate with ineffective management — or put another way, when was the last time you saw a major bank broken up? And don’t hold your breath for that to happen in a new Clinton administration either.

In her public letter, she added, “I’ll appoint regulators who will stand with taxpayers and consumers, not with big banks and their friends in Congress.” On the other hand, at that same Goldman Sachs symposium, while in fundraising mode, she gave bankers a pass relative to regulators and commented: “Well, I represented all of you for eight years. I had great relations and worked so close together after 9/11 to rebuild downtown, and [I have] a lot of respect for the work you do and the people who do it.”

She has steadfastly worked to craft explanations for the financial crisis and the Great Recession that don’t endanger the banks as we presently know them. In addition, she has supported the idea of appointing insider regulators, insisting that “the people that know the industry better than anybody are the people who work in the industry.” (Let’s not forget that former Goldman Sachs CEO and Chairman Hank Paulson ran the Treasury Department while the crisis brewed.)

I said that she would never be an advocate for Glass-Steagall. And she hasn’t been. What was true then will be no less true once she’s in the White House.

Among the emails sent to John Podesta that were posted by WikiLeaks is an article I wrote for TomDispatch on the Clintons’ relationships with bankers. “She will not point fingers at her friends,” I said in that piece in May 2015. “She will not chastise the people who pay her hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop to speak or the ones who have long shared the social circles in which she and her husband move.” I also suggested that she wouldn’t call out any CEO by name. To this day she hasn’t. I said that she would never be an advocate for Glass-Steagall. And she hasn’t been. What was true then will be no less true once she’s in the White House and no longer has to make gestures toward the platform on which Sanders ran and so can once again more openly embrace the bankers’ way of conducting business.

There’s a reason Wall Street has a crush on her and its monarchs like Goldman Sachs CEO and Chairman Lloyd Blankfein pay her such stunning sums to offer anodyne remarks to their employees and others. Blankfein has been coy about an official Clinton endorsement simply because he doesn’t want to rock her campaign boat, but make no mistake, this Wall Street kingpin’s silence is tantamount to an endorsement.

To date, $10 trillion worth of assets sits on the books of the Big Six banks. Since 2008, these same banks have copped to more than $150 billion in fines for pre-crisis behavior that ranged on the spectrum of criminality from manipulating multiple public markets to outright fraud. Hillary Clinton has arguably taken money that would not have been so available if it weren’t for the ill-gotten gains those banks secured. In her usual measured way, albeit with some light admonishments, she has told them what they want to hear: that if they behave — something that in her dictionary of definitions involves little in the way of personalized pain or punishment — so will she.

So let’s recap Hillary CLinton’s America, past, present and future. It’s a land lacking in meaningful structural reform of the financial system, a place where the big banks have been, and will continue to be, coddled by the government. No CEO will be jailed, no matter how large the fines his bank is saddled with or how widespread the crimes it committed. Instead, he’s likely to be invited to the inaugural ball in January. Because its practices have not been adequately controlled or curtailed, the inherent risk that Wall Street poses for Main Street will only grow as bankers continue to use our money to make their bets. (The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act was supposed to help on this score, but has yet to make the big banks any smaller.)

And here’s an obvious corollary to all this: the next bank-instigated economic catastrophe will not be dealt with until it has once again crushed the financial stability of millions of Americans.

The banks have voted with their dollars on all of this in multiple ways. Clinton won’t do anything to upset that applecart. We should have no illusions about what her presidency would mean from a Wall Street vs. Main Street perspective. Certainly, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon doesn’t. He effectively endorsed her before a crowd of financial industry players, saying, “I hope the next president, she reaches across the aisle.”

For Wall Street, of course, that aisle is essentially illusory, since its players operate so easily and effectively on both sides of it. In Hillary Clinton’s America, Wall Street will still own Main Street.

The post Waking Up in Hillary Clinton’s America appeared first on


The Clintons’ ongoing donor mess: A new Clinton Foundation memo reveals more ethical problems



Bill Clinton

(Credit: AP)

Great news, everyone. It’s time for another fascinating journey to that vast, undefined space of political and ethical uncertainty known as The Clinton Gray Area.

Thursday’s trip was made possible by Wikileaks, which released a 2011 memo written by Bill Clinton aide Doug Band regarding his consulting firm’s aggressive maneuvers to direct corporate money to The Clinton Foundation, and to the former president himself. As the Washington Post reported, Band boasted in the memo that his firm, Teneo, successfully persuaded corporate entities both to increase their levels of giving to the charity, and to throw some business Bill Clinton’s way in the form of highly paid speaking gigs and lucrative sinecures.

So, once again, The Clinton Foundation’s fundraising practices have churned up some politically fraught news coverage and questions about the ethical standards put in place for the former president’s global philanthropy. The Clintons already got burned over their absurd decision to start accepting charitable donations from foreign governments while Hillary Clinton was preparing her presidential candidacy. In August, the foundation announced that, should Hillary win the presidency, it will cease accepting foreign and corporate donations and spin off the majority of its projects to other charities. That was a good first step towards preventing conflicts of interest, and it was also a recognition that the charity’s fundraising practices pose political and ethical problems for the Clintons.

Now comes this Doug Band memo, detailing the ways in which Bill Clinton’s personal financial endeavors were intertwined with his charity’s fundraising efforts. That memo was written shortly before Chelsea Clinton voiced complaints that Band and his associates were misusing her father’s name and influence to drum up business for themselves overseas.

Turns out Chelsea was right to be wary of Band. The memo was basically a how-to guide for leveraging a former president’s profile into financial gain with as little ethical oversight as possible. It ran down the various corporate entities that Teneo convinced to start donating (or increase their existing financial support) to The Clinton Foundation. Then it laid out the “For-profit activity of President Clinton (i.e., Bill Clinton, Inc.)” that Teneo has managed, detailing the many ways in which it overlapped with the fundraising activities it conducted on behalf of the non-profit Clinton Foundation.

The example that stood out for me was UBS. Per the memo, a Teneo representative introduced a top official from the financial services firm to Bill Clinton and then convinced that UBS official to donate $350,000 to a Clinton Foundation economic opportunity program. That same Teneo representative also floated the idea of Clinton giving a series of speeches for UBS, for which the former president would be paid $900,000.

Let’s set aside the absurdity of any human being receiving close to a million dollars for a handful of public speaking engagements. It does not look good when you have a charitable foundation’s fundraising consultants out there beating the bushes for business opportunities for the charity’s principal figure.

Band himself described this arrangement as “unorthodox” in the memo and seemed to acknowledge the possibility that their activities could bump up against tax laws governing charitable non-profits: “We appreciate the unorthodox nature of our roles, and the goal of seeking ways to ensure we are implementing best practices to protect the 501(c)3 status of the Foundation.”

Charity work is supposed to be kept strictly separate from the business and personal financial interests of the people directly involved with the charity. Donald Trump is in hot water with New York state regulators because he allegedly used charitable funds for personal gain: settling legal disputes, purchasing artwork, etc. Bill Clinton isn’t accused of doing anything like that, but documents like the Band memo make it impossible to completely separate The Clinton Foundation’s charitable activities from the Clintons’ personal finances.

That’s a perception problem, which the Clintons — as political figures and philanthropists — should have been going to every length to avoid. And it’s one of many other ethical gray areas that seem to persistently crop up regarding The Clinton Foundation.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

NYPD caught editing & deleting wikipedia pages about their brutality against #EricGarner, Sean Bell @ProjectCensored

cclph3EV_normal.jpg Abby Martin
NYPD caught editing & deleting wikipedia pages about their brutality against #EricGarner, Sean Bell @ProjectCensored


Hillary Admits In Leaked Email That Clinton Donors Are Funding ISIS

Hillary-ISIS-Clinton-DonorMedia follows Clinton’s lead on Russia, won’t report on Qatar’s influence.


Fact-checking doesn’t matter: Human biases control whether or not we’re going to believe politicians



Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton (Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake)

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

During the debates, fact-checkers like CNN and Politifact focus on evaluating the truthfulness of what each candidate said.

While it is important to get the facts straight, focusing on the truth of the candidates’ statements is not nearly enough to evaluate the actual impact of the debate on the audience. How candidates say things matters just as much as whether they stuck to the facts.

Savvy politicians can take advantage of what scholars call cognitive biases, which make us believe something is true because we feel it is true, regardless of the evidence. This phenomenon is also known as emotional reasoning.

We may think of ourselves as rational creatures who form our opinions based on logic. In reality, our emotions play a much larger role in influencing our beliefs than we think.

We make quick and intuitive decisions based on our autopilot system of thinking, also known as system 1. This is one of the two systems of thinking in our brains. It makes good decisions most of the time, according to Nobel Prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, but is more subject to bias than the other thinking system – known as the intentional system, or system 2. The intentional system is deliberate and reflective. It takes effort to use but it can catch and override the bias committed by system 1. Kahneman describes these as “fast” and “slow” thinking.

Politicians skilled in the art of public speaking can persuade us by playing to the more powerful autopilot system that guides our fast thinking and avoiding arguments based on evidence, reason and logic. Unless we pay close attention, mindfully slowing down and thinking more intentionally, we are highly likely to be influenced by these more emotional appeals.

Fast talking, poor thinking

NYU students react to the final debate, Oct. 19, 2016.
AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

Each candidate made a number of such appeals during the Oct. 19 debate.

Hillary Clinton stated that Donald Trump is Vladimir Putin’s “puppet.” This invoked a bias likely to cloud the minds of the audience – the halo effect. This bias emerges when we see something we like or dislike, and associate this emotional reaction with something else.

Clinton knows that many Americans do not like Putin. Plus, the image of being someone’s puppet is quite distasteful. Combining Trump with Putin and puppet is bound to create a negative emotional association.

A fact-checker would not be able to give a straight answer on whether Trump is Putin’s puppet. This depends on one’s interpretation, and Clinton could certainly defend her perspective. Yet we can recognize that her framing of this issue is designed to appeal to our fast thinking and create a certain impression that does not necessarily match the facts.

For his part, Trump used repetition to drive home his claims, invoking the so-called “illusory truth effect.” This bias causes our brains to perceive something as true just because we hear it repeated. In other words, just because something is repeated several times, we perceive it as more true.

You may have noticed the last two sentences in the previous paragraph had the same meaning and a similar structure. The second sentence didn’t provide any new information, but it did cause you to believe my claim more than you did when you read the first sentence. In fact, much of advertising is based on using the illusory truth effect to get us to buy more goods.

In the debate, Trump’s relentless repetition of the claim that NAFTA is the “worst deal ever signed” and cost Americans “millions of jobs” functions the same way. Despite the fact that experts disagree on the impact of NAFTA on the U.S. job market, Trump has successfully convinced many millions that NAFTA is terrible.

Trump makes similar statements about not supporting going into Iraq. Many of his supporters are staunchly convinced that he opposed the war, despite clear evidence that he was for it before he was against it. His repetition causes our autopilot system to perceive his statements intuitively as true. It takes effort to fight this perception by using our slow thinking.

Turning once again to Clinton, we see her utilizing the illusion of control. This bias occurs when we perceive ourselves as having more control over a situation than we actually do. For instance, Clinton attributed the decline in the U.S. national debt in the 1990s primarily to her husband’s policies. This exaggerates the actual impact that any president can have on the national debt.

Overly optimistic

Clinton also insisted – as did Trump – that her policies would add nothing to the national debt, despite independent reports by experts showing that Clinton’s economic reforms would likely add billions of dollars and Trump’s plan add trillions to the debt. Clinton’s statements on debt, along with Trump’s, showed both illusion of control and the desirability bias, which leads one to believe their idealized outcomes will come true.

Another claim often repeated by Trump ties in to his core message – America is much worse than it used to be. He conveys a rosy picture of an idealized American past, when everything was right with the world. It’s reflected in Trump’s motto: “Make America Great Again.”

This motto speaks to our tendency to view the past through rose-colored glasses, a bias known as rosy retrospection and also as declinism.

Many would argue, and I would agree, the world has actually grown better by a variety of different measurements. For instance, people are experiencing less violence and greater health, longevity and economic well-being. Despite this, the more Trump repeats that things used to be better, the easier it is for people to agree.

These are some among many cognitive biases that the candidates used to influence our perceptions and opinions. Because we are often not aware of how the candidates are appealing to our fast thinking, they are capable of swaying our views without our knowledge.

We should start fallacy-checking the debates and public statements, in addition to fact-checking them, to guard the safety of our democracy. In the meantime, it may help to actively think more slowly about the messages Trump and Clinton are conveying.

The Conversation

Gleb Tsipursky, Author, Speaker, Consultant, Coach, Scholar, and Social Entrepreneur. President of Intentional Insights, Assistant Professor in History of Behavioral Science,, The Ohio State University