Saturday, February 16, 2019

Nolte: Networks refuse to cover Senate's 'no Russia collusion' report



The same networks that spent 2,202 minutes of collective airtime to push the Russia Collusion Media-Hoax are refusing to cover the Senate Intelligence Committee bipartisan report, which found no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. The Media Research Center (MRC) did the research and found that between January 21, 2017, and February 10, 2019, "ABC's World News Tonight, the CBS Evening News, and the NBC Nightly News [spent] 2,202 minutes on the Russia investigation [, which] accounted for nearly 19 percent of all Trump-related reporting [, and now] none of those three shows have even mentioned the investigation since NBC's report came out on February 12." The same is true elsewhere on the left-wing networks.


Friday, February 15, 2019

The Missing Link in Rising Depression Rates?


We’re currently in the throes of winter. Or perhaps that’s second winter, or even third. With the multiple rounds of snow and cold, it’s easy to lose track of where we are.

For those of us in northern climes, it’s easy to get the winter blues. A lack of sunshine and yet another snow day can do that to a person. Fortunately, the sun will soon be showing its face for longer periods, thus dissipating the depression of the cold months.

But for many individuals, depression will not disappear with the snow and cold. Indeed, it’s no secret that depression is on the rise. According to a Columbia University study from late 2017, “depression increased significantly among persons in the U.S. from 2005 to 2015, from 6.6 percent to 7.3 percent.” Given that this is a “significant” increase, it’s even more alarming to hear the depression numbers for teens. In that same time frame, teen depression rates rose from 8.7 percent to 12.7 percent.

What’s driving this increase?

Many would guess social media and the comparison and fear of missing out that accompany it. Others would suggest high academic pressure and the explosion of extra-curricular activities.

But a new study gives another interesting explanation: depression may be related to a lack of religion.

According to the study, researchers examined individuals with a family history of depression. Brain imaging showed that when these same individuals placed a high emphasis on religion and spirituality, their brains were structured more like individuals who had a minimal history of family depression. In other words, religion appears to greatly minimize an individual’s tendency toward depression.

This is interesting, particularly as religion has been rapidly declining in recent years. As the ABC News graphic below demonstrates, those claiming “no religion” rose nine percent between 2003 and 2017.

Religious affiliation

As this is roughly the same time frame as the one in which teen depression skyrocketed, I dug deeper to find out which demographic was experiencing the greatest loss of religion. Perhaps not surprisingly, those in the 18-29 age range were the most likely to move into the “no religion” category.

Religious change

Is there a connection? Is it possible that this major decline in religion amongst young people was occurring even during the teen years and is in fact closely related to the rising teen depression rates from the same time frame? And if so, why?

In his book, Coming Apart, sociologist Charles Murray notes the overall decline in American religion and explains how this decline has a ripple effect, influencing participation drop-off in other civic organizations. It seems that without religion, individuals lose their outlet, their community, and their chance of giving back to others, not to mention their sense of purpose and hope.

Do we need to reconsider our ready dismissal of religion? When we push it aside, do we also push aside many other valuable benefits that it offers?



As Russia Collusion Narrative Collapses, The 'Resistance' Reaches New Depths Of Delusion


Authored by James Howard Kunstler via,

Worms Turning

And so now along comes Andy McCabe, former Number Two at the FBI, publicizing his new book, The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump, on this Sunday’s CBS 60-Minutes show, confirming what I said on this blog two years ago - that the Deep State would try to run over the Golden Golem of Greatness with the 25th Amendment.

The specter of Mr. Trump entrained by the nuclear “football” - the briefcase with launch codes for World War Three - gave US Intel communitarians such a case of the heebie-jeebies that they first sought desperately to impede his election by unlawful means and, failing in that, concocted a fog of Russian collusion conspiracy to cover up all that and much more nastiness emanating from the Hillary Clinton orbit.

It’s been the opinion here at CFN that Mr. McCabe and a long list of DOJ / FBI / and Intel employees would eventually be summoned to grand juries on charges ranging from lying to their Internal Affairs colleagues all the way to sedition. Those worms now seem to be turning. Both house and senate committees investigating the Russia narrative declared that they turned up no evidence for it.

And late this week, William Barr was confirmed as a new Attorney General, meaning the extreme case of bureaucratic constipation in that department may be resolving in a shitstorm of counter-revelations and prosecutions in what amounted to an attempted coup d’etat. A lot of the evidence for that is already public and overwhelming. It includes:

  • Using FBI counter-intelligence assets improperly and illegally.

  • Using fabricated “opposition research” provided by Mrs. Clinton to obtain warrants to spy on her election opponent, and failing to verify it as evidence (according to strict “Woods” procedures) submitted to FISA court judges.

  • Recruiting Britain’s MI6 to spy on US citizens as a work-around from US laws prohibiting US Intel from spying on Americans.

  • Setting up the notorious Trump Tower meeting to entrap Donald Trump Jr., using a Russian lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, in the employ of Fusion GPS, Mrs. Clintons oppo research contractor.

  • Orchestrating leaks of secret FBI proceedings to the news media to feed a Russia collusion hysteria.

  • Malicious prosecutions by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and egregious political conflicts-of-interest among Mr. Mueller’s team of prosecutors.

  • Coverup of the Uranium One scheme facilitated by Robert Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

  • A scheme to surreptitiously and illegally record conversations with Mr. Trump once he became president.

  • Conspiring to bury multiple inquires into illegal conduct of Mrs. Clinton, her employees and associates by failing to obtain evidence and allowing it to be destroyed.

  • Misconduct in office by former CIA chief John Brennan, former National Security Director James Clapper, former AG Loretta Lynch, and members of President Obama’s White House inner circle.

These matters and a lot more have deserved official attention that was bypassed during the peculiar DOJ regime of former AG Jeff Sessions - and now some light may be about to shine on them. The Trump “resistance” already seems demoralized by the collapse of the Russia collusion story, which had been the centerpiece of their impeachment hopes. Several reconstituted house committees under the new Democratic Party chairs, have pledged to keep mining that vein of fool’s gold to keep the hysteria alive long enough for the 2020 elections.

But what will happen in the meantime as their enablers are dragged into courts of law to answer for their roguery?

My guess is that it will drive the “resistance” to new depths of delusion and, eventually, derision, as its narrative cloak gets shredded in public testimony and their audacious mendacity is revealed. The heat from these future events may be so intense and disruptive that it will interfere with the 2020 election.


Thursday, February 14, 2019

If Everything Is Great, Why Are So Many IPOs Getting Pulled In The Last Moment


Every day, the question about organic demand for stocks in this market, or the lack thereof, rears its ugly head.

As we observed yesterday, while stocks have been blazing higher for the past 7 weeks, in a bizarre twist professional investors, including institutions, hedge funds and retail investors have been selling in droves.

So who was buying? The answer, as Bank of America revealed, is the companies themselves, as yet another spree of corporate buybacks has been unleashed in 2019...


... with the result that buybacks this year are already set to smash last year's records, as YTD repurchases are trending 78% higher compared to the same period in 2018 (as a reminder, total announced buybacks in 2018 hit a record $1 trillion).

The problem with this, however, is that while companies are buying back their own stock - largely to boost management's equity-linked executive comp - there is no appetite for others' stock.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the US IPO market, where in stark denial of the scorching equity rally, there has been a sudden and unexpected freeze.

Indeed, as Bloomberg notes, Amazon isn’t the only company scrapping its New York debut: Cibus Corp. today became the last company to postpone its Nasdaq listing on the morning it was supposed to start trading; it was the third firm on this week’s IPO calendar to inexplicably shelve plans at the last minute.

Here Bloomberg makes a laughable argument, stating that there is "mounting evidence of rocky market conditions."

Uhm, where exactly? In the 17% surge in the S&P in under 7 weeks? Or the record collapse in both the VIX and yield spreads.

No, dear Bloomberg editors, there are no "rocky market conditions." There are simply no buyers, because the only "buyers" in this market are either shorts forced to cover, or companies buying back their - and only their - stock.

Where Bloomberg is right, however, is in stating that after the postponement by Cibus, plus those by BankFlorida and Virgin Trains USA LLC earlier this week, "it’s more than fair to worry about market conditions for new issues."

For comparison, zero launched IPOs were postponed at this point in 2018. And those fears will only grow bigger when you look at IPOs that did manage to lift off: three of four "successful" public offerings are already trading below their offering price, while the only stock in the green (TCR2 Therapeutics) closed just 7 cents higher after its first day of trading today.

On average, the full 2019 IPO class has been a disaster, and is failing to keep pace with the market, unless of course one realizes that the "market" is merely companies lifting themselves - and only themselves- by the bootstraps in the form of buybacks.

As for organic demand for equity risk, well the sudden burst of pulled IPOs tells you all you need to know.

Will this change? For the answer, keep an eye on the primary market: Stealth BioTherapeutics will attempt to buck the trend during tomorrow’s scheduled debut. However, don't hope to use the IPO market as an equity barometer into next week: nNext week’s IPO calendar is blank thanks to today’s deadline for companies to price IPOs without having to provide updated - and audited - financial information for all of 2018. Additionally, presidents’ Day vacations would have likely made next week a quiet one, anyway.

The silver lining is that at least the government won’t be shutting down again, so the new issue market should finally have a chance to normalize as the SEC goes through its backlog and IPO candidates update their financials.

However, whether or not that means that "organic" buyers finally emerge, the kind that doesn't buy back their own shares, is a different matter entirely. So far, and for the past 7 weeks, that has not happened. Which is why until such time as real buyers finally emerge, instead of just buybacks and short squeezes, hold that IPO champagne on ice...


EXCLUSIVE… Cyber-Security Experts Release Damning Report: Why The DNC Was Not Hacked By the Russians



by Jim Hoft, The Gateway Pundit: Investigation by cyber-security and intelligence experts William Binney and Larry Johnso WHY THE DNC WAS NOT HACKED BY THE RUSSIANS The FBI, CIA and NSA claim that the DNC emails published by WIKILEAKS on July 26, 2016 were obtained via a Russian hack, but more than three years after […]

The post EXCLUSIVE… Cyber-Security Experts Release Damning Report: Why The DNC Was Not Hacked By the Russians appeared first on SGT Report.


BBC Producer's Syria Bombshell: Douma "Gas Attack" Footage "Was Staged"


Now approaching nearly a year after the April 7, 2018 alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria — which the White House used as a pretext to bomb Syrian government facilities and bases throughout Damascus — a BBC reporter who investigated the incident on the ground has issued public statements saying the "Assad sarin attack" on Douma was indeed "staged"

Riam Dalati is a well-known BBC Syria producer who has long reported from the region. He shocked his nearly 20,000 twitter followers on Wednesday, which includes other mainstream journalists from major outlets, by stating that after a "six month investigation" he has concluded, "I can prove without a doubt that the Douma Hospital scene was staged."

​​​​​​One of many widely circulated images of the Douma hospital scene from April 2018. The Times (UK) published the image with the following headline: Syria attack: ‘We found bodies on the stairs. They didn’t see the gas in time’

The "hospital scene" is a reference to part of the horrid footage played over and over again on international networks showing children in a Douma hospital being hosed off and treated by doctors and White Helmets personnel as victims of the alleged chemical attack.

The BBC's Dalati stated on Wednesday: "After almost 6 months of investigations, I can prove without a doubt that the Douma Hospital scene was staged. No fatalities occurred in the hospital." He noted he had interviewed a number of White Helmets and opposition activists while reaching that conclusion. 

He continued in a follow-up tweet

Russia and at least one NATO country knew about what happened in the hospital. Documents were sent. However, no one knew what really happened at the flats apart from activists manipulating the scene there. This is why Russia focused solely on discrediting the hospital scene.

Dalati's mention of activists at the flats "manipulating the scene there" is a reference to White Helmets and rebel activist produced footage purporting to show the deadly aftermath of a chemical attack inside a second scene  a bombed out apartment showing dozens of dead bodies. 

The BBC's Riam Dalati made his verified account private in the hours after the tweets. 

Tragic and gruesome images of what appeared the "gassed" corpses of young children and women strewn about an apartment building, were recycled endlessly in mainstream media at the time, which the Trump administration referenced in its decision to strike Damascus with some 100 Tomahawk cruise missiles

Dalati continued

Truth is James Harkin got the basics right in terms of Douma's "propaganda" value. The ATTACK DID HAPPEN, Sarin wasn't used, but we'll have to wait for OPCW to prove Chlorine or otherwise. However, everything else around the attack was manufactured for maximum effect.

The BBC producer added the following details as part of the thread:

I can tell you that Jaysh al-Islam ruled Douma with an iron fist. They coopted activists, doctors and humanitarians with fear and intimidation. In fact, one of the 3 or 4 people filming the scene was Dr. Abu Bakr Hanan, a "brute and shifty" doctor affiliated with Jaysh Al-Islam. The narrative was that "there weren't enough drs" but here is one filming and not taking part of the rescue efforts. Will keep the rest for later. 

A few hours after making the statements Dalati switched his verified Twitter account to "private", likely after the Russian Embassy in the UK seized upon and began promoting the admission. A number of articles quickly appeared in Russian media as well

.@BBC’s Syria producer @Dalatrm admits “Assad sarine attack in #Douma was staged”. Remarkable that British MSM chose to ignore it. No breaking news, no articles, nothing.

— Russian Embassy, UK (@RussianEmbassy) February 14, 2019

The Russian Foreign Ministry weighed in on Thursday after the BBC producer's admission, especially since it's been Moscow's position the whole time that the events surrounding the Douma attack were staged.

Russia's TASS news agency cited ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, who slammed the "theater of the absurd" connected to the April 7 events:

"The culmination of this theater of absurd may be a statement by a BBC producer who confirmed based on his own research that the footage [in Syria's Douma] had been staged with direct participation of the White Helmets," Zakharova said, noting that Russia wants to listen to the company’s position because it actively covered the events from the perspective of supporting the steps of the so-called US-led coalition in Syria.

Russia is now demanding that the BBC produce the results of its investigation for Moscow to review and evaluate. 

The BBC's Dalati made the statements in response to a lengthy investigative report by James Harkin writing for The Intercept. Harkin had examined the scenes and physical environs of the alleged Douma attack and interviewed eyewitnesses on site. His report paints a complex picture of propaganda and deeply compromised rebel sources such as Saudi-backed Jaish al Islam, which had control of Douma amidst a Syrian government onslaught to retake the town. 

The "hospital scene" footage, now called "staged" by a BBC producer, circulated widely among media outlets at the time: 

Harkin made mention of plausible early reports that the Douma victims had actually died of asphyxiation while hiding in an enclosed space or bunker due to repeat waves of conventional ordinance fired by the Syrian Army:

When it came to Douma, the Russians weren’t the only ones who were skeptical, at least initially, that chemical weapons had been used. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based outfit that leans toward the opposition but whose reporting network inside the country is usually seen as most authoritative by the international media, noted the day after the attack that people had died in Douma through suffocation, but couldn’t say whether chemical weapons had been used.

The Intercept report also highlighted the fact that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons investigation flatly contradicted Washington's claims that sarin had been used. Instead, "samples collected at both locations turned up 'various chlorinated organic chemicals' along with 'the residues of explosive' — not quite the same thing as saying that chlorine had been used as a chemical weapon..." according to the report.

Russia held a press conference at The Hague in late April featuring an 11-year-old boy named Hassan Diab, one of those filmed at the hospital in the aftermath of the attack. He and his father testified no chemical attack took place. Image source: Getty

Harkin further underscored that the OPCW's on-site findings came as "something of a surprise" to analysts who had long parroted the early US and mainstream media claims of a confirmed chemical attack:

At least some of that caution appears to have been warranted. Three months after the attack, the OPCW released its interim report into what happened in Douma. The report found no evidence of organophosphorus nerve agents like sarin either at the site or in samples from the casualties — something of a surprise, because the suspected use of sarin had been one of the justifications for American airstrikes back in April, and alleged Syrian chemical weapons facilities their primary target. But the investigators did find something else.

Interestingly, the BBC's Dalati had actually first hinted he knew that elements surrounding the Douma attack had been staged a mere days after the incident. 

In a now deleted April 11, 2018 tweet, he had stated: "Sick and tired of activists and rebels using corpses of dead children to stage emotive scenes for Western consumption. Then they wonder why some serious journos are questioning part of the narrative." 

Thus far mainstream networks have not picked up on this latest bombshell admission from the BBC producer, but it will be interesting to see if there's any formal response from the BBC based on the Russian foreign ministry's request. 


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Anatomy Of A Moral Panic


Authored by Stephen Davies via The American Institute for Economic Research,

Among liberals of all kinds, both classical and revisionist, it is the discipline of economics that holds pride of place today. Insights from that discipline are at the heart of commentary and analysis.

However, there are other branches of the tree of scholarship that can also yield insights and help us to understand threats to individual liberty, and how to resist them. Sociology provides several of these. One of the most powerful, and greatly needed in these times, is the notion of a moral panic.

Widespread Fear

The concept of a moral panic was first explicitly formulated and given that name in a book by the British sociologist Stanley Cohen, published in 1972 under the title Folk Devils and Moral Panics: The Creation of the Mods and Rockers. The book used one particular panic (over the two supposed youth cultures of the title) to illustrate a more general thesis. This was that societies periodically suffer from episodes of panic and anxiety of a particular kind.

In these episodes, there is a widespread fear and anxiety over a perceived threat to society and order. The fear and anxiety are excessive and unreasonable (hence “panic”). This is because either the threat or problem is completely imaginary or its extent and severity is seriously exaggerated even when there is a real phenomenon. The threat is often associated with a specific deviant group or identity. These are the “folk devils” of Cohen’s title.

Again the group may be a real, actually existing one that is demonized and caricatured, or it may again be completely imaginary, with no actual existence. Confusingly though, in some cases an initially imaginary group or subculture becomes real, as people start to adopt the behavior and appearance of the invented and imaginary deviant group.The final crucial element is that the supposed threat or problem and the group supposedly responsible for it are discussed and described using the language of morality; the group is seen as evil or malevolent or as reflecting a moral failure of some kind (hence “moral”).

So there is a recurring social phenomenon in which many people are gripped by the fear that social order is threatened by some behavior or practice that is both harmful and immoral or motivated by ill will. This state of panic exists despite there not being any real foundation for it.

How though does this panic arise?

Moral panics almost all have the same features and trajectory. They start with a particular episode or event, often real but sometimes completely imaginary (the supposed event is either invented or involves a misinterpretation of something quite different). The initial event receives very wide coverage and is widely discussed.

At this point, the crucial step is taken that creates a panic. Specific people (moral entrepreneurs, as they are called) claim that the reported event is actually only one instance of something much more widespread, and that there is actually an “epidemic” or “plague” of this kind of thing (medical language and metaphors are often used at this stage) so that it is increasing in frequency to a crisis level. This starts to cause anxiety and alarm and then leads to a spate of reports, rumors, and accusations. These are now reported, and so the impression gains ground that there is indeed a serious and unacknowledged problem or crisis. At this point the fully fledged panic starts.

This leads inevitably to demands for action, that “something must be done.” Institutions and powerful agencies now come under intense pressure to respond, often on the basis of “Something must be done, this is something, and therefore we should do it.” In addition, people in these agencies often support or give credence to the panic for self-interested reasons, not least because it leads to an increase in their own power and status or budget.

This means that moral panics have both an ideological source (the moral entrepreneurs who typically have sincere beliefs or an ideological agenda) and a pragmatic one (they are sustained and strengthened by people who have pragmatic or self-interested interests because they stand to gain from them). One aspect of many panics is the claim that the harm is the result of a conspiracy: this is used to dismiss rejection of the panic on the grounds that anyone who does not support the calls for action is an actual or unwitting agent of the conspiracy.

This may sound like something that is of interest only to social psychologists or sociologists who are interested in manias and panics. However, moral panics can have dramatic results that are concerning for anyone interested in the rule of law, personal liberty, and good government. This is because of the impact they can have on public policy and in particular the workings of the criminal-justice system.

Politicians and regulators often react to moral panics by introducing legislation and regulations that are at best unnecessary and wasteful, at worst seriously harmful. Sometimes, when the subject of the panic is real but exaggerated you have the problem of a sledgehammer being used to crack a nut, an excessive and overbearing response. When the panic concerns something that does not actually exist, you can have laws that severely restrict people’s freedom or impose serious costs on them for no good reason whatsoever.

However, the really bad results often happen when moral panics affect the criminal-justice system. The combination often leads to witch hunts with widespread and severe miscarriages of justice. If the panic distorts not only the enforcement of the law (bad enough) but also legislation, then it can lead to bad practice becoming embedded in the law and undermine the entire practice and principle of the rule of law.

One minor example of this happened in the United Kingdom in 1991 with the Dangerous Dogs Act. There was a panic with the usual features over attacks on children by dogs: the number of such incidents was exaggerated, it was claimed the frequency was increasing when it was not, and the ownership of “dangerous dogs” was associated with a supposed deviant working class subculture. In the act, the ownership of four specific breeds was banned (but without those breeds being clearly defined), several new criminal offenses were created, and a series of prosecutions happened — all without reducing the number of attacks by dogs in the slightest.

However, there are many much-more-serious and large-scale examples. One was the panic over “satanic ritual abuse” that swept through the English-speaking world in the 1980s. Here the idea was that there was an underground conspiracy of devil worshipers who regularly engaged in the sexual and physical abuse of children as part of satanic rituals. This began with an accusation at the McMartin preschool in Los Angeles made by a parent who it was later revealed was a paranoid schizophrenic. This led to a trial that is still the longest and most expensive in the whole of American history and to similar panics and accusations across the United States and the English-speaking world.

Dozens of people had their lives ruined by false accusations, had their children taken from them by force, and in several cases were sent to prison for very long terms for things they had not done, on nonexistent evidence and with major breaches of criminal-law procedure. In this case, prosecutors and law enforcement officials gained status and power while the moral entrepreneurs were an unholy alliance of religious fundamentalists (with a strong belief in an active physical devil) and radical feminists (who believed in the widespread sexual abuse of young children by men).

On a much-larger scale were the literal witch hunts of the early-modern period, which led to thousands being tortured and executed — Salem being just one, late example. The War on Drugs with all of its costs was partly brought about by a series of panics, in the 1880s, 1930s, 1940s, and 1970s. The recurring theme was that a racial minority were pushing drugs onto respectable white girls to turn them into degenerates who wanted to have sex with the minority in question (Chinese or Mexicans or African Americans). Sometimes large-scale panics of this kind are deliberately started by political actors for highly pragmatic and cynical reasons.

There are plenty of examples of moral panics today. These originate from both sides of the political spectrum or neither. One is the idea that there are online communities that deliberately lead young people into committing suicide (the Blue Whale Challenge). This has been a major panic in Russia since 2016. There are recurring panics about food and diet and repeated ones about sexual behavior and sexual abuse.

Pornography and the impact of video games and various kinds of online material are other examples. Another is the idea that there is a huge campus conspiracy against free speech. This is an example of a real problem that is seriously exaggerated.

One of the damaging results of panics like these is that cases where there actually is a real problem or even crisis are ignored as people become cynical and regard all claims of problems as simple scaremongering. Where a moral panic concerns a real problem that is exaggerated, the long-term consequence may be that the problem is discounted or not addressed effectively.

For example, there is solid evidence that there has been a sudden and dramatic decline in the mental health of teenagers and young adults in the last 10 to 12 years; the danger is that this will be dismissed as yet another panic. The problem of attitudes toward speech and discussion on campuses is a real one — particularly on elite campuses — but exaggerating its extent and severity will stop people thinking about what is actually happening and devising effective ways of dealing with it.

So how do you recognize a moral panic, and how can you tell if there really is an actual problem or even crisis? Fortunately, the sociologists have also got advice on that. There are several features of reporting or discussion that should lead you to suspect you are dealing with a moral panic.

These include but are not limited to the following: reporting rumor, anecdote, hearsay, and accusation as though they are facts; making quantitative claims without specific figures to support them or with figures that turn out to be false or misleading; media reporting that what other outlets are saying is the entire story; a particular kind of rhetoric and use of certain tropes (such as medical metaphors or apocalyptic imagery and language); having the same incident or story recycled; claims of the existence of a conspiracy without any actual people being named; moralistic language aimed at an unpopular or identifiable minority group. Conversely, if you find calm, serious argument and figures that can actually be supported, then you should take the argument seriously even if it turns out to be wrong.

The notion of a moral panic is a powerful one that explains much of what goes on in popular mass media, public discussion, and, all too often, actual policy. It is a valuable intellectual tool to use to protect yourself against unwarranted and dangerous anxiety and being taken advantage of by deluded or unscrupulous hucksters.


Zbigniew Brzezinski as I Knew Him, by Paul Craig Roberts

“When you hear a source called a ‘Russian agent,’ an ‘anti-semite,’ or a ‘conspiracy theorist,’ you had better listen to them. These are those in the know who accept arrow slings in order to tell you the truth.” I decided to repost this column for several reasons. One is that the misrepresentation of Brzezinski as...


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

YouTube Will Determine What "Conspiracy" Is And Stop Recommending Such Videos


Authored by Mike Krieger via Libnerty Blitzkrieg blog,

While the evolution of Google’s YouTube from a free expression platform into something entirely different has been underway for a while, it just took another step in a very short-sighted and restrictive direction. NBC News reports:

YouTube has announced that it will no longer recommend videos that “come close to” violating its community guidelines, such as conspiracy or medically inaccurate videos…Chaslot said that YouTube’s fix to its recommendations AI will have to include getting people to videos with truthful information and overhauling the current system it uses to recommend videos.

There’s a lot to unpack here so let’s get started. First, it appears YouTube has announced the creation of a new bucket when it comes to content uploaded to the site. It’s no longer just videos consistent with company guidelines and those that aren’t, but there’s now a category for “conspiracy or medically inaccurate videos.” This is a massive responsibility, which neither YouTube or anyone else seems fit to be judge and jury. In other words, YouTube is saying it’s comfortable deciding what is “conspiracy” and what isn’t. Which brings up a really important question.

So no videos of government officials lying the public into wars, or is that the Silicon Valley approved type conspiracy?

— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) February 11, 2019

“Conspiracy” and covering up conspiracies is a fundamental part of the human experience, and always has been. It demonstrates extreme hubris for a tech giant to claim it can differentiate between a legitimate conspiracy to explore, versus an illegitimate one. One person’s righteous investigation is another’s conspiracy theory, with Russiagate serving as an obvious contemporary example.

Going back to the early 21st century, we witnessed a major conspiracy to start a war in Iraq based on lies; lies which were endlessly repeated uncritically throughout the mass media. Even worse, General Wesley Clark described an even larger conspiracy which consisted of starting multiple additional wars in the aftermath of 9/11. This conspiracy is ongoing and has continued to move forward in the years since, through both Republican and Democratic administrations.

It’s pretty clear what will end up happening as a result of this tweaking to YouTube’s recommended videos AI. The “conspiracies” of your average person will be pushed aside and demoted, while government and mass media lies will remain unaffected. Google will assume mass media and government are honest, so government and billionaire approved propaganda will be increasingly promoted, while the perspectives of regular citizens will be pushed further to the margins.YouTube is simply not a platform anymore, but rather a self-proclaimed arbiter of what is ridiculous conspiracy and what is truth.

The most dangerous and consequential liars on planet earth are those in government, yet I guarantee YouTube will gladly recommend such liars and their lies.

— Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) February 11, 2019

While YouTube says videos it deems conspiracy will still be available via search, it’s not a stretch to imagine this is just the first step and before you know it certain categories will be banned from the site entirely. Either way, I think there’s a silver lining to all of this.

As I outlined in a recent post, U.S. tech giants, particularly Facebook, Google and Amazon, aren’t simply private companies. They appear more akin to quasi-government entities that increasingly view themselves as instrumental gatekeepers for a discredited status quo.Moreover, their primary business models consist of mass surveillance and violating our privacy.

Ultimately, I think the increasingly nefarious and desperate behavior of these tech giants will lead to their demise. More and more of us have looked under the hood and seen the seedy and privacy-destroying nature of these entities. We’ve also seen what it’s like to have genuine free expression on the internet and we don’t want to turn the web into another cable news where Facebook, Google and Amazon become the new CBS, NBC and ABC. If we do, then the entire promise of the internet will have turned out to be a giant waste.

But I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think most of us have had a taste of what’s possible, and agree that free speech and expression on the internet, the good, the bad and the ugly, is better than an internet censored by tech companies and their billionaire executives, who will always be biased toward the status quo point of view. It’s still not clear which platforms will emerge to replace the tech giants, but it seems fairly clear to me the best days are over for these companies, and it cannot come a moment too soon.

*  *  *

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Pesticide Levels in Families Dropped by 60% After One-Week Organic Diet: Study

(CD) — A new peer-reviewed study shows that eating a completely organic diet—even for just one week—can dramatically reduce the presence of pesticide levels in people, a finding that was characterized as “groundbreaking” by critics of an industrial food system that relies heavily on synthetic toxins and chemicals to grow crops and raise livestock. Published in the Environmental Research, the study—titled Organic […]


Today Is The 20 Year Anniversary Of The Bank Of Japan Cutting Rates To 0%


In the annals of modern central (bank) planning, today is a tragic day, or as DB's Jim Reid puts it, "it is a bit of a landmark anniversary of sorts for financial markets" - it’s the 20-year anniversary of the Bank of Japan cutting rates to 0% and the start of two decades of extreme monetary policy which neither Japan, nor any other country, has ever been able to escape from.

As Reid notes, this is a "sobering template for Europe to worry about" and adds that Japan also kick started what became a more mainstream form of monetary policy post the GFC around the world.

For economic historians Japan is really a fascinating case. If you took a snapshot of the nation’s finances and demographics today with no previous knowledge of the country’s journey over the last 30 years since its asset bubble burst, you would wonder how the country isn’t in a constant crisis. Debt to GDP is the highest in the developed world at 236%. The BoJ holds around 43% of all JGBs.

Core prices in Japan are also virtually identical to where they were 20 years ago and 10yr JGBs have fallen from 2.21% to -0.03% over this period. Nevertheless,

Japan is an example of how long a crisis can be averted for under extreme measures. It also highlights how perceptions can be turned on their heads.

Yesterday we found this quote from The Economist 20-years ago: "Without fiscal discipline, say Bank of Japan officials, the government risks losing control of public spending, inviting hyperinflation in the world's second-biggest economy."

Reid's conclusion: "an unhappy anniversary today in many respects but it’s also noticeable that after 20 years of high fiscal spending the Japanese don’t have populism. Maybe that’s a message for Europe."


"A Coup Is A Coup" - Why Venezuela's Guaido Doesn't Have A Constitutional Leg To Stand On


Authored by Roger Harris via,

Donald Trump imagines Juan Guaidó is the rightful president of Venezuela. Mr. Guaidó, a man of impeccable illegitimacy, was exposed by Cohen and Blumenthal as “a product of a decade-long project overseen by Washington’s elite regime change trainers.”

Argentinian sociologist Marco Teruggi described Guaidó in the same article as “a character that has been created for this circumstance” of regime change.

Here, his constitutional credentials to be interim president of Venezuela are deconstructed.

Educated at George Washington University in DC, Guaidó was virtually unknown in his native Venezuela before being thrust on to the world stage in a rapidly unfolding series of events. In a poll conducted a little more than a week before Guaidó appointed himself president of the country, 81% of Venezuelans had never even heard of the 35-year-old.

To make a short story shorter, US Vice President Pence phoned Guaidó on the evening of January 22rd and presumably asked him how’d he like to be made president of Venezuela. The next day, Guaidó announced that he considered himself president of Venezuela, followed within minutes by US President Trump confirming the self-appointment.

A few weeks before on January 5, Guaidó had been installed as president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, their unicameral legislature. He had been elected to the assembly from a coastal district with 26% of the vote. It was his party’s turn for the presidency of the body, and he was hand-picked for the position. Guaidó, even within his own party, was not in the top leadership.

Guaidó’s party, Popular Will, is a far-right marginal group whose most enthusiastic boosters are John Bolton, Elliott Abrams, and Mike Pompeo. Popular Will had adopted a strategy of regime change by extra-parliamentary means rather than engage in the democratic electoral process and had not participated in recent Venezuelan elections.

Although anointed by Trump and company, Guaidó’s Popular Will Party is not representative of the “Venezuelan opposition,” which is a fractious bunch whose hatred of Maduro is only matched by their abhorrence of each other. Leading opposition candidate Henri Falcón, who ran against Maduro in 2018 on a neoliberal austerity platform, had been vehemently opposed by Popular Will who demanded that he join their US-backed boycott of the election.

The Venezuelan news outlet, Ultimas Noticias, reported that prominent opposition politician Henrique Capriles, who had run against Maduro in 2013, “affirmed during an interview that the majority of opposition parties did not agree with the self-swearing in of Juan Guaidó as interim president of the country.”  Claudio Fermin, president of the party Solutions for Venezuela, wrote “we believe in the vote, in dialogue, we believe in coming to an understanding, we believe Venezuelans need to part ways with the extremist sectors that only offer hatred, revenge, lynching.” Key opposition governor of the State of Táchira, Laidy Gómez, has rejected Guaidó’s support of intervention by the US, warning that it “would generate death of Venezuelans.”

The Guaidó/Trump cabal does not reflect the democratic consensus in Venezuela, where polls consistently show super majorities oppose outside intervention. Popular opinion in Venezuela supports negotiations between the government and the opposition as proposed by Mexico, Uruguay, and the Vatican. The Maduro administration has embraced the negotiations as a peaceful solution to the crisis facing Venezuela.

The US government rejects a negotiated solution, in the words of Vice President Pence: “This is no time for dialogue; this is time for action.” This intransigent position is faithfully echoed by Guaidó. So while most Venezuelans want peace, the self-appointed president, backed by the full force of US military power, wrote in a New York Times op-ed that it was possible to “end the Maduro regime with a minimum of bloodshed.”

The Guaidó/Trump cabal’s fig leaf for legitimacy is based on the bogus argument that Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution gives the National Assembly the power to declare a national president’s “abandonment” of the office. In which case, the president of the National Assembly can serve as an interim national president, until presidential elections are held. The inconvenient truth is that Maduro has shown no inclination to abandon his post, and the constitution says no such thing.

In fact, the grounds for replacing a president are very clearly laid out in the first paragraph of Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution and do not include fraudulent or illegitimate election, which is what the cabal has been claiming. In the convoluted logic of the US government and its epigones, if the people elect someone the cabal doesn’t like, the election is by definition fraudulent and the democratically elected winner is ipso facto a dictator.

The function of adjudicating the validity of an election, as in any country, is to be dealt with through court challenges, not by turning to Donald Trump for his approval.

And certainly not by anointing an individual from a party that could have run in the 2018 election but decided to boycott.

The Supreme Tribunal of Justice (TSJ), which is the separate supreme court branch of the Venezuelan government has certified Maduro’s reelection, as have independent international observers. Further, no appeal was filed by any of the boycotting parties, while all participating parties – including opposition ones – signed off on the validity of the election after the polls closed.

The far-right opposition has boycotted the high court as well as the electoral process. They contest the legitimacy of the TSJ because some members of the TSJ were appointed by a lame duck National Assembly favorable to Maduro, after a new National Assembly with a majority in opposition had been elected in December 2015 but not yet seated.

Even if President Maduro were somehow deemed to have experienced what is termed a falta absoluta (i.e., some sort of void in the presidency due to death, insanity, absence, etc.), the National Assembly president is only authorized to take over if the falta absoluta occurs before the lawful president “takes possession.” However, Maduro was already “in possession” before the January 10, 2019 presidential inauguration and even before the May 10, 2018 presidential election. Maduro had won the presidency in the 2013 election and ran and won reelection last May.

If the falta absoluta is deemed to have occurred during the first four years of the presidential term, the vice president takes over. Then the constitution decrees that a snap election for the presidency must be held within 30 days. This is what happened when President Hugo Chávez died while in office in 2013. Then Vice President Nicolás Maduro succeeded to the presidency, called for new elections, and was elected by the people of Venezuela.

If it is deemed that the falta absoluta occurred during the last two years of the six-year presidential term, the vice president serves until the end of the term, according to the Venezuelan constitution. And if the time of the alleged falta absoluta is unclear – when Maduro presided over “illegitimate” elections in 2018, as is claimed by the far-right opposition – it is up to the TSJ to decide, not the head of the National Assembly or even such an august authority as US Senator Marco Rubio. Or the craven US press (too numerous to cite), which without bothering to read the plain language of the Bolivarian Constitution, repeatedly refers to Guaidó as the “constitutionally authorized” or “legitimate” president.

As Alfred de Zayas, United Nations independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, tweeted: “Article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution is inapplicable and cannot be twisted into legitimizing Guaidó’s self-proclamation as interim President. A coup is a coup.”


Insect Apocalypse: The Global Food Chain Is Experiencing A Major Extinction Event And Scientists Don’t Know Why


Scientists are telling us that we have entered “the sixth major extinction” in the history of our planet. A brand new survey of 73 scientific reports that was just released has come to the conclusion that the total number of insects on the globe is falling by 2.5 percent per year. If we stay on this current pace, the survey warns that there might not be “any insects at all” by the year 2119. And since insects are absolutely critical to the worldwide food chain, that has extremely ominous implications for all of us.

I write a lot about the inevitable collapse of our economic systems, but it could definitely be argued that our environment is already in a very advanced stage of “collapse”. According to this new research, insects are going extinct at a rate that is “eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles”…

The world’s insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a “catastrophic collapse of nature’s ecosystems”, according to the first global scientific review.

More than 40% of insect species are declining and a third are endangered, the analysis found. The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.

Perhaps the entire world will come together and will stop destroying the planet and we can reverse this trend before it is too late.

Unfortunately, you and I both know that this is extremely unlikely to happen.

And if it doesn’t happen, the researchers that conducted this scientific review insist that the consequences will be “catastrophic to say the least”

The researchers set out their conclusions in unusually forceful terms for a peer-reviewed scientific paper: “The [insect] trends confirm that the sixth major extinction event is profoundly impacting [on] life forms on our planet.

“Unless we change our ways of producing food, insects as a whole will go down the path of extinction in a few decades,” they write. “The repercussions this will have for the planet’s ecosystems are catastrophic to say the least.

The clock is ticking, and time is running out for our planet.

Assuming that we could somehow keep the global insect decline from accelerating even more, we probably only have about 100 years before they are all gone

Chillingly, the total mass of insects is falling by 2.5 percent annually, the review’s authors said. If the decline continues at this rate, insects could be wiped off the face of the Earth within a century.

“It is very rapid. In 10 years you will have a quarter less, in 50 years only half left and in 100 years you will have none,” study co-author Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, an environmental biologist at the University of Sydney, Australia, told The Guardian.

So what would a planet without insects look like?

Well, according to Francisco Sánchez-Bayo of the University of Sydney, millions upon millions of birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish would “starve to death”

One of the biggest impacts of insect loss is on the many birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish that eat insects. “If this food source is taken away, all these animals starve to death,” he said. Such cascading effects have already been seen in Puerto Rico, where a recent study revealed a 98% fall in ground insects over 35 years.

And without bees and other pollinators, humans would be in a world of hurt. You may have heard that Albert Einstein once said the following…

“If the bee disappeared off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years left to live.”

With that statement in mind, I would like for you to consider what this new study discovered about the decline of bee colonies in the United States

The study suggested that bee species in the UK, Denmark, and North America have taken major hits — bumblebees, honey bees, and wild bee species are all declining. In the US, the number of honey-bee colonies dropped from 6 million in 1947 to 2.5 million just six decades later.

We aren’t there yet, but a food chain cataclysm is literally right around the corner.

So why is all of this happening?

Modern methods of agriculture, urbanization and pesticides are some of the factors being blamed, but the truth is that scientists don’t actually know exactly why insects are dying off so quickly.

And none of those factors directly impact our oceans, and yet scientists have discovered that phytoplankton is declining at an exponential rate. As a result of that decline, seabird populations have been plummeting at a pace that is extremely alarming. The following comes from Chris Martenson

Fewer phytoplankton means less thiamine being produced. That means less thiamine is available to pass up the food chain. Next thing you know, there’s a 70% decline in seabird populations.

This is something I’ve noticed directly and commented on during my annual pilgrimages to the northern Maine coast over the past 30 years, where seagulls used to be extremely common and are now practically gone. Seagulls!

Next thing you know, some other major food chain will be wiped out and we’ll get oceans full of jellyfish instead of actual fish.

A global collapse is not something that is coming in the distant future.

A global collapse is here, and it is happening right in front of our eyes.

Our environment is literally dying all around us, and without our environment we cannot survive.

If humanity cannot solve this crisis, and we all know that they cannot, then an extremely apocalyptic future awaits for all of us.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

The post Insect Apocalypse: The Global Food Chain Is Experiencing A Major Extinction Event And Scientists Don’t Know Why appeared first on The Most Important News.


Monday, February 11, 2019

Making Globalism Great Again - Did Trump Fold To The Deep State?


Authored by CJ Hopkins via The Unz Review,

Maybe Donald Trump isn’t as stupid as I thought. I’d hate to have to admit that publicly, but it does kind of seem like he has put one over on the liberal corporate media this time. Scanning the recent Trump-related news, I couldn’t help but notice a significant decline in the number of references to Weimar, Germany, Adolf Hitler, and “the brink of fascism” that America has supposedly been teetering on since Hillary Clinton lost the election. I googled around pretty well, I think, but I couldn’t find a single editorial warning that Trump is about to summarily cancel the U.S. Constitution, dissolve Congress, and proclaim himself Führer. Nor did I see any mention of Auschwitz, or any other Nazi stuff … which is weird, considering that the Hitler hysteria has been a standard feature of the official narrative we’ve been subjected to for the last two years.

So how did Trump finally get the liberal corporate media to stop calling him a fascist? He did that by acting like a fascist (i.e., like a “normal” president). Which is to say he did the bidding of the deep state goons and corporate mandarins that manage the global capitalist empire … the smiley, happy, democracy-spreading, post-fascist version of fascism we live under.

I’m referring, of course, to Venezuela, which is one of a handful of uncooperative countries that are not playing ball with global capitalism and which haven’t been “regime changed” yet. Trump green-lit the attempted coup purportedly being staged by the Venezuelan “opposition,” but which is obviously a U.S. operation, or, rather, a global capitalist operation. As soon as he did, the corporate media immediately suspended calling him a fascist, and comparing him to Adolf Hitler, and so on, and started spewing out blatant propaganda supporting his effort to overthrow the elected government of a sovereign country.

Overthrowing the governments of sovereign countries, destroying their economies, stealing their gold, and otherwise bringing them into the fold of the global capitalist “international community” is not exactly what most folks thought Trump meant by “Make America Great Again.” Many Americans have never been to Venezuela, or Syria, or anywhere else the global capitalist empire has been ruthlessly restructuring since shortly after the end of the Cold War. They have not been lying awake at night worrying about Venezuelan democracy, or Syrian democracy, or Ukrainian democracy.

This is not because Americans are a heartless people, or an ignorant or a selfish people. It is because, well, it is because they are Americans (or, rather, because they believe they are Americans), and thus are more interested in the problems of Americans than in the problems of people in faraway lands that have nothing whatsoever to do with America. Notwithstanding what the corporate media will tell you, Americans elected Donald Trump, a preposterous, self-aggrandizing ass clown, not because they were latent Nazis, or because they were brainwashed by Russian hackers, but, primarily, because they wanted to believe that he sincerely cared about America, and was going to try to “make it great again” (whatever that was supposed to mean, exactly).

Unfortunately, there is no America. There is nothing to make great again. “America” is a fiction, a fantasy, a nostalgia that hucksters like Donald Trump (and other, marginally less buffoonish hucksters) use to sell whatever they are selling … themselves, wars, cars, whatever. What there is, in reality, instead of America, is a supranational global capitalist empire, a decentralized, interdependent network of global corporations, financial institutions, national governments, intelligence agencies, supranational governmental entities, military forces, media, and so on. If that sounds far-fetched or conspiratorial, look at what is going on in Venezuela.

The entire global capitalist empire is working in concert to force the elected president of the country out of office. The US, the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Austria, Denmark, Poland, the Netherlands, Israel, Brazil, Peru, Chile, and Argentina have officially recognized Juan Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, in spite of the fact that no one elected him. Only the empire’s official evil enemies (i.e., Russia, China, Iran, Syria, Cuba, and other uncooperative countries) are objecting to this “democratic” coup. The global financial system (i.e., banks) has frozen (i.e., stolen) Venezuela’s assets, and is attempting to transfer them to Guaido so he can buy the Venezuelan military. The corporate media are hammering out the official narrative like a Goebbelsian piano in an effort to convince the general public that all this has something to do with democracy. You would have to be a total moron or hopelessly brainwashed not to recognize what is happening.

What is happening has nothing to do with America … the “America” that Americans believe they live in and that many of them want to “make great again.” What is happening is exactly what has been happening around the world since the end of the Cold War, albeit most dramatically in the Middle East. The de facto global capitalist empire is restructuring the planet with virtual impunity. It is methodically eliminating any and all impediments to the hegemony of global capitalism, and the privatization and commodification of everything.

Venezuela is one of these impediments. Overthrowing its government has nothing to do with America, or the lives of actual Americans. “America” is not to going conquer Venezuela and plant an American flag on its soil. “America” is not going to steal its oil, ship it “home,” and parcel it out to “Americans” in their pickups in the parking lot of Walmart.

What what about those American oil corporations? They want that Venezuelan oil, don’t they? Well, sure they do, but here’s the thing … there are no “American” oil corporations. Corporations, especially multi-billion dollar transnational corporations (e.g., Chevron, ExxonMobil, et al.) have no nationalities, nor any real allegiances, other than to their major shareholders. Chevron, for example, whose major shareholders are asset management and mutual fund companies like Black Rock, The Vanguard Group, SSgA Funds Management, Geode Capital Management, Wellington Management, and other transnational, multi-trillion dollar outfits. Do you really believe that being nominally headquartered in Boston or New York makes these companies “American,” or that Deutsche Bank is a “German” bank, or that BP is a “British” company?

And Venezuela is just the most recent blatant example of the empire in action. Ask yourself, honestly, what have the “American” regime change ops throughout the Greater Middle East done for any actual Americans, other than get a lot of them killed? Oh, and how about those bailouts for all those transnational “American” investment banks? Or the billions “America” provides to Israel? Someone please explain how enriching the shareholders of transnational corporations like Raytheon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin by selling billions in weapons to Saudi Arabian Islamists is benefiting “the American people.” How much of that Saudi money are you seeing? And, wait, I’ve got another one for you. Call up your friendly 401K manager, ask how your Pfizer shares are doing, then compare that to what you’re paying some “American” insurance corporation to not really cover you.

For the last two-hundred years or so, we have been conditioned to think of ourselves as the citizens of a collection of sovereign nation states, as “Americans,” “Germans,” “Greeks,” and so on. There are no more sovereign nation states. Global capitalism has done away with them. Which is why we are experiencing a “neo-nationalist” backlash. Trump, Brexit, the so-called “new populism” … these are the death throes of national sovereignty, like the thrashing of a suffocating fish before you whack it and drop it in the cooler. The battle is over, but the fish doesn’t know that. It didn’t even realize there was a battle until it suddenly got jerked up out of the water.

In any event, here we are, at the advent of the global capitalist empire. We are not going back to the 19th Century, nor even to the early 20th Century. Neither Donald Trump nor anyone else is going to “Make America Great Again.” Global capitalism will continue to remake the world into one gigantic marketplace where we work ourselves to death at bullshit jobs in order to buy things we don’t need, accumulating debts we can never pay back, the interest on which will further enrich the global capitalist ruling classes, who, as you may have noticed, are preparing for the future by purchasing luxury underground bunkers and post-apocalyptic compounds in New Zealand. That, and militarizing the police, who they will need to maintain “public order” … you know, like they are doing in France at the moment, by beating, blinding, and hideously maiming those Gilets Jaunes (i.e., Yellow Vest) protesters that the corporate media are doing their best to demonize and/or render invisible.

Or, who knows, Americans (and other Western consumers) might take a page from those Yellow Vests, set aside their political differences (or at least ignore their hatred of each other long enough to actually try to achieve something), and focus their anger at the politicians and corporations that actually run the empire, as opposed to, you know, illegal immigrants and imaginary legions of Nazis and Russians. In the immortal words of General Buck Turgidson, “I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed,” but, heck, it might be worth a try, especially since, the way things are going, we are probably going end up out there anyway.


Ian56 retweeted: On @DemocracyNow, here was my answer about the bizarre spectacle of watching the bipartisan political & media class - including @SpeakerPelosi - unite behind Trump, John Bolton, Marco Rubio and Elliott Abrams as they try to engineer regime change in Venezuela

cpYWuYI9_normal.jpg Glenn Greenwald
Ian56 retweeted:
On @DemocracyNow, here was my answer about the bizarre spectacle of watching the bipartisan political & media class - including @SpeakerPelosi - unite behind Trump, John Bolton, Marco Rubio and Elliott Abrams as they try to engineer regime change in Venezuela


Pro-Israel Lobby Caught on Tape Boasting That Its Money Influences Washington


A debate about the power in Washington of the pro-Israel lobby is underway, after Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., responded sharply to reports that Republican leader Kevin McCarthy was targeting both Omar and fellow Muslim Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan.

Omar quoted rap lyrics — “It’s all about the Benjamins baby” — to suggest McCarthy’s move was driven by the lobby’s prolific spending. Asked specifically who she was referring to, Omar responded, “AIPAC!”

The debate over the influence of pro-Israel groups could be informed by an investigation by Al Jazeera, in which an undercover reporter infiltrated The Israel Project, a Washington-based group, and secretly recorded conversations about political strategy and influence over a six-month period in 2016. That investigation, however, was never aired by the network — suppressed by pressure from the pro-Israel lobby.

In November, Electronic Intifada obtained and published the four-part series, but it did so during the week of the midterm elections, and the documentary did not get a lot of attention then.

In it, leaders of the pro-Israel lobby speak openly about how they use money to influence the political process, in ways so blunt that if the comments were made by critics, they’d be charged with anti-Semitism.  

“Congressmen and senators don’t do anything unless you pressure them.”

David Ochs, founder of HaLev, which helps send young people to AIPAC’s annual conference, described for the reporter how AIPAC and its donors organize fundraisers outside the official umbrella of the organization, so that the money doesn’t show up on disclosures as coming specifically from AIPAC. He describes one group that organizes fundraisers in both Washington and New York. “This is the biggest ad hoc political group, definitely the wealthiest, in D.C.,” Ochs says, adding that it has no official name, but is clearly tied to AIPAC. “It’s the AIPAC group. It makes a difference, it really, really does. It’s the best bang for your buck and the networking is phenomenal.” (Ochs and AIPAC did not immediately return The Intercept’s requests for comment.)

Without spending money, Ochs argues, the pro-Israel lobby isn’t able to enact its agenda. “Congressmen and senators don’t do anything unless you pressure them. They kick the can down the road, unless you pressure them, and the only way to do that is with money,” he explains. 

He describes a fundraiser for Anthony Brown, a Democrat running for Congress in Maryland, as typical. “So we want the Jewish community to go face to face in this small environment, 50, 30, 40 people, and say this is what’s important to us. We want to make sure that if we give you money that you’re going to enforce the Iran deal. That way, when they need something from him or her, like the Iran deal, they can quickly mobilize and say look we’ll give you 30 grand. They actually impact,” Ochs tells the reporter.

Such a claim is not so different from what Omar was describing, and for which she was roundly condemned. In the wake of Omar’s tweets, the Washington Post, for instance, reported: “The American Jewish Committee demanded an apology, calling her suggestion that AIPAC is paying American politicians for their support ‘demonstrably false and stunningly anti-Semitic.’” (On Monday, Omar apologized for her tweets but insisted that AIPAC and other lobbyist groups are harmful to U.S. politics.)

In the censored documentary, Ochs went on to describe a fundraiser hosted by Jeff Talpins, a hedge fund giant, as similar, as well. “In New York, with Jeff Talpins, we don’t ask a goddamn thing about the fucking Palestinians. You know why? Cuz it’s a tiny issue. It’s a small, insignificant issue. The big issue is Iran. We want everything focused on Iran,” Ochs says. “What happens is Jeff meets with the congressman in the back room, tells them exactly what his goals are — and by the way, Jeff Talpins is worth $250 million — basically they hand him an envelope with 20 credit cards, and say, You can swipe each of these credit cards for a thousand dollars each.”

Ochs explains that the club in New York required a minimum pledge of $10,000 to join and participate in such events. “It’s a minimum commitment. Some people give a lot more than that.”

AIPAC, on its own website, recruits members to join its “Congressional Club,” and commit to give at least $5,000 per election cycle.

Eric Gallagher, a top official at AIPAC from 2010 to 2015, tells the Al Jazeera reporter that AIPAC gets results. “Getting $38 billion in security aid to Israel matters, which is what AIPAC just did,” he notes at one secretly recorded lunch. “Everything AIPAC does is focused on influencing Congress.”

The film, called “The Lobby,” was produced by Al Jazeera’s investigative unit, and features hidden-camera footage obtained by the reporter, who posed as a Jewish pro-Israel activist from Britain who wanted to volunteer with The Israel Project.

Outfitted with a luxury apartment in Dupont Circle, the reporter hosted multiple gatherings and otherwise socialized broadly within the pro-Israel community, winning the confidence of senior officials, who divulged insider details, many of which have been leaked and created international news.

A companion version of the film, which looked at the Israel lobby’s influence in the United Kingdom, did make it to air and was the subject of intense controversy. It exposed a plot by an Israeli embassy official in the UK to “take down” pro-Palestinian Members of Parliament, leading to his resignation.

That film, however, included a snippet of footage from the United States. Officials here quickly realized that they, too, had been infiltrated. In the UK, the Israel lobby lodged an official complaint claiming the series was anti-Semitic, but the UK’s communications agency rejected the claim, finding that “the allegations in the programme were not made on the grounds that any of the particular individuals concerned were Jewish and noted that no claims were made relating to their faith.”

Pro-Israel officials in the United States, rather than file an official complaint, exerted political pressure. A bipartisan group of 19 lawmakers wrote to the Justice Department requesting an investigation into “the full range of activities undertaken by Al Jazeera in the United States,” and suggesting that the organization be made to register as a foreign agent. Ultimately, Qatar bent to the pressure, and killed the documentary.

The post Pro-Israel Lobby Caught on Tape Boasting That Its Money Influences Washington appeared first on The Intercept.


Solomon: Evidence Mounts Of Democrats' Collusion With Russia


After Congressional investigations in both the House and Senate have failed to produce evidence that Donald Trump and his campaign colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 US election from Hillary Clinton, The Hill's John Solomon points out the deafening silence over clear links between the Kremlin and the woman who would have been President had Donald Trump lost

Aside from the fact that the Clinton-funded Steele Dossier heavily relied on a Russian source. And the fact that John Podesta (who would have likely become Secretary of State) sat on the board of an energy company with a Kremlin official and a Russian oligarch - tangible evidence of Russian collusion exists. Once again, Solomon digs deeper into the upside-down to reveal Russian ties that would see Donald Trump jailed for treason by the left's standards. 

Congressional investigators have painstakingly pieced together evidence that shows the Clinton research project had extensive contact with Russians.


Steele’s main source of uncorroborated allegations against Trump came from an ex-Russian intelligence officer. “Much of the collection about the Trump campaign ties to Russia comes from a former Russian intelligence officer (? not entirely clear) who lives in the U.S.,” Ohr scribbled. -The Hill

In today's episode of the Twilight Zone, Solomon spotlights Hillary Clinton's close relationship with Russian leaders which raised concerns over a wholesale technology transfer to the Kremlin, right around the time of the Uranium One deal and Bill Clinton's now-infamous trip to Russia (where he hung out at Putin's house) and picked up a $500,000 check for one speech

As secretary of State, Hillary Clinton worked with Russian leaders, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-President Dmitri Medvedev, to create U.S. technology partnerships with Moscow’s version of Silicon Valley, a sprawling high-tech campus known as Skolkovo.

Clinton’s handprint was everywhere on the 2009-2010 project, the tip of a diplomatic spear to reboot U.S.-Russian relations after years of hostility prompted by Vladimir Putin’s military action against the former Soviet republic and now U.S. ally Georgia.

A donor to the Clinton FoundationRussian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, led the Russian side of the effort, and several American donors to the Clinton charity got involved. Clinton’s State Department facilitated U.S. companies working with the Russian project, and she personally invited Medvedev to visit Silicon Valley.


The collaboration occurred at the exact same time Bill Clinton made his now infamous trip to Russia to pick up a jaw-dropping $500,000 check for a single speech. -The Hill

The Clinton State Department ignored a 2013 warning from the US military's leading European intelligence think tank over the Skolkovo project - which suggested that it could be a front for economic and military espionage

"Skolkovo is an ambitious enterprise, aiming to promote technology transfer generally, by inbound direct investment, and occasionally, through selected acquisitions. As such, Skolkovo is arguably an overt alternative to clandestine industrial espionage — with the additional distinction that it can achieve such a transfer on a much larger scale and more efficiently," reads a 2013 EUCOM intelligence bulletin

"Implicit in Russia’s development of Skolkovo is a critical question — a question that Russia may be asking itself — why bother spying on foreign companies and government laboratories if they will voluntarily hand over all the expertise Russia seeks?"

The FBI followed EUCOM's warning the following year with letters outlining the dangers of US tech companies falling prey to Russian espionage through the Skolkovo project. A Boston FBI agent in particular wrote an "extraordinary op-ed to publicize the alarm," writes Solomon. 

The Skolkovo project "may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research development facilities and dual-use technologies with military and commercial application," wrote Assistant Special Agent Lucia Ziobro in the Boston Business Journal.

The FBI also sounded the alarm about the Uranium One deal - after an informant named William D. Campbell infiltrated the Russian state-owned energy giant Rosatom and gathered evidence of a racketeering scheme which included bribery, kickbacks and extortion. 

Campbell also obtained written evidence that Putin wanted to buy Uranium One as part of a strategy to obtain monopolistic domination of the global uranium markets, including leverage over the U.S.

Campbell also warned that a major in-kind donor to the Clinton Global Initiative was simultaneously working for Rosatom while the decision for U.S. approval was pending before Hillary Clinton’s department. Ultimately, her department and the Obama administration approved the transaction.

The evidence shows the Clintons financially benefited from Russia — personally and inside their charity — at the same time they were involved in U.S. government actions that rewarded Moscow and increased U.S. security risks. -The Hill

Beyond the Steele Dossier

While it is now publicly known (and below the investigatory double-standards of the DOJ to pursue) that the Steele dossier was a clear case of Russian collusion against then-candidate Donald Trump, there lies a lesser-known link between the Steele Dossier and a Belarus-born Russian businessman, Sergei Milian

What's more, "Steele and Simpson had Russian-tied business connections, too, while they formulated the dossier," writes Solomon. 

Steele worked for the lawyers for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and tried to leverage those connections to help the FBI get evidence from the Russian aluminum magnate against Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The effort resulted in FBI agents visiting Deripaska in fall 2016. Deripaska told the agents that no collusion existed.

Likewise, Simpson worked in 2016 for the Russian company Prevezon — which was trying to escape U.S. government penalties — and one of its Russian lawyers, Natalia Veselnitskaya. In sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Simpson admitted he dined with Veselnitskaya both the night before and the night after her infamous meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in June 2016. -The Hill

And yet, nobody bats an eye.