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Marathon Man Newz / Alex Jones Is Getting Sued (Again)
« on: March 20, 2018, 10:29:08 AM »
Brennan Gilmore is a smart, articulate guy who wants Alex Jones shut up for good. He does not want his case settled. He wants Jones to have to practice ethical journalism or be discredited, or go to jail. Jones gets sued a lot, and his usual response is to settle and issue an apology, which goes largely unnoticed. Not this time.

The lawsuit against Alex Jones, explained

Why a Foreign Service officer is suing Alex Jones for defamation, explained in a podcast.
By Julie Mar 19, 2018, 6:10pm EDT

When Foreign Service officer Brennan Gilmore learned that there was going to be an alt-right protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, he decided to attend as a counterprotester. What he didn’t realize is that his now-infamous video of a car driving into the crowd of counterprotesters would capture an American tragedy — and set him up as a target for death threats, hate mail, and doxxing.

“I am the center of these conspiracy theories that I’m behind the attacks in Charlottesville,” Gilmore told Today, Explained host Sean Rameswaram. “The general outline of the conspiracy theory is there is a deep state that is trying to overthrow Donald Trump and I am an operative of it. Alex Jones and his conspiracy theory says I was paid $320,000 by George Soros to come to Charlottesville to orchestrate the event, and then to get on mainstream media and lie about what happened — which would undermine Trump’s administration.”

This, of course, is nonsense. There is no deep state, no attempt to overthrow the president, and no ill intent on the part of Gilmore. So Gilmore is fighting back and suing Alex Jones and others for defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Learn how this could bring scrutiny to Jones’s notorious persona, and why conspiracy theories are so uniquely difficult to fight, on the latest episode of Today, Explained.

Go to Vox for the audio link. Gilmore is also on NPR today.

I do NOT agree with Vox that "there is no Deep State" I do think Alex Jones is a lying sack of shit.

Rolling Stone is and always has been the best lens we have on the US Presidency. I'm surprised Murdoch doesn't have Jan Wenner killed so he can silence the last voice of reason in America. Matt Taibbi isn't Hunter, but he's good.

Trump Is a Dangerous Idiot. So Why Are We Pushing Him Toward War?

In North Korea and in Syria, we should be encouraging Trump to mellow out – not the opposite

The only thing about Donald Trump that any sane person ever had to be grateful for was that he entered the White House claiming to be isolationist and war-averse.

By Matt Taibbi
March 9, 2018


    There's a big conference going on at the moment in Brussels, where the bipartisan Alliance for Securing Democracy – a group of journos, pols, and intelligence vets from around the West – is holding a conference to discuss how to rebuild the world order in a "time of distrust."

The president has taken his saber-rattling beyond Twitter – showing a real willingness to gamble with millions of lives

Speakers like Madeline Albright, Senator Chris Murphy, New York Times correspondent Steven Erlanger, U.S. NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and a host of other CNN panelist types are getting together to discuss how to solve that whole "The people are revolting!" problem Beltway pols have been stumbling over for years now.

The Alliance is part of the German Marshall Fund, which in turn is the group that built Hamilton 68, whose "digital dashboard" blacklist site exists to remind us daily that Russians are lurking behind basically all unorthodox opinions here in the U.S. Such opinions apparently include any desire to not get into a nuclear war.

For instance, according to Hamilton 68, five of the Russian bots' current six "top trending topics" are "South Korea," "Kim Jong Un," "Kim," "Jong" and "Un."

This comes in the wake of Thursday evening's news that Trump met in the White House with South Korean envoys, who in turn announced that Trump would be meeting with Kim Jong Un "by May, to achieve permanent de-nuclearization."

I stupidly thought it was good news that Trump had been convinced to sit down with Kim Jong Un to negotiate an end to the nuclear standoff, as opposed to letting him continue to egg Kim on to launch via Freudian name-calling sessions and late-night tweets.

Obviously, whenever Donald Trump is involved in any meeting of import, and particularly a peace negotiation, it would be preferable to have him gagged, perhaps with the straitjacket-and-mask setup they used to allow Hannibal Lecter to speak with Senator Ruth Martin in Silence of the Lambs. Certainly you don't want him making any sudden movements toward the nuclear football in a meeting with Kim. But talking is for sure better than trading warheads. Right?

Nope. According to David Ignatius, the well-known Washington Post reporter who apparently is also on the board of this Alliance For Securing Democracy, Trump's negotiation plan is a sign of weakness.

Ignatius wrote as much in a column this morning called "Trump is Wile E. Coyote," in which the Post writer relayed that his CIA buddies think Trump is getting pantsed by Little Rocket Man. Here's the lede:

"Beep beep" was the subject line of an email message I received a few weeks ago from former CIA analyst Robert Carlin, as Kim Jong Un was accelerating his diplomatic charm offensive. "So typical," wrote Carlin in his brief text. "The North Koreans as Road Runner, the U.S. as Wile E. Coyote."

So to recap: Russian bots are pushing Korean peninsula-related hashtags, according to the Alliance for Securing Democracy, whose board member David Ignatius is simultaneously telling America that negotiating an end to an unprecedented nuclear danger there makes us look like loser cartoon characters.

As Ignatius wrote: "We'll probably be chasing Kim around a negotiating table for a while, which is better than 'duck and cover.' But as Carlin says, 'Beep beep.'"

I wrote to Ignatius to ask him what would be good, if negotiating an end to a nuclear standoff is bad. He hasn't answered.

While the Trump White House has been fumbling to coordinate a response to the whole "The President of the United States apparently cheated on his wife with a porn star and then paid her off" problem, and fighting off the anaconda-like Mueller criminal probe, Trump's political opposition has been spending more and more time pushing our president into aggressive military stances.

Continuing a theme that really began last year with Trump's much-praised decision to lob missiles into Syria while eating cake with horrified Chinese leaders, Beltway voices continue to demand, for instance, that Trump escalate America's on-the-ground opposition to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Both Ignatius and Kenneth Pollock of the American Enterprise Institute are examples of think-tankers arguing the widespread D.C. consensus, that Syria is the perfect place for American forces to dig in and take on Iran, Assad, and by extension Russia as well.

Americans seem to be in denial about the tinderbox nature of this lunatic Syrian situation.

Things took a serious turn in early February, when a mysterious news story suggested Russian contract fighters were killed by American weapons in a town called Deir al-Zour. The incident reportedly happened on the night of February 7th, as part of a counterattacking raid conducted across the Euphrates River by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

News outlets in both the east and the west seriously buried the lede when this incident first took place. The BBC and the AP were classic examples. This was the second-to-last line in the BBC's February 8th article: The Russian defense ministry said the U.S. strike wounded 25 pro-government volunteers…

What? Were any of those "wounded" by our strike Russians? Were they planning to retaliate? What was going on?

The Russians similarly downplayed the incident at first. There were reports from the Russian government that first suggested "five Russian citizens" had died. That later became dozens "injured."

Then on February 14th, Novaya Gazeta, historically the most trustworthy and independent of Russian news outlets, ran a piece called "Mistake or Treason?" that asserted 13 Russians had died that night. The paper claimed Russian officials let private Russian "Wagner" contract fighters join pro-Assad forces in a troop advance Russian military leaders had assured their American counterparts would not take place.

Novaya Gazeta said the Russians died under fire from Apache helicopters, F-15s, drones, and ground batteries. There were later rumors that the casualties were in the hundreds, but subsequent investigations by outlets like Der Spiegel failed to bear that out.

Still, the mere fact that Russian citizens were killed by American forces in an ongoing proxy war that both sides seem determined to escalate should be absolutely terrifying to ordinary citizens here and there – especially given that aggressive rhetoric is at an all-time high, again on both sides.

Vladimir Putin recently gave a frightening speech in advance of the March 18 presidential "election" in which he spent most of his time boasting about the size, modernity, and potency of Russia's military.

Pooty-poot boasted of new "unlimited range" nuclear missiles. He paused mid-speech to show a pulled-straight-from-Dr.-Strangelove animated clip of a missile weaving through snow-covered mountains on its way to the American continent (the presentation ended up including simulated explosions over Florida).

"Nobody in the world has anything like this," Putin bragged.

Meanwhile here in the States we've had a constant drumbeat of "new Pearl Harbor" stories describing the troll farm indictment as an "act of war," with politicians and pundits alike calling for escalations of hostilities with Russia.

Putin's boasts are completely in line with what he's always been about, using nationalist rhetoric and military imagery to cover up his almost total incompetence as an economic leader. He's just the latest in a long line of Russian heads of state, dating back to the Soviet days, who reflexively try to cover up for empty shelves and crumbling infrastructure with marches and missile parades.

Meanwhile, in the States, the only thing about Donald Trump that any sane person ever had to be grateful for was that he entered the White House claiming to be isolationist and war-averse. That soon proved to be a lie like almost everything else about his campaign, but Jesus, do we have to help this clown down the road toward General Trump fantasies?

We have the dumbest, least competent White House in history. Whatever else anyone in America has as a goal for Trump's remaining time in office, the single most important priority must to be keeping this guy away from the nuclear button. Almost anything else would be survivable.

Which is why it makes no sense to be taunting Trump and basically calling him a wuss for negotiating with Kim Jong Un or being insufficiently aggressive in Syria. In the middle of a shooting conflict, our troops are currently stationed right across the river from large numbers of both private and official Russian forces. Who doesn't think this is crazy?

The rhetoric we're hearing now about Trump's weakness from the likes of Ignatius and Max Boot is essentially identical to the stuff we heard directed at Barack Obama when he had the temerity to express willingness to talk to leaders of nations like Iran.

There is a segment of D.C. thinkluencers who seem to think the U.S. is setting a bad precedent if it doesn't bomb and threaten its way through every foreign policy conundrum, from Libya to Yemen to Iran to Syria to, apparently, even Russia.

It seems like the smart thing to do would be to wait until we had someone with an IQ over 9 in office before we start demanding that the White House play war with nuclear opponents. Of course, I might be biased because I have kids and live in a major population center. Can we chill on the gunboat diplomacy for a couple of years at least? And if not, why not?

Here's an alternative look a the Novichock attack on Skripal.

The UK government is manufacturing its nerve agent case for ‘action’ on Russia
Official claim that ‘Novichok’ points solely to Russia discredited

By Nafeez Ahmed

Military personnel investigate the Novichok poisoning in Salisbury

    Published by INSURGE intelligence, a crowdfunded investigative journalism platform for people and planet. Support us to report where others fear to tread.

On Monday, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that former Russian spy, Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia, were poisoned with “a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia” known as ‘Novichok’.

The chemical agent was identified by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down. May referred to the British government’s “knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so” as a basis to conclude that Russia’s culpability in the attack “is highly likely.”

On these grounds, she claimed that only two scenarios are possible:

    “Either this was a direct act by the Russian State against our country. Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”

The British government’s line has been chorused uncritically by the entire global press corps, with little scrutiny of its plausibility.

But there is a problem: far from offering a clear-cut evidence-trail to Vladimir Putin’s chemical warfare labs, the use of Novichok in the nerve gas attack on UK soil points to a wider set of potential suspects, of which Russia is in fact the least likely.
Russia did actually destroy its nerve agent capabilities according to the OPCW

Yet a concerted effort is being made to turn facts on their head.

No clearer sign of this can be found than in the statement by Ambassador Peter Wilson, UK Permanent Representative to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), in which he claimed that Russia has “failed for many years” to fully disclose its chemical weapons programme.

Wilson was parroting a claim made a year earlier by the US State Department that Russia had not made a complete declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile: “The United States cannot certify that Russia has met its obligations under the Convention.”

Yet these claims are contradicted by the OPCW itself, which in September 2017 declared that the independent global agency had rigorously verified the completed destruction of Russia’s entire chemical weapons programme, including of course its nerve agent production capabilities.

OPCW Director-General, Ahmet Üzümcü, congratulated Russia with the following announcement:

    “The completion of the verified destruction of Russia’s chemical weapons programme is a major milestone in the achievement of the goals of the Chemical Weapons Convention. I congratulate Russia and I commend all of their experts who were involved for their professionalism and dedication. I also express my appreciation to the States Parties that assisted the Russian Federation with its destruction program and thank the OPCW staff who verified the destruction.”

The OPCW’s press statement confirmed that:

    “The remainder of Russia’s chemical weapons arsenal has been destroyed at the Kizner Chemical Weapons Destruction Facility in the Udmurt Republic. Kizner was the last operating facility of seven chemical weapons destruction facilities in Russia. The six other facilities (Kambarka, Gorny, Maradykovsky, Leonidovka, Pochep and Shchuchye) completed work and were closed between 2005 and 2015.”

The OPCW’s reports on Russia confirm that the agency found no evidence of the existence of an active Novichok programme.

It should be noted that Dr. Robin M. Black, formerly of Porton Down’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory — which reportedly confirmed the use of Novichok in the Salisbury assassination — sits on the Scientific Advisory Board of the OPCW. Yet a scientific review by Dr. Black also raised doubts about Novichok, noting that its properties and structures had not been independently confirmed.

Here is what Porton Down’s Dr Black wrote about Novichoks in a 2016 scientific review published by the Royal Society of Chemistry:

    In recent years, there has been much speculation that a fourth generation of nerve agents, ‘Novichoks’ (newcomer), was developed in Russia, beginning in the 1970s as part of the ‘Foliant’ programme, with the aim of finding agents that would compromise defensive countermeasures. Information on these compounds has been sparse in the public domain, mostly originating from a dissident Russian military chemist, Vil Mirzayanov. No independent confirmation of the structures or the properties of such compounds has been published.

On the basis of this sort of analysis, the OPCW’s science board, which included Porton Down’s Dr Black as UK representative, concluded that:

    “… it has insufficient information to comment on the existence or properties of ‘Novichoks.’”

So in short, the OPCW does not agree with the vague US and British insistence that Russia failed to declare all its chemical weapons stockpiles and facilities, and does not agree with the insistence that Novichok stockpiles or production facilities exist in Russia. But it seems that neither does His Excellency Peter Wilson himself.

In a statement to the OPCW in November 2017, Ambassador Wilson congratulated the OPCW on verifying the complete destruction of Russia’s chemical weapons programme with high praise for its director, Ahmet Üzümcü. Wilson listed the latter’s numerous achievements including:

    “… the completion of the verified destruction of Russia’s declared chemical weapons programme.”

Yes, Wilson specified he was only talking about Russia’s “declared” programme, but he did not denounce the OPCW for failing to deal with an undeclared Novichoks programme. So how credible is his recent insinuation that the OPCW’s position is wrong?

Arguably, not very. Because the claim, tracing back to the State Department, that Russia has not declared all its chemical weapons, is based on the assertion that its Novichok capability still exists. But both Porton Down’s Dr. Black and the OPCW’s Science Advisory Board fundamentally questioned the “existence” of Novichok.

The lack of credibility of the Anglo-American critique of Russia’s destruction of its chemical weapons was called out in a detailed report by the respected Clingandael Institute of International Relations. The report, co-funded by the European Union, criticised the United States for adopting an unhelpful politicised approach to the chemical weapons issue in relation to Russia, while hypocritically delaying its own compliance obligations, all of which was done in a manner which bypassed OPCW mechanisms. It’s worth reproducing that entire text in full:

    “… on a political level there have been some drawbacks. Particularly interesting is that compliance concerns tend to be raised by the US, while this state is itself being criticized for delays in disarmament. In 2005, the US expressed concern about active offensive CW research and development (R&D) programmes, as well as inaccurate declarations regarding past CW transfers and undeclared CW facilities in Russia, China, Iran, Libya and Sudan. The US decided to address these concerns through bilateral channels, rather than directly engaging formal OPCW mechanisms. In the meantime, the US itself has been criticized for exporting arms classified as ‘toxicological agents’ (notably tear gas) to numerous countries in the Middle East (between 2009–13). Since 9/11, the US has also intensified its R&D on non-lethal chemical agents, along with new means of delivery and dispersal. The CWC (Article II, para. 2) does cover chemical compounds with incapacitating or irritant effects… Taken together with the delay in destroying US CW stockpiles, this has taken a toll on the US’ standing within the CWC, undermining its role as a ‘regime hegemon’. Since these compliance concerns remain unresolved, this has also, ipso facto, affected the authority of the CWC, and hence the OPCW.” [emphasis added]

In other words, the US did not raise its claimed concerns about Russia’s undeclared Novichoks through the proper mechanisms via OPCW, but only bilaterally. Why?

One possible explanation is that by not working through the issue with the OPCW, the US effectively circumvented the international verification process by which the Novichoks issue, if real, could be properly investigated and assessed. This has conveniently permitted the US and Britain to claim, entirely without evidence, that Russia is in non-compliance of the Chemical Weapons Convention by insisting that its Novichoks supplies and capabilities remain undeclared. Yet it is precisely the US’ own refusal to disclose and navigate the issue through the OPCW that means the matter can be made out to be forever unresolved.

The crux of it is this: At this point, neither the US nor Britain have offered any actual evidence as to why the OPCW’s verification process regarding Russia’s dismantlement of its chemical weapons capability should be disbelieved. They have provided no evidence that Russia retains any Novichok stockpiles.

The OPCW is, of course, the same agency whose independent investigations the West is relying on to determine culpability in major chemical weapons attacks in Syria. Why, then, would the OPCW’s conclusions on Syria be considered gospel truth, while its conclusions on Russia be rejected?

Not only has the press completely overlooked these kinks in the British government line, it has curiously ignored that Theresa May’s claims contradict the public statements of Mirzayanov.

Agence France Presse, for instance, declared in an opening paragraph to an interview with Mirzayanov, “The Russian chemist who first revealed the existence of ‘Novichok’ nerve agents says only the Russians can be behind the weapon’s use in Britain against a former spy and his daughter.” And yet, the AFP article went on to report:

    “The only other possibility, he said, would be that someone used the formulas in his book to make such a weapon.”

Mirzayanov’s book, published in 2008, contains the formulas he alleges can be used to create Novichoks. In 1995, he explained that “the chemical components or precursors” of Novichok are “ordinary organophosphates that can be made at commercial chemical companies that manufacture such products as fertilizers and pesticides.”

If his claims are remotely accurate, then that means Novichoks can actually be manufactured by anyone who reads Mirzayanov’s book with access to a decent laboratory. Which means that Theresa May’s claim that Novichoks lead only to Russia is little more than a deception.
Other states have Novichok capabilities, but the British government doesn’t want to investigate them

The OPCW’s authoritative verdict on Russia’s now destroyed chemical weapons capabilities should be enough to give anyone pause for thought in rushing to judgement concerning Russian responsibility for the Novichok attack.

Instead, the British government appears to have no interest in investigating the fact that there are other state agencies with significant nerve agent capabilities. Like its ally, the United States.

Under Boris Yeltsin, who won Russian elections thanks to Western covert meddling, the Russian government had declared that it was not stockpiling Novichok. This is why Yeltsin did not report Novichok’s existence under chemical-weapons conventions at the time — because the official Russian position was that the stockpiles no longer existed.

It turns out the Americans themselves were involved in the dismantlement of Russia’s remaining Novichok capabilities.

In August 1999, as the BBC reported, US defence experts arrived in Uzbekistan to help “dismantle and decontaminate one of the former Soviet Union’s largest chemical weapons testing facilities.” The facility was known as “a major research site for a new generation of secret, highly lethal chemical weapons, known as Novichok”, and provided the US ample opportunity to learn about this nerve agent and reproduce it for testing and defence purposes.

But it is not just the US. According to Craig Murray — former US Ambassador to Uzbekistan and prior to that a longtime career diplomat in the UK Foreign Office who worked across Africa, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia — the British government itself has advanced capabilities in Novichok:

    “The ‘novochok’ group of nerve agents — a very loose term simply for a collection of new nerve agents the Soviet Union were developing fifty years ago — will almost certainly have been analysed and reproduced by Porton Down. That is entirely what Porton Down is there for. It used to make chemical and biological weapons as weapons, and today it still does make them in small quantities in order to research defences and antidotes. After the fall of the Soviet Union Russian chemists made a lot of information available on these nerve agents. And one country which has always manufactured very similar persistent nerve agents is Israel.”

But the British government doesn’t want to investigate Porton Down, not even to rule out the possibility that it may have ‘lost control’ of some of its Novichok stockpiles.
Porton Down: proudly experimenting with nerve gas on the British public from the 1950s to 1989

Perhaps the government is worried about what it might actually discover if it asks too many questions about Porton Down itself.

The facility has a somewhat chequered history in relation to the abuse of chemical and biological weapons programmes that has been largely forgotten. This history illustrates that the British government has not at all been averse to using chemical and biological weapons on its own population, just to see what happens.

Two years ago, the Independent reported on new historical research which found that during the Cold War, the British government “used the general public as unwitting biological and chemical warfare guinea pigs on a much greater scale than previously thought.”

Over 750 secret operations had been carried out on “hundreds of thousands of ordinary Britons” involving “biological and chemical warfare attacks launched from aircraft, ships and road vehicles.”

    “British military aircraft dropped thousands of kilos of a chemical of ‘largely unknown toxic potential’ on British civilian populations in and around Salisbury in Wiltshire, Cardington in Bedfordshire and Norwich in Norfolk… Substantial quantities were also dispersed across parts of the English Channel and the North Sea. It’s not known the extent to which coastal towns in England and France were affected… commuters on the London underground were also used as guinea pigs on a substantially larger scale than previously thought. The new research has discovered that a hitherto unknown biological warfare field trial was carried out in the capital’s tube system in May 1964. The secret operation — carried out by scientists from the government’s chemical and biological warfare research centre at Porton Down, Wiltshire — involved the release of large quantities of bacteria called Bacillus globigii…”

The new research also shows that many of the British scientists involved “had grave misgivings about the field trials… some had long felt that it was not politically advisable to conduct large-scale trials in Britain with live bacterial agents.” Such reservations did not stop the government from authorising these dangerous experiments.

Porton Down also conducted extensive nerve agent tests on British soldiers around this time.

Less well-known, though, is the fact that members of the British armed forces “were experimented on with Sarin, the deadly nerve gas, as late as 1983 at the Government’s defence research centre at Porton Down,” according to Ministry of Defence documents obtained by The Telegraph. Operation Antler, as the police investigation into the experiments was called, found that the nerve agent trials had gone on as late as 1989.
A secret British intelligence unit is actively arranging ‘honey trap’ propaganda operations to incriminate ‘adversaries’

There are strong reasons, then, not to fall slavishly in line with the British government’s rush to judgement on Russia.

But this is particularly the case given what we now know about British intelligence service’s disinformation intent and capabilities when dealing with “adversaries.”

National Security Agency documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed that a secret British intelligence unit, Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group (JTRIG), uses a range of “dirty tricks” against “nations, hackers, terror groups, suspected criminals and arms dealers that include releasing computer viruses, spying on journalists and diplomats, jamming phones and computers, and using sex to lure targets into ‘honey traps,’” according to a NBC News investigation.

Although much of the focus of these operations is online, they also include the goal of “having an impact in the real world” and “using online techniques to make something happen in the real or online world.” The modus operandi is to “destroy, deny, degrade [and] disrupt” enemies by “discrediting” them and planting misinformation designed to look like actions were performed by them.

Propaganda campaigns can use deception, mass messaging and “pushing stories” via Twitter, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. One section of the document explains that such influence operations can involve direct efforts to manipulate people’s behaviour into compromising situations:

    “Honey trap; a great option. Very successful when it works.

    - Get someone to go somewhere on the internet, or a physical location to be met by a ‘friendly face’.

    - JTRIG has the ability to ‘shape’ the environment on occasions.”

Such capabilities and operations of deception at the heart of the British state raise perfectly reasonable questions about whether the UK’s intelligence services are deliberately seeking to pin the blame on Russia for geopolitical reasons — or perhaps, even, to distract from scrutiny of allies who might be legitimate suspects.

According to former British diplomat Craig Murray, for instance, it is more reasonable to cast the net of suspicion onto Israel for many of the same reasons cited by the British government:

    “Israel has the nerve agents. Israel has Mossad which is extremely skilled at foreign assassinations. Theresa May claimed Russian propensity to assassinate abroad as a specific reason to believe Russia did it. Well Mossad has an even greater propensity to assassinate abroad. And while I am struggling to see a Russian motive for damaging its own international reputation so grieviously, Israel has a clear motivation for damaging the Russian reputation so grieviously. Russian action in Syria has undermined the Israeli position in Syria and Lebanon in a fundamental way, and Israel has every motive for damaging Russia’s international position by an attack aiming to leave the blame on Russia.”

Murray further points out that it is unlikely the Russians “waited eight years to do this, they could have waited until after their World Cup.” Similarly, it makes little sense to suddenly assassinate a “swapped spy” who had already served his time and been living out in the open for years in the UK.

Murray is no blind Russiaphile, and so his critical analysis cannot be dismissed on grounds of partisanship. He describes himself as “someone who believes that agents of the Russian state did assassinate Litvinenko, and that the Russian security services carried out at least some of the apartment bombings that provided the pretext for the brutal assault on Chechnya. I believe the Russian occupation of Crimea and parts of Georgia is illegal.”

But he cautions that, given the severe lack of credible evidence on this case, he is “alarmed by the security, spying and armaments industries’ frenetic efforts to stoke Russophobia and heat up the new cold war.”

Indeed, INSURGE just reported on an extensive US Army study published last year which not only stated quite unequivocally that NATO expansionism is the main driver of Russian belligerence, but that NATO’s main interest has always been to rollback Russia’s regional influence so that the West can dominate Central Asian natural resources and oil pipeline routes.

The document recommended that in 2018, the US should consider pursuing a concerted covert “information” campaign to undermine Putin.
Army document: US strategy to ‘dethrone’ Putin for oil pipelines might provoke WW3

Senior DIA, Air Force and Army officials admit that NATO expansionism and US covert interference in Russian internal…

Is this what we are seeing play out right now as Theresa May rushes to punish Putin?

This leaves us with the following. The actual history of Novichok shows that out of the countries discussed here, Russia is the only state to have been certified by the OPCW as having destroyed its chemical weapons programme, including its nerve agent capabilities. The OPCW found no evidence to indicate that Russia retains an active Novichok capability. The same is not the case for the US, Britain and Israel.

There is no legitimate reason for the British authorities to rule out that any of these states could have at the very least ‘lost control’ of their nerve agent stockpiles. The fact that the government chose, instead, to shut down all avenues of inquiry other than to claim falsely that the “only possibility” is for all roads to lead to Russia, demonstrates that we are almost certainly in the midst of a concerted state propaganda operation.

It may turn out that Russia did indeed carry out the Novichok attack. But at this time, the British state has no real basis to presume this. Which implies that the state has already decided that it wants to manufacture a path to heightened hostilities with Russia, regardless of the evidence. And that does not bode well.
This story was 100% reader-funded. Please support our independent journalism for as little as $1 a month, and share widely.

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is the founding editor of INSURGE intelligence. Nafeez is a 16-year investigative journalist, formerly of The Guardian where he reported on the geopolitics of social, economic and environmental crises. Nafeez reports on ‘global system change’ for VICE’s Motherboard, and on regional geopolitics for Middle East Eye. He has bylines in The Independent on Sunday, The Independent, The Scotsman, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, New York Observer, The New Statesman, Prospect, Le Monde diplomatique, among other places. He has twice won the Project Censored Award for his investigative reporting; twice been featured in the Evening Standard’s top 1,000 list of most influential Londoners; and won the Naples Prize, Italy’s most prestigious literary award created by the President of the Republic. Nafeez is also a widely-published and cited interdisciplinary academic applying complex systems analysis to ecological and political violence.

Marathon Man Newz / Mike Shedlock Deconstructs the Talking Head Kudlow
« on: March 16, 2018, 01:32:44 PM »
The saving grace for TV pundits is that the public has a very short memory. Fortunately for us there are a few people out there who listen to pundits and never forget the stupid shit they said last year, or even a decade ago. Mike Shedlock is one of those people.

Kudlow Already Proves He's Perfect for Economic Advisor Job

Mike Mish Shedlock

In one day flat, Larry Kudlow proves he is perfectly suited to be Trump's top economic advisor.

This is going to come as a shock to most people but Larry Kudlow stepped up to the plate today and hit pitch right out of the ballpark.

"Just let it rip, for heaven’s sake", says Kudlow of U.S. economy as he Warns the Fed Against Hiking Too Fast.


Yes, perfect. With that statement, Kudlow laid the groundwork for Trump to blame the Fed for hiking too fast when the next recession hits.

He made the statement in an hour-long interview on CNBC. That's more perfection for you.

Camera Proven

The Boston Herald accurately noted yesterday that Kudlow is Camera-Proven.

Kudlow's Track Record

I have still more perfection for you. I talked about it yesterday with an analysis of Kudlow's Economic Forecasting Credentials.

    Bubble Spotting: In 2005, he said “all the bubbleheads” looking for a housing-price crash in Las Vegas and Naples, Florida, and the wider economy, would be proven wrong.
    Bubble Spotting: In December 2007, the month the National Bureau of Economic Research later dated the start of the recession, he was arguing there was no recession and that the “Bush boom continues.”
    Inflation Alarm: In 2010 he predicted Yellen is Spellin' Future Inflation.
    Oil: In 2014 he argued lower oil prices are unambiguously good.
    Five Percent GDP: In 2015 , echoing Trump, he said the U.S. should have a 5 percent growth target,
    Recession: In 2016, Kudlow predicted a business recession looms.
    Tax Cut: In December, he said Trump’s tax overhaul will lead to 3 percent to 4 percent growth,
    Growth Angels: In December, he said the president is on the side of the “growth angels.”
    Long-Term Interest Rates: In February, he said that a recovering economy could push long-term interest rates beyond 3.5 percent
    Stock Market: He predicted the stock market would go up if Trump was elected.

Record Synopsis

Kudlow is 1-10. Point 9 is unknown. Let's also add that Kudlow said "I Would Buy The Dollar And Sell Gold".

Clearly, that's sheer brilliance as the following chart shows.

Brilliant? Of course. Kudlow is 9 out of 10 for what Wall Street wants to hear!

Strike that, counting gold, he is an amazing 10 out of 11.

Tut Tut

Some of you will no doubt point out that 10 out of 11 is not perfect.

To that I say "tut tut".

Harsh words indeed, especially from me.

But Trump is only concerned about points 7 thru 10. Kudlow is a perfect 4 for 4. That's what matters.

Measuring in Eyes of Beholder

    We must not measure things as they are.
    Nor should we measure things as they should be and what it takes to get there.
    Rather we must measure things from the perspective of what Trump wants to hear!

Beyond Perfection

The fact that Kudlow is camera-proven and willing to say anything Trump wants to hear is a step above perfection.

Mathematically that is impossible, but once again, one must view this through the eyes of Trump where forces of nature and math do not prevail.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Marathon Man Newz / Damn Humans Will Fuck Anything That Moves
« on: March 16, 2018, 11:21:15 AM »
So Neanderthals weren't the only non-human species our ancestors found sexually attractive. Why am I not surprised? I'm only surprised sheep don't have more human DNA.

Humans Mated Outside Our Species 3 Times

Second instance of human-Denisovan interbreeding discovered

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2018 9:31 AM CDT

(Newser) – Ancient humans weren't against knocking boots with other species: We know they had sex with Neanderthals. We also know they mated with the mysterious Denisovans, as some Australasians (those from Papua New Guinea in particular) have 5% Denisovan DNA. But a "breakthrough" study shows the interbreeding wasn't limited to those two instances. While looking for ancient DNA in the genomes of 5,600 living humans, a team at the University of Washington in Seattle came across evidence of a third interbreeding event, reports New Scientist. A smaller contribution of Denisovan DNA in Han Chinese, Chinese Dai, and Japanese people—about 0.2% of their genome—suggests humans mixed with a distinct population of Denisovans in not one but two locations: Indonesia or Australasia and East Asia.

Though the only four Denisovan fossils that have been found come from the same cave in Siberia, the research published in the journal Cell shows Denisovans were spread across Asia and "suggests that at least in some instances, Denisovans and modern humans were willing to live in proximity and interact," lead author Sharon Browning says. Her research also backs the theory that there was a single "wave" of interbreeding between humans and one population of Neanderthals, reports the Atlantic. But Browning couldn't link other ancient DNA found in living humans to Neanderthals or Denisovans, suggesting humans may have mated with hominins we haven't even discovered yet. Harvard geneticist David Reich, who was not involved in the research, says the finding of "a definite third interbreeding event" makes this "a breakthrough paper," per the Washington Post.

Marathon Man Newz / The Televisionization of the White House
« on: March 16, 2018, 09:21:50 AM »
More war hawks and Kochroaches.....and all media talking heads. Trump thinks reality and Reality TV work the same way, evidently. Be afraid.

The Daily 202: Trump may hire multiple cable news personalities as part of shake-up

By James Hohmann March 16 at 8:52 AM Email the author

Larry Kudlow, a longtime fixture on CNBC, is interviewed on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday after he was announced as the president's new top economic aide. (Richard Drew/AP)

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.

THE BIG IDEA: Donald Trump’s reality television presidency may be getting more star power for season two.

Trump has decided to remove H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser and is actively discussing Fox News contributor John Bolton as a potential successor.

A leading contender to replace Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is Pete Hegseth, the co-host of “Fox and Friends Weekend.”

The president named CNBC analyst and former host Larry Kudlow to replace former Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn as his chief economic adviser on Wednesday.

Heather Nauert, a former co-host of “Fox and Friends,” got promoted on Monday from being a spokeswoman for the State Department to acting undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs. She replaced Steve Goldstein, who was fired because he publicly contradicted the White House’s claim that Rex Tillerson knew he was being fired before Trump announced it on Twitter. (Is it any coincidence that Mike Pompeo got elevated from Langley to Foggy Bottom the morning after he aggressively went to bat for Trump on the Sunday shows?)

-- Trump’s plot to poach from green rooms is an additional proof point that validates two important themes I’ve written about: Trump has debased the value of expertise and supercharged the celebrification of American politics.

Fox News host Pete Hegseth heads to a meeting with Donald Trump at Trump Tower in December 2016. (Evan Vucci/AP)

-- The president expressed interest in bringing Bolton, Hegseth and Kudlow on board during the transition, but he was dissuaded by traditionalists who said they weren’t qualified for such powerful posts. The VA secretary, for instance, manages the government’s second-largest bureaucracy, which employs 360,000. But Hegseth is just 37. The Iraq War veteran previously served as the executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, which is in the constellation of groups bankrolled by the billionaire Koch brothers. He ran for Senate in Minnesota against Amy Klobuchar in 2012, but his campaign was such a disaster that he unexpectedly lost the GOP nomination to a random Ron Paul supporter — who went on to lose in the general election by 35 points.

Hegseth’s views on reforming VA “are considered extreme even by some Republicans in Congress,” but Trump frequently calls him to discuss veterans’ policy, Lisa Rein reports: “Hegseth has dined at the White House and, during an Oval Office meeting between Trump and Shulkin last week, the president called Hegseth to seek his counsel on pending legislation that would expand private care. He also is disliked by traditional veterans’ advocacy groups, which fear a downsized VA and a privatized system, and which would probably mount a strong campaign against his nomination.”

John Bolton speaks last month at the Conservative Political Action Conference. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

-- Bolton, an outspoken hawk who had a tumultuous and short-lived tenure as George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations, is also seen as too extreme by many Republicans on Capitol Hill, but he wouldn’t need to get confirmed to become national security adviser. “Trump is now comfortable with ousting McMaster, with whom he never personally gelled, but is willing to take time executing the move because he wants to ensure both that the three-star Army general is not humiliated and that there is a strong successor lined up,” Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig reported last night. “Bolton has met with Trump several times and often agrees with the president’s instincts. Trump also thinks Bolton … is good on television.”

Another finalist for the job is Keith Kellogg, the chief of staff of the National Security Council. “Kellogg travels with Trump on many domestic trips, in part because the president likes his company and thinks he is fun,” my colleagues report.

-- One reason Kudlow was attractive to Trump is that he can go on business news channels to promote his agenda. Ostensibly, Bolton and Hegseth could do the same. “The president likes me as a media communicator, so I will be more than happy to oblige,” Kudlow said Wednesday night on CNBC. He added that the president had phoned him a few hours earlier when the news broke of his selection to be director of the National Economic Council. “The president called and he said, ‘It’s out,’” Kudlow recalled. “And he said, ‘You’re on the air … I’m looking at a picture of you … Very handsome!’ So Trumpian.”

Then-Deputy National Security Adviser K.T. McFarland watches Jeff Sessions get sworn in as attorney general in the Oval Office last year. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

-- But installing cable pundits in decision-making jobs has not worked out very well for Trump thus far. Foreign policy pros were aghast when Trump named K.T. McFarland as his deputy national security adviser during the transition. She had appeared frequently on Fox as an analyst and anchored her own program called “DEFCON3.” But the last time she’d worked in government was more than three decades earlier, as a junior Pentagon spokeswoman and speechwriter.

McFarland got marginalized after Michael Flynn went down. Then Trump nominated her to be ambassador to Singapore, but her nomination needed to be withdrawn when damning emails implicated her in the Russia scandal and imperiled her Senate confirmation.

Trump initially named another Fox talking head, Monica Crowley, as the senior director of strategic communications for the NSC. He stood by her for more than a week as news stories revealed egregious examples of plagiarism over several years, from a 2012 book to her PhD dissertation and op-eds. Just before the inauguration, under pressure, the president-elect dumped her.

Former Navy SEAL Carl Higbie, 34, was forced to resign two months ago as the chief of external affairs for the Corporation for National and Community Service after CNN uncovered bigoted statements he had made about African Americans, immigrants and gays as the host of an Internet radio show. He got the patronage because he had been a go-to Trump defender on Fox, CNN and MSNBC during the 2016 campaign.

America First Priorities, a Trump-sanctioned outside group, hired the 34-year-old on Thursday as its new advocacy director, with the expectation that he’ll again appear on TV to promote the president. “The fact that I’m coming back into the fray does not mean that the president endorses those comments by any stretch,” Higbie told the Hartford Courant yesterday. “We’ve all said something we’ve regretted. I just happened to say it on the radio. … But I’m committed to this administration and its policies.”

An advertisement for “Fox And Friends” outside the show's studio in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

-- The president reportedly has fewer events on his schedule than he did during the opening year of his presidency so that he can have extra “executive time” in the residence, which appears to be a euphemism for watching television. That’s only intensified the cable news feedback loop. Trump’s tweets routinely echo messages, sometimes word for word, that he heard on Fox minutes earlier. Remember Trump’s tweet about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s “button”?

    The president just threatened a nuclear strike while live-tweeting a Fox News segment.

    Left, Fox, 7:37 pm
    Right, Trump, 7:49 pm
    — Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) January 3, 2018

The president’s cable habit almost led him to torpedo a compromise his own administration had negotiated to reauthorize Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act in January. “Trump issued an early morning tweet in response to Judge Andrew Napolitano’s criticism on a ‘Fox and Friends’ segment,” Tufts University professor Daniel Drezner notes. “Only direct intervention from the chief of staff, national security adviser, director of national intelligence, CIA director, and House Speaker Paul Ryan convinced Trump to post a follow-up tweet clarifying his position.”

Last Friday, Trump pardoned a former Navy sailor whose conviction for unauthorized retention of national defense information had made him a cause celebre on Fox. Commentators have often argued that the year he served in prison for taking pictures aboard a submarine showed Hillary Clinton was treated too leniently for how she mishandled classified material.

Kristian Saucier, 31, who is now a garbage collector in Vermont, had appeared on “Fox and Friends” earlier in the week to press his case. “Obviously, there’s two different sets of laws in this country, for the political elite and for, you know, those lower-level, individuals, Americans, like myself,” he said. “I think my case draws a very clear example of that.”

    Former Navy Sailor Kristian Saucier: I mishandled classified info, pled guilty to that mistake and continue to be punished, meanwhile Hillary Clinton gets to run for president
    — FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) March 4, 2018

“A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on its involvement, if any, in the process,” Matt Zapotosky reports.

The only other pardon Trump has issued since taking office was for Joe Arpaio, who also frequently appears on Fox shows. The former Arizona sheriff was convicted of criminal contempt of court for ignoring a federal judge’s order to stop racially profiling Latinos.

-- Trump plainly enjoys the company of people he sees on TV. Trump invited Sebastian Gorka, a lightning rod who got fired from the White House last year but now spends a lot of time defending the president on Fox, over for dinner last week. Jesse Watters, a co-host of Fox’s “The Five,” joined them. “According to a White House official and two other sources familiar with the meeting, Trump invited Gorka and Watters because ‘he couldn’t get enough of them on TV,’ as one source put it, and wanted to confab with them about what he’d seen on Fox News, politics, gossip, and his administration,” The Daily Beast reported.

Watters tweeted a picture of the menu afterward:
    — Jesse Watters (@JesseBWatters) March 9, 2018

-- The embattled president also appears to be putting a greater premium on loyalty as he makes personnel decisions. He clearly feels burned by some of his early hiring decisions. For example, Trump interviewed Jeanine Pirro, the host of Fox’s “Justice with Judge Jeanine,” to be deputy attorney general. Instead, he went along with Rod Rosenstein, a respected DOJ insider who he had no prior relationship with. That’s a decision he’s repeatedly said that he regrets.

-- Trump’s embrace of talking heads has become a punchline in popular culture. “To help find [Gary Cohn’s] replacement, the president turned to his most trusted confidante: the TV in his bedroom,” Comedy Central host Trevor Noah said on “The Daily Show” last night. “Basically, if Trump sees you on TV, there’s a really good chance that he’ll hire you. By the time his term is done, his attorney general is going to be ‘Judge Judy’ and his housing secretary will be ‘Bob the Builder'.

Marathon Man Newz / Mike Krieger Outlines The Road to War
« on: March 16, 2018, 08:31:50 AM »
Krieger gets it right here, imho. Long, but worth reading. Might be easier to read if you follow the link.

Liberty Blitzkrieg


As Trump Moves Toward War, “The Resistance” Refuses to Resist
Michael Krieger | Posted Thursday Mar 15, 2018 at 1:23 pm

Tuesday’s post, It’s Impossible to Overstate How Terrible Mike Pompeo Is, laid out the view that Trump’s firing of Rex Tillerson represents a major shift toward war footing for the Trump administration, with Iran the specific target. This pivot was easily predictable, and I wrote numerous articles doing just that during 2017. Nevertheless, forecasting it and then seeing the disastrous pieces being moved into place are two different things.

Trump’s push to install Mike Pompeo as U.S. Secretary of State is a crystal clear indication that he’s begun the process of building his war cabinet. The next steps, likely to begin over the course of 2018, is to walk away from the Iran deal. I suspect relentless war propaganda to be unleashed simultaneously as the neocon/neoliberal/mass media war-monger alliance plays its well established role in selling the American public on another pointless and destructive war.

My prior post discussed Pompeo in detail, so I don’t want to be repetitive, but to revisit: Pompeo has contempt for the First Amendment, referred to torturers as patriots, wants Edward Snowden executed and is an extreme warhawk when it comes to Iran. In other words, he’s your typical neocon lunatic who’s just a bit more rough around the edges publicly. He represents the exact opposite sort of foreign policy to what so many Trump voters thought they were getting.

Switching gears a bit, today’s piece will zero in on Trump’s other desired appointment, Gina Haspel to head the CIA. Gina’s famous for running a CIA black site in Thailand where detainees were tortured. In fact, she performed her role with such gusto she was nicknamed “Bloody Gina” by some colleagues, and also played a key role in destroying videotape evidence of the torture. Her promotion represents a bizarre way to “drain the swamp,” but I digress.

What’s most interesting and extremely disturbing about the Pompeo and Haspel appointments, is the lack of resistance from “the resistance.” If you’ve been paying attention, this won’t be surprising since the resistance has always been an unholy alliance of neocon/neoliberal war hawks, intelligence agencies and the mass media.

They don’t want to “resist” any of Trump’s genuinely bad policies, the entire purpose of this psyops of a movement is to ensure Trump continues with the insane imperial policies of his predecessors. Trump’s about to deliver in spades, and you can thank “the resistance” for paving the way for this adminisitration’s upcoming belligerence.

Here’s what I mean. From The Hill:

    This puts Democrats in a potentially powerful position to swing Haspel’s confirmation.

    Yet early signs suggest that the minority is prepared to offer support, despite her controversial record, fierce opposition from human rights activists and the fact that she is a Trump nominee.

    The top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), on Wednesday cited a “very good working relationship” with Haspel, currently the agency’s deputy director. Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), a red-state Democrat who also sits on the Intelligence panel, said he was “very much open-minded.”

    Even one of the Senate’s harshest critics of “enhanced interrogation techniques” and the architect of the so-called torture report, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), signaled a surprisingly open reception to Haspel that could pull others off the fence.

    “We’ve had dinner together. We have talked. Everything I know is she has been a good deputy director,” Feinstein said on Tuesday, adding, “I think, hopefully, the entire organization learned something from the so-called enhanced interrogation program.”

    Feinstein in 2013 blocked Haspel’s promotion to run clandestine operations at the agency over her role in interrogations at a CIA “black site” prison and the destruction of videotapes documenting the waterboarding sessions of an al Qaeda suspect there.

Did you catch that? Feinstein blocked Haspel in 2013, but now, under Trump, she’s open to an even bigger promotion.

    A few lawmakers have come out in opposition to Haspel – most prominently Paul and Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Elizabeth Warren  (D-Mass.) – but it’s unclear how much influence they will wield. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday that he is not whipping votes to oppose Haspel.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet “the resistance.”

It’d be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

To be fair, Schumer does have some concerns with regard to Pompeo. He might not be belligerent enough toward Russia.

    But Democrats stressed on Tuesday that their previous support for Pompeo did not automatically mean they would support him to be secretary of State.

    Schumer noted he wants to know if the former House member will be tougher on Russia if he’s confirmed to be the country’s top diplomat.

You seriously can’t make this stuff up. Furthermore, don’t forget 14 Democrats supported Pompeo for CIA director back in 2016, and Democrats also supported increased surveillance powers for Trump earlier this year. I find it fascinating that when it comes to mass surveillance and torture, suddenly the Democrats don’t want to “resist.”

Meanwhile, across the Washington D.C. cesspool hordes of “respected leaders” are vigorously defending Gina Haspel using the same defense used by actual Nazi war criminals after WWII.

From The Intercept:

    During the Nuremberg Trials after World War II, several Nazis, including top German generals Alfred Jodl and Wilhelm Keitel, claimed they were not guilty of the tribunal’s charges because they had been acting at the directive of their superiors.

    Ever since, this justification has been popularly known as the “Nuremberg defense,” in which the accused states they were “only following orders.”

    The Nuremberg judges rejected the Nuremberg defense, and both Jodl and Keitel were hanged. The United Nations International Law Commission later codified the underlying principle from Nuremberg as “the fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

    This is likely the most famous declaration in the history of international law and is as settled as anything possibly can be.

    However, many members of the Washington, D.C. elite are now stating that it, in fact, is a legitimate defense for American officials who violate international law to claim they were just following orders…

    Haspel oversaw a secret “black site” in Thailand, at which prisoners were waterboarded and subjected to other severe forms of abuse. Haspel later participated in the destruction of the CIA’s videotapes of some of its torture sessions. There is informed speculation that part of the CIA’s motivation for destroying these records may have been that they showed operatives employing torture to generate false “intelligence” used to justify the invasion of Iraq.

    John Kiriakou, a former CIA operative who helped capture many Al Qaeda prisoners, recently said that Haspel was known to some at the agency as “Bloody Gina” and that “Gina and people like Gina did it, I think, because they enjoyed doing it. They tortured just for the sake of torture, not for the sake of gathering information.” (In 2012, in a convoluted case, Kiriakou pleaded guilty to leaking the identity of a covert CIA officer to the press and spent a year in prison.)

    One who paraphrased it is Michael Hayden, former director of both the CIA and the National Security Agency. In a Wednesday op-ed, Hayden endorsed Haspel as head of the CIA, writing that “Haspel did nothing more and nothing less than what the nation and the agency asked her to do, and she did it well.”

    John Brennan, who ran the CIA under President Barack Obama, made similar remarks on Tuesday when asked about Haspel. The Bush administration had decided that its torture program was legal, said Brennan, and Haspel “tried to carry out her duties at CIA to the best of her ability, even when the CIA was asked to do some very difficult things.”

    Texas Republican Rep. Will Hurd used the precise language of the Nuremberg defense during a Tuesday appearance on CNN when Wolf Blitzer asked him to respond to a statement from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.: “The Senate must do its job in scrutinizing the record and involvement of Gina Haspel in this disgraceful program.”

    Hurd, a member of the House Intelligence Committee and a former CIA operative as well, told Blitzer that “this wasn’t Gina’s idea. She was following orders. … She implemented orders and was doing her job.”

Bipartisan support of torture using a literal Nazi defense. Unfortunately, I’m not even surprised.

Now here’s the best part…

    Notably, Blitzer did not have any follow-up questions for Hurd about his jarring comments.

Gotta love CNN.

Fortunately, there’s a small flicker of actual resistance to Trump’s shameless neocon pivot. It just happens to be coming from Rand Paul.

He held a press conference on the matter, which I suggest everyone watch in full.

As if all of this isn’t concerning enough, something Jeremy Scahill said in a recent Democracy Now interview really shook me. I discussed it on Twitter earlier today.

    In a recent Democracy Now interview, @jeremyscahill said something that’s haunted me for the last 24 hours.
    He posits Trump doesn’t actually want Haspel, he wants Tom Cotton for CIA.
    So he puts up Haspel, knowing they’ll be a fight and then he gets Cotton through easy.

    — Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) March 15, 2018

    Tom Cotton would round out the war soldiers Trump wants around him for Iran war push. As I’ve warned for years, Cotton is a dangerous lunatic.
    Cotton and Pompeo are cut from the same cloth.
    Not good.

    — Michael Krieger (@LibertyBlitz) March 15, 2018

See how this works? We lose either way.

In fact, I find Cotton so dangerous, I specially singled him out in last year’s post, Expect Desperate and Insane Behavior From Government in 2018 – Part 3 (War):

    While I’m already sufficiently concerned about the likelihood of another stupid escalation in the Middle East by Trump, there are milestones I’m looking out for to let me know it’s about to get really bad. At the core of any major disaster will be Senator Tom Cotton, a rabid neocon who I unequivocally believe is the most dangerous, anti-freedom person in the U.S. Congress. He reminds me of an American Mohamed bin Salman, and his elevated prominence around Trump earlier this year is what got me increasingly concerned in the first place.

    If Cotton takes on a more senior role in the Trump administration, such as a rumored position as CIA director, you can bet the farm that U.S. foreign policy is about to take the most dangerous turn since George W. Bush. Tom Cotton is a neocon on steroids, and seems to genuinely love conflict and authoritarianism. To get a better sense of what sort of person he is, take a look at him taking Twitter legal counsel to task. He believes U.S. companies act as an active arm of state intelligence.

What’s going on here is crystal clear. Trump’s setting up a war cabinet because he wants to go to war, and his administration will soon be dominated by the exact same neocon lunatics his populist supporters wanted to get away from in the first place.

As the saying goes, “if voting made a difference, they’d make it illegal.”

Brace yourselves, the war sales job is imminent and it’s going to be relentless.

If you liked this article and enjoy my work, consider becoming a monthly Patron, or visit our Support Page to show your appreciation for independent content creators.

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

Marathon Man Newz / Stormy Times For The Donald
« on: March 15, 2018, 01:23:02 PM »
Stormy Daniels is the Anti-Monica.  I thought from the get-go Trump should have used the Andrew Dice Clay line and said,"Yeah....I fucked her."

It'll be fun to see him wiggle out of this one. Good luck, Mr. President.


Stormy Daniels is crushing President Trump at his own game

Lili Loofbourow

President Trump made shamelessness into a political tool. In Stormy Daniels, he's met his match.

The porn star has turned to the courts to invalidate a hush agreement, signed 10 days before the 2016 presidential election, that prevents her from disclosing details and documents pertaining to an alleged affair between herself and the president over a decade ago. The president's attorney, Michael Cohen, has admitted to "facilitating" a payment of $130,000 to Daniels just a few days before the election. Daniels (who had already given an interview to In Touch) wants to be released from an agreement that she says was never valid since the person named in the agreement (one "David Dennison") never actually signed it. She has offered to return the alleged hush money in full — and not to Cohen, or the shell company he used to pay her — but to Trump himself. Now it's being reported that a second Trump Organization attorney has been involved in the legal battle against her, further undercutting Cohen's claims that neither the president nor his company have been connected to the payment.

One remarkable feature of Stormy Daniels' chess match with Trump is that shame — this White House's usual instrument against its adversaries — isn't working. Porn stars don't find shame especially useful, and Daniels is no exception. This poses a problem for the president: Daniels (aka Stephanie Gregory Clifford) is utterly unembarrassed about profiting off her connection to him. She's unembarrassed in general. As the president's most virulent defenders have come after her, she's parried their attacks with jokes that defang them. Cracks about her age earn GILF humor, cracks about her being a prostitute have her crowing with glee. She's so good at this that her attackers often end up deleting their tweets; it's just not worth it.

The entire Trump playbook — imply that an enemy's motives are shameful, dishonest, and not what they claim — falls apart when they have no interest in seeming better than they are. Daniels is open about the fact that her motive is money. Just as Trump has always been. He's every bit as flummoxed by her shamelessness as others are by his. Rumors that Trump's attorney Michael Cohen might try to quash Daniels' upcoming interview with 60 Minutes smack of desperation (one is reminded, in fact, of Trump's opponents flailing in the primaries).

If shamelessness is Trump's weapon of choice, it's also his Achilles heel. Stormy Daniels won't let this story drop, she's smart enough to hire great lawyers, and she's set up a legal conundrum that lands the president in a world of trouble no matter how he responds.

How? In their Opening Arguments podcast, Andrew Torrez and Thomas Smith parse how Daniels' suit to invalidate the nondisclosure agreement (which she signed, but Trump didn't) boxes the president in. According to Torrez, the issue isn't whether Trump signed the NDA at all; the point is rather to force Trump to respond, because any response at all damages him.

Option A: He can claim that he is in fact the other party in the NDA (pseudonymously referred to as "David Dennison"). That would entitle him to the benefits of the NDA — it might keep Stormy Daniels from sharing the information she has — but it would effectively confirm that the contents of the NDA, many details of which are now public thanks to Daniels' suit, apply to the president of the United States.

That would be a disaster. Trump's story up to this point is that he had no relationship with Daniels and that his attorney (using a Trump Organization email and through a shell company he set up two weeks before the election) merely "facilitated" a transfer of funds to her on his own initiative, and for unspecified reasons. If Trump claims the benefit of the NDA, that story blows up. And this becomes the story of a massive coverup.

Besides pinning many of the more startling contents of the NDA to him, the admission that Trump is David Dennison would confirm that the candidate was fully aware of this illegal use of campaign funds. Whatever plausible deniability Michael Cohen tries to establish for Trump by claiming he acted on his own won't last: As Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti explains in this interview with Ari Melber, Michael Cohen is bound by a professional code that requires him to keep his client informed of important, complex legal documents being prepared on his behalf. If Cohen seriously tries to claim he kept Trump in the dark, his career is over.

If Trump admits he is "David Dennison," Torrez adds, "then asking your lawyer to draft this document is a crime in several ways." For one thing, it's failure to disclose a campaign contribution.

    We know 52 USC 30101 Subsection 8 defines contribution as including "anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office." Keeping a porn star silent about your affair with them a week and a half before the election is very obviously a thing of value. [Opening Arguments]

Option B would be for Trump to deny that he's David Dennison. That would liberate Stormy Daniels to share whatever she has, and since the settlement mentions "artistic media, impressions, paintings, video images, still images, email messages, text messages, Instagram message [sic], facebook [sic] posting or any other type of creation by DD," the mind boggles at what that might include. It follows that whatever Daniels has in her possession would probably depict (and possibly incriminate) whomever appears in them.

It's a remarkable bit of jiu-jitsu, and it's powered entirely by Daniels' imperviousness to the public relations concerns that have hamstrung other women who've tried to come forward about their experiences with the president.

Many of the women alleging that Trump victimized them (which Daniels, by the way, does not) have proceeded by insisting on their own respectability: They want nothing from him; they simply spoke up because they'd been harassed or assaulted by a presidential candidate, and they wanted to do the right thing. The Trump campaign's response was to characterize his accusers as attention-hungry profit-seekers. In one case, he implied that she was too ugly to harass.

Stormy Daniels is immune to these attacks. Just as Trump bragged about not paying a dime in taxes — "that makes me smart," he said during one presidential debate — Daniels is open about her desire to profit. Why wouldn't she? She says she has a story to sell, and she's 100 percent open about her desire to sell it. She's the only person in this story as shameless as the president himself. And the White House is reeling as a result.

It's a truism at this point that Trump benefited from a tiresome double standard. The reality TV star entered an electoral landscape filled with intelligent and image-conscious suits who understood respectability as the sine qua non of political viability. Trump refused to be respectable. He embraced his image as a corny, narcissistic, overtanned procurer of women's bodies, and twirled and winked at the mountain of crimes and improprieties he stood accused of. It worked: No single charge could stick for very long. Particularly — and this is the nub — because he didn't seem to mind. For a scandal to stick to someone, they have to worry about it. Trump may talk endlessly about people "laughing" at the United States, but when it comes to his own image, he has the lifelong rich man's imperviousness to the opinions of the poor. That has protected him from scandal. His narcissism only extends to those he sees as equals or superiors; everyone else is expendable.

He has enjoyed an enormous advantage, therefore, over people, particularly politicians, who see the public as equals whose good opinion they crave. And he's effortlessly "dunked" on those who try to seem better than they are by frequently going out of his way to seem worse. (Just recently, he did a parody of what a "typical" president might say at a rally. Then he brought what — by this strange metric — counts as "the goods": He insulted the IQ of a black congresswoman, implied he had dirt on Oprah, tried to saddle Chuck Todd with a nickname, and said the word "Obama" a bunch of times because it got the crowd riled up.)

The trouble with Trump's antics is that they only work if his is the only game in town. It's easy to imagine Stormy Daniels rolling her eyes at the amateurishness of his act. When it comes to America's rogues' gallery, the porn star will always trump the reality star.

That might deliver poetic justice, or even, if this suit works, the real thing.

So, a hole opens up in the fuselage of a Russian plane and a cargo of gold, gems and precious metals rains down into the snow. They RECOVERED 3.4 TONS of bullion. Great pics on ZH.

The article says the ground crew were "detained". I'll bet.

With 21 billion rubles worth of cargo, what do you think the consequences might be? No vodka tonight.

Marathon Man Newz / Officer Friendly Fires a Warning Shot
« on: March 14, 2018, 02:31:32 PM »
California was not the place to have this kind of accident.

Teacher Accidentally Fires Gun; At Least 1 Student Injured

Dennis Alexander was reportedly teaching a lesson on 'public safety' at a Calif. high school

By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2018 8:51 AM CDT


(Newser) – As a controversial idea to arm teachers is pushed, and students gear up for gun control demonstrations across the nation, a California story lends unsettling context. Per KSBW, a teacher at Seaside High School in Monterey County (also 2013's reserve officer of the year for the Sand City PD and trained in firearms, per the Washington Post) was demonstrating "public safety" Tuesday for his administration of justice class with a semiautomatic handgun. But as Dennis Alexander was handling the weapon, it fired while pointed upward, sending the bullet ricocheting off the ceiling, Seaside Police Chief Abdul Pridgen tells the Monterey Herald. Pridgen says one student suffered non-life-threatening wounds to his neck from either falling debris or "fragmentation"—not from a bullet, per the Monterey County Weekly—and that class went on after the dust literally settled.

KSBW reports two other students also had minor injuries. "It's the craziest thing. It could have been very bad," the dad of the 17-year-old student with the hurt neck says, adding school officials never checked to see if any students were injured, and that he and his son's mother were the ones who noticed his bloody shirt and neck injuries when he got home. Alexander, meanwhile, who's been a reserve officer for 11 years, has been placed on leave from both the school and the Sand City PD. "I have concerns about why he was displaying a loaded firearm in a classroom," that department's chief says. Seaside's Pridgen tells the Herald: "We're looking into any violation of city ordinance or the penal code and we'll determine whether or not there are any applicable charges." KSBW notes California teachers aren't allowed to bring firearms into classrooms, even with concealed carry permits.

Texas has switched back to Daylight Saving Time and I am once again driving to work in the dark. The stars were still out this morning when I left the house in the canyon and began my 28 mile commute to work, the first 20 miles or so I now achieve under eV power. It is now high spring in central Texas, and we have stopped using heat for the most part, but this morning the house was chilly with the clear morning temps of 39F.

I enjoy my coffee, which is fresh ground and liberally doctored with organic half and half. Delicious. My Chevy Volt has seat heaters, and they feel great in the crisp chill, especially on my back, which is still recovering from last Thursday's job of moving the stock tank. Some ibuprofen helps a lot. I remember my friend Artie, who has passed on now.  Artie was an ex-marathon runner who skied his last several years on two artificial hip replacements, with the help of that ubiquitous non-steroidal pain killer. He referred to it as I-Be-Ski-In.

I am at work now and sipping coffee between patients. Yesterday was a tough, busy day, but it looks like today will be easier. Still busy, because it's Spring Break here. I'm hungry, because I was so tired after work I ate a hamburger I picked up before I got home, and crawled into bed and slept until my wife got home around ten pm. I sat up in bed for an hour-and-a half and then passed out again until my normal time to rise, which is 5:45 am. When she came to bed, she brought the dogs, who were happy to lie quietly at our feet until I put them to bed and turned out the lights.

I have been blessed to live an easy life, full of abundance. I have a great family, with grown children who are getting along well in life. By all normal measures of success, I have it made,

But the world is definitely going to shit. The handwriting is on the wall for anyone with one eye and half a brain to see.  My country, which has long been blessed with the same kind of luck as me, is now in the death-throes of a dying empire. Led by a morally bankrupt blowhard who has hitched his wagon to the absolute worst of the low-grade fossil fuel barons of industry, every day the downward spiral speeds up.

The modest environmental protections of a generation ago, which never were strong, are being rolled back as completely as the courts will allow. The executive branch of government is now as firmly owned by the corporatocracy as is the legislative branch. The President, whose primary concern is winning the next election (while patting himself continuously on the back for winning the last one), has managed to run off the best of his sorry cabinet picks and bring the worst ones to positions of highest authority.

We have been a nation at war somewhere for many years now, if you can call illegitimate occupations of poor but strategically important nations war. Our wars are really just expensive occupations that drain the treasury of our once financially strong country. They make some greedy rich bastards a little richer, and the rest of us and our children and grandchildren yet unborn, a lot poorer.

At the moment, we are once again on the cusp of a coming World War, which I expect to be partially fought, at least, on American soil. This development will no doubt surprise the general public, which has not experienced such a disaster in modern times, and thinks of wars as unfortunate events, caused by foreign bad guys, that thankfully always happen far away in places they can't quite manage to even pinpoint on a map.

Under-educated but nevertheless highly opinionated, Americans spend a lot of time online these days spouting whatever kind of closely held beliefs they cling to in lieu of facts and reality. Clever politicians and media barons manipulate public opinion seemingly at will. War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.

The climate, affected by massive CO2 build-up from burning fossil fuels, is rapidly going rogue. The oceans are dying. 150 to 200  species of plant and animal  become extinct each and every day that rolls. We are not immune. Our time is coming. Ironically, the only possible salvation appears to be a systemic collapse of civilization that removes the offending pollution by sending us back to the days of horses and buggies, or maybe human powered pull-carts with wooden wheels. Due to the financialization and hollowing out of the real economy, this is also quite likely to happen some fine day very soon. Unfortunately, it will not stop the climate change on a short timeline. By the time the planet recovers,humans and most living things might well be history.

So....most days I dream of leaving my easy life behind. I fantasize about buying a big sailboat and living out my last days living onboard, Sailing to the islands I love, and then if and when the collapse does come, trying to find some out-of-the-way place far from wars and dying cities, to try to make a go of it in what will truly be a New World.

It's quite the dichotomy, this modern life. So many good things have come my way. So many bad things just over the horizon. And, of course, one can see that those two sides of the coin are completely related. So much of what I enjoy comes at the expense of some poor sod eking out a miserable existence in some shithole country that wasn't a shithole until the corporate barons who run the world turned it into one, in the pursuit of selling me stuff like nice cars with seat heaters, and good coffee.

Certain concerned scientists and poets have long known this was coming. I am blessed and cursed to live on the cusp of a great unraveling. I am literally living on the very brink. I weep for my children.

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Marathon Man Newz / The Austin Bomber
« on: March 13, 2018, 09:48:13 AM »
I missed the first bombing, which happened a couple of weeks ago, apparently on March 2nd. It was reported intially as a "suspicious death, and not a bombing.

These last two got my attention.

Police say the bombings are linked. Duh.

I have changed my mind about it being some transient in town for the SXSW festival, because of the timing of the first explosion, and...the pattern of WHERE these bombs have been planted.

Austin is not as segregated racially as it once was, but the East Side has a history of being the black part of town, and some pockets of it are very old Hispanic neighborhoods as well.

The neighborhoods and houses the bomber is picking are not slums. They are now mostly very mixed neighborhoods of modest but well kept homes.

All the homes targeted were well kept and in good repair and looked exactly like the adjacent homes. Nothing to make them stand out. Modest bungalows with small yards.

I bet he doesn't necessarily even know he's been targeting blacks and hispanics. If he does know, it's because he has some kind of local information, like he's the paper boy, or some other menial delivery type who visits these neighborhoods. In fact, I wonder if the victims all take the local paper. If he isn't the paper boy, then maybe he's some kind of appliance repairman or yard man, or some other" "invisible" loser.

The bombings are spread along a north/south corridor that is conspicuously convenient to a major traffic artery  (Airport BLVD) that would be used regularly by anyone making deliveries in these East Side neighborhoods.

The first bombing was near the north end of the artery in a newish neighborhood of lower end tract houses that are probably mostly owner occupied. The second and third bombings were close to each other at the southern end of the same stretch of what I'd call Mid-East inner city Austin.

So I think he's local, and either lives on that side of town or works there regularly.

Marathon Man Newz / Texas Political Divide Could Not Be Wider
« on: March 10, 2018, 11:03:42 AM »
My wife just pointed out to me the stark contrast in this last week's ballot initiatives in the respective Republican and Democratic primaries.

One thing is sure. There are clear choices.

Here's the Republican list:

Texas should replace the property tax system with an appropriate consumption tax equivalent. Yes/No

No governmental entity should ever construct or fund construction of toll roads without voter approval. Yes/No

Republicans in the Texas House should select their Speaker nominee by secret ballot in a binding caucus without Democrat influence. Yes/No

Texas should require employers to screen new hires through the free E-Verify system to protect jobs for legal workers. Yes/No

Texas families should be empowered to choose from public, private, charter, or homeschool options for their children’s education, using tax credits or exemptions without government constraints or intrusion. Yes/No

Texas should protect the privacy and safety of women and children in spaces such as bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers in all Texas schools and government buildings. Yes/No

I believe abortion should be abolished in Texas. Yes/No

Vote fraud should be a felony in Texas to help ensure fair elections. Yes/No

Texas demands that Congress completely repeal Obamacare. Yes/No

To slow the growth of property taxes, yearly revenue increases should be capped at 4%, with increases in excess of 4% requiring voter approval. Yes/No

Tax dollars should not be used to fund the building of stadiums for professional or semi-professional sports teams. Yes/No

Now, here's the Democratic primary ballot initiatives.

2018 Democratic Primary Ballot Propositions:

Prop #1 on a Right to a 21st Century Public Education

Should everyone in Texas have the right to quality public education from pre-k to 12th grade, and affordable college and career training without the burden of crushing student loan debt?

Prop #2 on Student Loan Debt

Should everyone in Texas have the right to refinance student loan debt with the Federal Reserve at a 0% interest rate, as relief for the crushing burden of debt and an investment in the next generation of Americans?

Prop #3 on a Right to Healthcare

Should everyone in Texas have a right to healthcare, guaranteed by a universal, quality Medicare-for-all system?

Prop #4 on a Right to Economic Security

Should everyone in Texas have the right to economic security, where all workers have earned paid family and sick leave and a living wage that respects their hard work?

Prop #5 on a National Jobs Program

Should the Democratic Party promote a national jobs program, with high wage and labor standards, to replace crumbling infrastructure and rebuild hurricane damaged areas, paid for with local, state, and federal bonds financed through the Federal Reserve at low interest with long term maturities?

Prop #6 on a Right to Clean Air, Safe Water, and a Healthy Environment

Should everyone in Texas have the right to clean air, safe water, and a healthy environment?

Prop #7 on a Right to Dignity & Respect

Should everyone in Texas have the right to a life of dignity and respect, free from discrimination and harassment anywhere, including businesses and public facilities, no matter how they identify, the color of their skin, who they love, socioeconomic status, or from where they come?

Prop #8 on a Right to Housing

Should everyone in Texas have the right to affordable and accessible housing and modern utilities including high speed internet, free from any form of discrimination?

Prop #9 on a Right to Vote

Should every eligible Texan have the right to vote, made easier by automatic voter registration, the option to vote by mail, a state election holiday, and no corporate campaign influence, foreign interference, or illegal gerrymandering?

Prop #10 on a Right to a Fair Criminal Justice System

Should everyone in Texas have the right to a fair criminal justice system that treats people equally and puts an end to the mass incarceration of young people of color for minor offenses?

Prop #11 on Immigrant Rights

Should there be a just and fair comprehensive immigration reform solution that includes an earned path to citizenship for law-abiding immigrants and their children, keeps families together, protects DREAMers, and provides workforce solutions for businesses?

Prop #12 a Right to Fair Taxation

Should everyone in Texas have the right to a fair tax system, where all interests (business, corporations, and individuals) pay their share, so that state government meets its obligations?

The Republicans, with their dark money and gerrymandering, have taken Texas politics by storm. But my guess is that if Democrats could get out their vote, that far more regular citizens by sheer numbers favor their agenda. If the Hispanic sleeping giant ever wakes up and hits the polls, the political poles could shift very dramatically, in my view.

Marathon Man Newz / Total Rabbit Hole
« on: March 07, 2018, 06:31:59 PM »
I found this pretty randomly, following an AG link that wasn't related to this specifically. It's a leftist black writer who has some interesting things to say about that Black Panther Movie. This guy gets it. I'm going to link it cause I'm late for dinner.

Marathon Man Newz / Carl Icahn Denies Insider Trading
« on: March 07, 2018, 06:27:11 PM »
Any suggestion that we had prior knowledge of the Trump administration's announcement of new tariffs on steel imports is categorically untrue. We reduced our position in Manitowoc for legitimate investment reasons having nothing to do with that announcement," the statement read.

I think selling stock before it drops appreciably is a very legitimate investment reason, it's just the timing that seems phenomenally fortuitous..

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