Jan 18, 2017
Like nearly everybody else in her profession, film actress Zoe Saldana is a devoted and outspoken liberal. Unlike most of her peers, however, she does not see Donald Trump’s election as an harbinger of the apocalypse, and insists that the Hollywood-centered Left needs to learn from that part of the American population that supported Trump.
“We got cocky and became arrogant and we also became bullies,” reflects Saldana, whose film credits include the Star Trek, Avatar, and Guardians of the Galaxy series. “We were trying to single out a man for all the things he was doing wrong – and that created empathy in a big group of people in America that felt bad for him and that are believing in his promises.”
In contrast to many who share her political views, Saldana says she is learning from Trump’s victory “with a lot of humility. … I just say he’s now elected and we as a country need to support whoever’s the president because that’s what the country’s based on. However that happened, he’s there, and let’s go.”
In her most recent film, “Live by Night,” the Dominican-American actress plays the consort of a Cuban gangster during the Prohibition era – a time when many police officials and judges publicly touted their affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan. Once again distinguishing herself from the hyperventilating Hollywood Left, Saldana insists that “If we have people continue to be strong and educate ourselves and stand by equal rights and treat everyone with respect, we won’t go back to those times.”
Jan 18, 2017
It is a Newtonian principle of politics that every radical action generates an equally radical opposite reaction, and the ongoing plague of political correctness is no exception to this rule. A bill introduced by two Republican legislators in Arizona would ban any courses or events in state-funded colleges that promote the concept of “social justice” or identity politics.
State Representative Bob Thorpe, co-sponsor of the bill, told a Tucson newspaper that the measure was inspired by an Arizona State University class on “Whiteness and Race Theory.”
“If you … look at an individual whose ancestors, because of their race … are linked to people that did something 100 to 200 years ago, that person who’s living today has little or no association with what happened 200 years ago,” Thorpe contends. “So let’s not have a wedge issue and cause that person to be vilified when they absolutely had nothing to do with some event that happened in the past.”
The proposed bill would not only impose restrictions on classroom curricula, but also ban “events or activities” that, among other things, are seen as promoting “division” or the “overthrow” of the federal government. Reason magazine commentator Anthony L. Fisher warns the bill’s sponsors that this clause of the bill “would probably not be of great benefit to the free speech rights of Second Amendment die-hards who frequently argue that the right to bear arms was always meant as a bulwark against a tyrannical government.”
Jan 18, 2017
Hillary Clinton “is the rightful president-elect, and courts must use their broad discretionary powers with which they are vested to enjoin an illegitimate president from taking office,” pleaded Huffington Post contributor Alex Mohajer, a self-described “political writer and commentator” who has also built a career at the periphery of Hollywood. Giving voice to the fantasy-derived hopes of a small, embittered fringe, Mohajer is demanding that the federal court system intervene prior to the Inauguration by ordering a new election.
In urging unprecedented judicial intervention, Mohajer – who claims to have a juris doctor degree – doesn’t cite the text of the Constitution. Instead he contends that “federal courts are vested with broad discretionary powers” in shaping “equity decrees.”
“While true that a presidential election has never been overturned, cases like Donohue v. Board of Elections, which arose from the 1976 presidential election, have ruled that the authority exists to order a special election, even at the presidential level.” A federal ruling in the 1994 case Marks v. Stinson resulted in the removal of a sitting state senator after the winning candidate was implicated in voter fraud. Neither of those cases offers a precedent suitable for the arguments made by Mohajer and his comrades, as there is no evidence that Trump benefited from irregularities or foreign interference in the voting process itself – even if we were to accept the still-unproven assertion that the Russian government was behind the damaging email leaks from the DNC’s email servers.
Mohajer’s frenzied polemic urges Americas to “resist our tendency to force closure” – which is to say, he – like others of his persuasion – intends to nurture this grievance during Trump’s entire tenure in office.
Jan 18, 2017
The Marxist government of Venezuela began issuing new currency notes on January 16 to replace the 100-bolivar bill, which has been made worthless through hyperinflation. At the time it was phased out, the 100-bolivar note, formerly the highest denomination in circulation, was worth a little less than three cents on the country’s black market – which, as is always the case in a state-dominated society, is the only place a functioning economy exists.
“I never thought I’d have such a big bill in my hands,” exclaimed 35-year-old sales clerk Milena Molina, as she examined a small handful of newly minted 500-bolivar notes she had retrieved from an ATM. “But with the inflation we’re suffering, the notes we had weren’t worth anything and you always had to go around with huge packages of bills.”
The new soon-to-be-worthless official Venezuela government scrip is issued in denominations ranging from 500 to 20,000 bolivars, and at the time of issue the highest-denomination was worth roughly $5.60 on the black market. Most of the larger bills were not available on the first day, and one bank where the 500 bolivar notes were available exhausted its supply within a few hours. Elsewhere anxious Venezuelans queued up at ATMs in the hope of withdrawing sufficient currency to meet their needs during the brief interval in which they will retain their spending power.
With the country’s inflation rate expected to hit four digits this year, the government of socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro reportedly is preparing to order another batch of currency with at least one more zero.
Jan 18, 2017
The agency known as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (commonly called the ATF) was born as the Bureau of Prohibition – a brief experiment in federal behavior control that was made possible by the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution. When that amendment was repealed, the agency lost any claim to legal legitimacy – yet rather than being abolished, it was rechristened and given an even more expansive mandate.
Over the past 25 years, the ATF has been consistently mired in misconduct, often of a murderous nature. The April 1993 slaughter of the Branch Davidians in their sanctuary outside Waco, Texas began with an unnecessary ATF armed raid called “Operation Showtime” – which was staged to deflect attention from an internal corruption scandal. More recently the agency was involved in the “Operation Fast and Furious” imbroglio, in which it pressured federally licensed gun dealers to sell weapons to agents of Mexican cartels in a supposed sting operation.
No provision of the US Constitution authorizes any agency of the federal government to regulate alcohol, tobacco, or explosives, and the Second Amendment explicitly forecloses federal infringement of the right to own and carry firearms. This means that the ATF is literally a bastard agency carrying out an illegitimate mission. Wisconsin Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner has proposed a bill called the ATF Elimination Act that would impose an immediate hiring freeze at the agency and order its administrators to prepare a report on transferring its existing functions to the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and other departments.
“The ATF is a scandal-ridden, largely duplicative agency that has been branded by failure and lacks a clear mission,” declares Representative Sensenbrenner. Abolishing the ATF would be “a logical place to begin draining the swamp and acting in the best interest of the American Taxpayer,” he insists.
Jan 18, 2017
The Bureau of Land Management has announced that more than 100,000 acres of federally controlled lands in southwest Oregon will be withdrawn from development for at least 20 years. The affected acreage is found in Josephine and Curry counties.
According to the AP, the order, which was issued by the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management, “withdraws these lands from settlement, sale, location, and entry” under federal statutes dealing with public lands and mining operations. The new restrictions, which purportedly protect watersheds from potentially adverse effects of commercial development, apply to mining claims and geothermal leases. Congress will use the 20-year-period to examine potential legislation that would make those restrictions permanent.
According to the BLM, the withdrawal “does not prohibit or restrict any other authorized uses on these lands, including “ongoing or future mining exploration or extraction operations on valid pre-existing mining claims.”
In defiance of constitutional restrictions on federal land ownership, the central government claims control over more than one-half of the land in the State of Oregon – including more than ninety percent of the acreage in the state’s south-east corner.
Jan 18, 2017
Idaho State Representative Heather Scott was removed from her committee assignments after making disparaging comments suggesting that female legislators could only obtain leadership positions in exchange for sexual favors. In a gesture of support for Scott, five other members of the state House of Representatives asked to be removed from their committee assignments.
The comments that prompted the punishment were made not in a public forum, but in a private conversation that was overheard by colleagues and then related to House Speaker Scott Bedke by state representative Christy Perry – who last year was exposed having an extra-marital affair with state senator Jim Guthrie.
“I’m deeply concerned about the integrity of this body and mixed messages being sent to the communities of Idaho,” protested State Representative Ron Nate, a Republican from Rexburg.
Representatives Scott and Nate are part of an informal grassroots caucus in the State Legislature that often finds itself at odds with the state’s dominant Republican establishment.
Scott has suggested that Bedke opportunistically sanctioned her as an act of retaliation. “It is probably no coincidence that the latest 'stir' from within the catacombs of 'leadership' comes on the heels of the recently published freedom web site to keep better tabs on legislation and legislators,” she declared shortly after being purged from her committee appointments.
Jan 18, 2017
Ernesto Fonseca Carrillo, the imprisoned co-founder of Mexico’s Guadalajara narcotics syndicate, has been ordered by a Mexican federal judge to pay $1 million in compensation to the families DEA agent Enrique Camarena and a Mexican official, who were kidnaped, tortured, and murdered in 1985. The order dictates that roughly $500,000 be paid to Camerena’s son, and an identical amount to the wife and five children of the Mexican pilot who was killed with him.
Fonseca, who is 86 and in poor health, is serving a 40-year sentence for his role in the murders, as is fellow crime boss Miguel Angel Felix Gallardo. Cartel co-founder Rafael Caro Quintero was also convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison, but was “mistakenly” set free in 2013, and is currently at large.
Former bodyguard Rene Lopez Romero, who was a key witness for the prosecution, testified that he saw “two Mexican Cabinet members and the governor of the state of Jalisco enter or leave two meetings” where the kidnapping and murder of Camarena was being planned, summarized a December 1992 Los Angeles Times account of the trial. He also testified that an employee of the US Consulate “pointed out the drug agent” to gunmen for the syndicate, who abducted him and took him away to be tortured and killed.
Jan 18, 2017
For decades, the government of The Netherlands has actively encouraged euthanasia for people suffering from incurable diseases, and from degenerative conditions associated with aging. It has now introduced a prenatal screening program that will be used to decide which developing children are genetically unfit to live.
Non-Invasive Prenatal Testing, or NIPT, can be used to detect a wide range of chromosomal and genetic variations through a blood test. That procedure is now available to all pregnant Dutch women. Following introduction of the NIPT protocol in Iceland, 100 percent of unborn children diagnosed with Downs syndrome were aborted; in Denmark, the corresponding figure was 98 percent.
During a recent hearing in parliament, members of the Dutch opposition party asked Minister of Health Edith Schippers “if she planned to take any measures to prevent the near elimination of babies with Downs syndrome, which has happened in other countries.”
“If freedom of choice results in a situation that nearly no children with Down syndrome are being born, society should accept that,” replied Schippers, reflecting the eugenicist assumption that the individual right to life is contingent on that life being valued by others. Renate Lindeman of Downpride points out that while the NIPT “can potentially detect hundreds of conditions,” it is being used in a targeted fashion by a “small group of experts” for whom elimination of people with Down syndrome is the “primary goal.”
Jan 18, 2017
The spectacle of Barack Obama conferring the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Vice President Joe Biden moved NBC news personality Matt Lauer to tears. Lauer reportedly signed a contract extension under which he will be paid $20 million a year to recite potted liberal platitudes to a dwindling audience for a dying television network.
"I'm glad there were no cameras in my apartment yesterday because I was just sitting there weeping .... I just burst out crying when I saw that moment,” Lauer said on the “Today” program. NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell professed to be similarly moved by the scene, describing Obama and Biden as having a “bond like we’ve never seen before. At times, more like a White House buddy movie than a political partnership.”
In that “buddy movie,” Biden was the comic relief, an odd but avuncular figure who supposedly transcended partisan politics. However, as National Review recalls, “Biden's career serves as a neat summary for much of the ruthlessness that Americans hate about our government, and he has managed to use his gaffe-prone nature to disguise his record of intense, bitterly partisan politicking.
“This trick was perhaps never more evident than in his egregious treatment of Reagan Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork - whom he successfully prevented from reaching the Court - and his similar but failed effort to prevent Clarence Thomas's confirmation,” continues the publication, referring to the Delaware Democrat’s long term as head of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Biden treated these two men disgracefully and in doing so played a crucial role in distorting our judicial-confirmation process so severely that it will likely never recover. “
Jan 18, 2017
No tangible evidence has ever been presented that the Russian government was behind the computer hack that led to an avalanche of damaging email disclosures about the Clinton presidential campaign. Nonetheless, millions of Americans believe that Clinton’s loss is the direct result of unproven, and unspecified, Russian meddling in the election. This reflects the still-formidable ability of the legacy media to define the public narrative.
The same declassified intelligence report accusing the Russians of infiltrating the DNC’s email server explicitly ruled out actual Russian sabotage of the election, stating that “the types of systems Russian actors [purportedly] targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.” This statement has been ignored by those responsible for propagating the “hacked election” meme.
From December 8 to January 8, analysts at the Media Research Center have documented, reporters and correspondents for ABC, CBS and NBC repeated some variant on the loaded phrase “Russian hacking” at least 49 times in their morning and evening broadcasts. Significantly, mainline media coverage has blurred the distinction between a cyber-attack on the actual voting process – which did not happen, and could not happen in the decentralized US system – and the alleged Russian hack of the DNC email servers – which has never been proven. Those two claims were amalgamated into a single seamless accusation that the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened directly in the election to install Donald Trump – a claim which has since been invoked by dozens of Democratic congressmen who have announced they are boycotting the Inauguration.
Jan 18, 2017
Bernie Sanders is an unabashed socialist, but apparently isn’t a gender revolutionary. During a CNN town hall meeting, correspondent Andrew Cuomo asked the former Democratic presidential contender what he would say to American voters who see that party as “more concerned with what bathroom people go into [than] how they earn a living?”
An ironic smile playing on his features, Sanders replied, “Very fair question.”
That response triggered Graham Vyse of The New Republic magazine, who ranted that “it wasn’t a fair question. It was based on a pernicious premise that the senator should have challenged.”
“Ensuring transgender Americans can use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identities isn’t some tertiary issue,” continue dVyse. “It’s a vital anti-discrimination measure. And, for transgender Americans in the workplace, it’s very much about being treated equally as they earn a living.”
Upbraiding Sanders for displaying inadequate understanding of his revolutionary duty, Vyse protested that during the town hall event, Sanders didn’t “mention bathrooms – or transgender Americans – even once. And he wonders why critics say he only cares about economic issues.”
Jan 17, 2017
The Obama administration’s decision to end the longstanding policy granting automatic residency to Cuban refugees was met with gratitude from the island’s Communist government, concern from the Cuban population, and outrage from many Cuban-Americans.
"Effective immediately, Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal,” declared Obama in announcing the new policy, under which the US will treat “Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries.”
Barack Obama’s announcement that Washington is ending the so-called “wet foot/dry foot” rule for Cuban migration – under which any Cuban who sets foot on US soil is granted refugee status – has left many fleeing Cubans “in limbo,” protested Cuban resident Leonardo Serrano. “They won’t be able to get there, and when they return they won’t have anything” because they have “sold houses [and] renounced everything” before setting out for the United States.
Josefina Vidal, Cuba’s top diplomat for US affairs, applauded Obama’s policy change, saying that the previous refugee posture “was creating serious problems for the security of Cuba, [and] for the security of the United States,” a matter for which the regime in Havana had not previously expressed concern. Many Cuban-Americans suspect that the change was motivated by a desire for political revenge, rather than a move toward normalization of relations with Cuba. Jose Enrique Manresa, a 47-year-old Cuban now stranded in Mexico as a result of the change in immigration policy on Thursday, suggested that the outgoing president's decision is aimed at punishing Cuban-Americans for supporting Trump.
Jan 17, 2017
Militant feminists and other Title IX extremists are among the most strident critics of Betsy DeVos, who was nominated to become the Trump administration’s Secretary of Education, reports Reason magazine
Since Mrs. DeVos has not spoken in detail about her opinions regarding Title IX, her critics are imputing views to her on the basis of the fact that she is a donor to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which has been critical of campus feminism. Lisa Maatz of the American Association of University Women complains that Mrs. DeVos’s donations are “a red flag.”
Jan 17, 2017
Federal control over local law enforcement is both practically unwise and constitutionally impermissible, and is opposed by many police unions and their supporters among law and order conservatives. That opposition, however, is not consistent. Police unions have complained that the Obama administration has hindered police by conducting Justice Department investigations into alleged local police abuse and corruption. But they have also condemned Obama for taking small steps to end federally subsidized transfers of Pentagon war-fighting equipment to local police agencies.
“Whether it’s Baltimore, Cleveland, Ferguson and St. Louis County, or now Chicago, we’ve consistently seen that the cities in which violent crime remains aberrantly high are also served by police departments with long histories of institutional abuse, bigotry and/or corruption, and where transparency and real accountability are close to nonexistent,” Balko elaborates. “There are of course countless variables that contribute to a city’s crime rate. This isn’t the only one. But it’s one that’s chronically overlooked.”
Jan 17, 2017
Following initial moves by the Republican-led Congress to repeal Obamacare, Donald Trump has announced his plan to replace that program with an initiative that would strongly resemble it – and might even impose even more onerous federal burdens on the health care system.
In a telephone interview with the Washington Post, Mr. Trump said that “he is nearing completion of a plan to replace President Obama’s signature health-care law with the goal of `insurance for everybody,’ while also vowing to force drug companies to negotiate directly with the government on prices in Medicare and Medicaid.”
“We’re going to have insurance for everybody,” insisted Trump. “There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can’t pay for it, you don’t get it. That’s not going to happen with us.”
As is his habit, Trump declined to flesh out his grandiose promises with mundane specifics. What he is describing appears to be something very similar to a government-mandated single-payer arrangement, which would involve even more radical government intervention that Obamacare imposed.
Referring to pharmaceutical companies, Trump said that “They’re politically protected, but not anymore.” Despite his reputation for business acumen, Mr. Trump continues to exhibit very little understanding of how the pricing mechanism works – or how government-dictated price controls result in shortages.
Jan 17, 2017
Just as Chicago residents face steep tax increases this year in order to pay the cost of government employee pensions, Californians – who already are among the most over-taxed residents of the U.S. – will probably confront breathtaking new demands from the state’s revenue collectors this year, and for the same reason.
On January 9, California Governor Jerry Brown announced that the state’s General Fund Budget suffers a $1.6 billion deficit – despite increases in tax collection by more than fifty percent over the past nine years. To make up the shortfall, Brown is expected to propose a 42 percent increase in gasoline taxes – and an increase of 141 percent in vehicle registration fees.
This would be a severely regressive tax increase, meaning it would result in disproportionate hardship for low-income California residents. Much of it would be devoted to maintaining the exceptionally lucrative pensions enjoyed by government employees. The governor’s proposed 2017-2018 state budget includes a $524 million increase for the California Public Employee Retirement System, which would be an eleven percent increase over the $5.3 billion spent for that purpose in 2017.
California has a personal tax rate of 13.3 percent – the highest in the nation – and the sixth highest corporate tax rate, which is nearly nine percent. Predictably, the tax and regulatory burden have combined to make the state a net exporter in terms of both personal and business migration.
Jan 17, 2017
Professor Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto became the focus of an international hate campaign because he insists on using clear, proper, respectful English when addressing students and fellow faculty. Because the psychology professor refuses to accommodate the demands of gender revolutionaries, he has been arraigned as a hate criminal by the pronoun police.
“The 54-year-old has been at the center of a debate about gender and free speech ever since he posted videos to YouTube last fall in which he said he would not use the preferred, gender-neutral pronouns of some students and faculty,” reports the Toronto Star, which goes on to explain that what is happening is not a debate, but rather a politically correct inquisition. “The videos drew fire from trans activists, faculty, and student and labor unions. Critics accused Peterson of helping to foster a climate for hate to thrive. Protests, sometimes violent, broke out on campus, and the controversy attracted international media coverage.”
Peterson went public with this resolution because of Bill C-16, a proposed amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act that would outlaw discrimination on the basis of “gender identity” and “gender expression,” and a corresponding “human resources” initiative at the University of Toronto. Dr. Peterson insists that these measures imperil freedom of speech – and the demands that he be censured and suppressed eloquently validate his warnings.
Jan 17, 2017
As it was in the days of decadent late-imperial Rome, contemporary professional sports are a government-subsidized enterprise. Corporate socialism at the municipal and state level is commonplace as owners of sports franchises demand taxpayer support for building and maintaining sports stadiums – often using the threat of moving a beloved team to a different city if those demands aren’t met.
When Dean Spanos, owner of the San Diego Chargers NFL team, issued that threat, tax victims living in that city didn’t blink. As a result, the Chargers are relocating to Los Angeles. They will play at least their first two seasons in a stadium built for that city’s Major League Soccer team.
Given the over-saturated sports market in that city, and the dismal record recently compiled by the Chargers, it is possible that the team might fold or relocate again before getting a stadium of their own. As nationally syndicated radio sports commentator Jim Rome observes, “L.A. doesn’t want the Chargers in L.A. The Rams don’t want the Chargers in L.A. The NFL doesn’t want the Chargers in L.A. And the Chargers really don’t want the Chargers here in L.A.”
Spanos had demanded the construction of a new, $1.2 billion stadium, with the NFL donating roughly one-quarter of that cost. Another $250-300 million was expected to come from corporate naming rights deal. This would have left nearly half of the estimated cost to be paid by the city – which is to say, by those who would be taxed through the city government.
“At the end of the day, the Chargers wanted a lot more taxpayer money than we could have ever agreed to," summarized San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. "We could not support a deal that is not in the best interests of San Diego."
Jan 17, 2017
Many proponents of civilian disarmament insist that only military personnel and law enforcement officers should be permitted to carry firearms. Leaving aside the fact that disarming innocent people leaves them vulnerable to private criminals and abusive state employees, there are times when an armed private citizen will come to the rescue of a law enforcement officer under fire.
NBC News reports that “An armed passing motorist was credited with saving the life of an Arizona state trooper by shooting and killing a gunman who ambushed the trooper in the middle of a lonely interstate highway before dawn” on January 12. The 27-year-veteran trooper was hospitalized with gunshot wounds in his chest and right shoulder after responding to a shots-fired call when he encountered a rollover accident. As he began to lay down emergency flares, the trooper was shot twice and then attacked by an unknown assailant.
A passing motorist who witnessed the attack stopped, drew his personal firearm, and ordered the assailant to stop – and then fatally shot him when he refused.
"I would just say at this point, thank you, because I don't know that my trooper would be alive today without his assistance," Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said after he met with the seriously injured trooper at the hospital. The rescuer was identified as a man traveling to California in the company of his wife.
Jan 17, 2017
Barack Obama has used the closing days of his presidency to expand the powers of the executive branch that his successor will inherit – including the use of covertly intercepted communications by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies, notes the New York Times. The Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government's 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.
“The new rules allow employees doing intelligence work for those agencies to sift through raw data collected under a broad, Reagan-era executive order that gives the NSA virtually unlimited authority to intercept communications abroad,” summarizes The Intercept. “Previously, NSA analysts would filter out information they deemed irrelevant and mask the names of innocent Americans before passing it along.”
Under Executive Order 12333, “the NSA taps phone and internet backbones throughout the world, records the phone calls of entire countries, vacuums up traffic from Google and Yahoo’s data centers overseas, and more.”
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden points out that “As he hands the White House to Trump, Obama just unchained NSA from basic limits on passing raw intercepts to others.”
Jan 17, 2017
He wasn’t selected to be Secretary of State, or head of the Department of Homeland Security, but former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has been rewarded for the canine loyalty he displayed toward Donald Trump on the campaign trail: He will serve as an unofficial adviser to Trump on cybersecurity issues.
Politico points out that “Giuliani chairs the global cybersecurity practice at the law firm Greenberg Traurig, advising companies on security data and responding to breaches.” In addition, through his own Giuliani Partners security consulting firm, he “has worked for cyber-related clients, including identity theft protection company LifeLock and insurance giant Aon.”
The tech news site Gizmodo comments that “Silicon Valley has always had close ties with the US government. But it appears the Trump administration would like to make those ties even more explicit” by appointing Giuliani to head the new task force, which will be “comprised of various private tech companies.”
Motherboard notes that Giuliani appears to have no specialized knowledge in the field of cybersecurity, and his published writings on the subject have focused on complaints regarding privacy regulations.
Jan 17, 2017
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised to reinvigorate coal production as a way to meet the country’s ever-growing energy demands and to reinvigorate employment. That promise explains a great deal of his support in economically struggling coal-producing states. As time expires on Barack Obama’s presidency, however, he has approved a slate of regulations that would hamper Trump’s plans to revive the coal industry.
Bloomberg reports that “The outgoing Obama administration issued a blueprint for overhauling the way coal on federal land is sold, making it tougher for President-elect Donald Trump to resume sales under decades-old procedures. The report released [on January 11] lays out a menu of potential options for policy makers to consider, including tacking a carbon fee onto coal leases to account for climate change, requiring payments into a fund that could help out-of-work miners and devastated communities -- and even halting sales altogether.”
Roughly forty percent of US coal is found on lands claimed by the federal government, much of it in the Powder Basin in Wyoming and Montana. Competition from inexpensive domestic natural gas, coupled with increasing regulatory costs, combined to drive down demand for coal. The Interior Department imposed a halt on issuing new coal mining leases in 2015 amid a lawsuit filed by two eco-radical groups, Friends of the Earth and the Western Organization of Resource Councils. A new set of lawsuits is possible If Trump reverses course and rescinds the ban on coal leases.
Jan 17, 2017
Unconstrained by the prospect of facing the electorate again, Barack Obama unleashed a flurry of late-term executive orders, including national monument designations locking up more than 1.5 million acres in land throughout the western states. This action subverted local control of those lands, and closed down future energy development, uranium mining, oil drilling, natural gas production, and other productive use of the territory.
“While it’s nothing new,” comments MRC-TV, “Obama’s habit of unilaterally confiscating land has ramped up heading into the final stretch of his presidency. In the eight years he’s been in office, President Obama has seized more than 553 million acres of land” – including their associated water resources. This translates into 865,000 square miles of land seized and placed under federal control, which is sufficient “to cover the entire state of Texas more than three times over. This is the largest presidential land grab in US history. “
The 18 U.S. presidents who have held the office since passage of the Antiquities Act of 1906 have issued a total of 154 monument designations. Obama has invoked the act 29 times, meaning that he is personally responsible for about one-fifth of such executive actions over the course of more than 110 years. In 2016 alone, Obama used that provision to lock up more than 260 million acres, including a 100-million acre tract in Alaska that is roughly the size of the state of New Mexico.
Owing to executive actions of this kind, the federal government claims ownership of the majority of acreage in the western United States – including sixty-five percent of the land in Utah, and more than 80 percent of the land in Nevada.
Jan 16, 2017
On January 20th at 12:01 PM Eastern Time, Barack Obama will no longer be invested with the power to lock up federally controlled western lands by decree – and that prospect has clearly inspired him to exploit that power to the fullest extent before leaving office.
Obama issued an order on January 12 expanding the Cascade-Siskiyou national monument by 48,000 acres, thereby building on a previous lame-duck proclamation issued by Bill Clinton in 2000, just before he vacated the White House. This expanded monument encompasses land in Jackson and Klamath counties in Oregon, and California’s Siskiyou County.
In his six-page proclamation, Obama emphasized that the newly enhanced federal monument area “provides vital habitat connectivity.” That phrase is derived from the unratified United Nations Biodiversity Treaty, which was intended to supplant human ownership and use of land with a “biocentric” worldview in which preservation of animal and plant habitat would be treated as a paramount consideration. The UN-aligned non-governmental organizations that helped create the Biodiversity treaty are patiently implementing a scheme called the “Wildlands Project,” which envisions locking up at least half of the surface area of the United States in a series of interconnected biodiversity preserves – with human populations eventually herded into highly regulated urban governments.
Jan 16, 2017
Whenever religious leaders assemble to promote protection for the right to life, the custodians of polite opinion depict such events as a threat to the civic order. No protests of that kind were prompted by a recent assembly of roughly two dozen religious leaders to confer their blessing on the newly completed Planned Parenthood abortuary in Washington, D.C., which is located next to the elite Two Rivers Public Charter School.
Among those in attendance at the ceremony were several self-identified Christian clergy, a rabbi, several Hindu priests, and a Muslim imam who participated via Skype. Prior to the public dedication, the religious representatives participated in what was described as a “prayer circle,” although the identity of the deity to whom the prayer was addressed was not disclosed in press accounts.
According to Laura Myers, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, the decision to kill a developing child is the product of “a sense of deep spirituality.” The dedication of the new abortion mill, she emphasized, was intended to “shift” the public narrative – from emphasizing the sanctity of life to pretending that the destruction of a child is in some sense a sanctified act.
“In almost every message to our staff, I talk about doing our sacred work,” Myers declared. The presence of religious figures at the event, she insisted, “confirms the sacredness of the work we do.”
Jan 16, 2017
In an interview with left-leaning late night host Seth Meyers, Trump transition adviser Kellyanne Conway boasted of what she calls the “Trump Effect.”
“He has major employers deciding to move their factories out of Mexico and back to the United States and keep those jobs here,” Conway asserted, at some expense to the facts. “That’s what leaders do – they do that even before they are sworn in,” she claimed.
Meyers asked Conway if she was “OK with the [President-elect] sort of picking winners and losers in the free market via Twitter – because that seems like what he’s doing sometimes?”
“Not at all,” Conway replied. “What he’s doing is laying down incentives.”
As commentator Rick Miller of the free-market-focused Economic Policy Journal observes, Conway – speaking on behalf of the incoming Trump administration – “is telling us that this administration is not going to allow many individuals to employ their capital as they would like to.”
“The character of the Trump government could be described as proudly interventionist without an identifiable limiting principle,” Miller continues. “Property rights be damned. Trump in his omniscience knows and has always known how to better things for others; he is the personification of Hayek’s ‘fatal conceit.’”
Jan 16, 2017
Adams Lin literally fainted after reading a court order authorizing marshals to seize his car, clothes, flat-screen television, furniture, golf clubs, Samurai sword, fishing rods and computer.
The property was confiscated after Lin’s boss failed to make a $200,000 payment toward the $22.4 million civil damage award granted to a man who was left paralyzed through Lin’s occupational misconduct. Lin’s boss is Palm Beach County, Florida Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, and he has adamantly refused to make payments to Dontrell Stephens, who was shot by Lin after the panicking deputy mistook the 19-year-old’s cell phone for a gun.
“There’s nothing in the rules of engagement that says we have to put our lives in jeopardy to wait and find out what this is and get killed,” whined Sheriff Bradshaw on the day of the shooting. His department quickly exonerated Lin and promoted him – and then video of the encounter was released proving that the victim had never posed a threat to the deputy.
Florida law imposes a cap of $200,000 for civil settlements, which means that the state legislature will have to enact a special appropriation to pay the damage award. Rather than complying with the court order, Bradshaw filed an appeal. After the award was upheld last May, Bradshaw appealed again – which triggered an injunction leading to the seizure of property from the deputy who was directly responsible for the unlawful shooting of an innocent teenager.
Jan 16, 2017
The late pop artist known as Prince was renowned for his apparently inexhaustible talent as a composer, musician, and performer – and for his equally expansive collection of eccentricities. Owing to the fact that he died without adequate provision for the disposal of his estate, the IRS is now greedily taking inventory of the assets he acquired during a long and very productive career. This includes tens of millions of dollars in real estate, a fleet of expensive cars, and a vast catalog of unreleased music the value of which is difficult to calculate.
By one estimate, Prince – who was born Prince Rogers Nelson – owned nearly $300 million in assets, of which the ghoulish IRS is expected to claim roughly half. Perhaps the most intriguing line entry in the late pop star’s portfolio was a collection of 67 10-ounce gold bars that were classified as “Other Personal Property” and valued at more than $800,000. He also had more than $55,000 in cash on hand at the time of his death by a drug overdose.
Prince’s interest in gold reflects his skepticism about banking – and his interest in conspiratorial views of politics, which was shaped in some measure by black activist Dick Gregory. His non-mainstream views included acceptance of conspiracy theories regarding chemtrails and covert efforts to bring about radical depopulation.
Jan 16, 2017
US government agencies, especially at the federal level, have created what could be described as the societal equivalent of a one-way mirror: Every public action and private communication of the citizenry is made transparent, while the most critical deliberations and decisions of the ruling class are made opaque. This is true even of what we are told are public trials. Only a few jurisdictions allow video recordings of trials, and even where this is permitted, only accredited news organizations are allowed to bring cameras into the courtroom.
Michigan resident Robert McKay attempted to record court proceedings on his iPhone but was forbidden to do so by a bailiff. He has filed a petition to the US Supreme Court, insisting that banning the private recording of court proceedings violates rights protected by the First, Fifth, and 14th Amendments.
“Recording and disseminating court proceedings serves the cardinal First Amendment value of protecting and promoting the free discussion of government affairs,” McKay contends in his petition for a Writ of Certiorari.
Because McKay was not directly threatened with prosecution, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed his claims. In his appeal to the Supreme Court, McKay contends that “the mere `existence of a statute’ implies a threat to prosecute,” and cites the 2014 Supreme Court Ruling in Susan B. Anthony List vs Driehaus to bolster his argument that “a plaintiff has standing to request pre-enforcement review of a statute or regulation when circumstances `render the threatened enforcement sufficiently imminent’” to merit judicial consideration.
Jan 16, 2017
McAfee anti-virus system creator John McAfee has presented detailed criticisms of the Obama administration’s claim that a Russian malware program the administration christened “Grizzly Steppe” connects the Russian government to the alleged hacking of DNC emails.
The administration’s theory focuses on four elements: The presence of some Russian language in the malware; the claim that the keyboard employed in the hack used the Cyrillic alphabet; the compiler had a date/time stamp on it corresponding to Moscow’s timezone; and the IP address pointed to a Russian source.
McAfee points out that each of these is surpassingly easy to create in order to lay down a fake evidence trail; in fact, he asserts, any second rate hacker would know how to do so. And of course, the CIA also knows how to falsify each of these elements to throw any investigation off their trail.
Also of note is the fact that the malware used on the supposed DNC hack was a year and a half old, and there have been many subsequent updates. This raises an obvious question: Why would Russian intelligence agencies, or contractors in their employ, use an out-of-date program?
The government’s claim that this malware (APT-28 and APT-29) came from two organizations related to the Russian government (in Ukraine) is also false, McAfee contends. These two designations of the software come from a teen hacking organization that tracks hacking all over the world. It’s not specific to Russia, or Ukraine even though they may use these tools. Hacking tools are disseminated all over the world and it’s impossible to say who is behind them.
Jan 16, 2017
Trump’s first formal news conference as president-elect was a contentious affair, and lost in the furor generated by salacious accusations in an unsourced dossier was the fact that the President-elect called the conference to explain how he would avoid any conflict of interest as president with his vast international business holdings. This includes placing his business empire in a trust controlled by his oldest sons, but he would not divest himself of his business holdings.
Trump also proposed “turning over to the United States Treasury any profits received at his hotels from foreign government clients. An ethics officer and, separately, a chief compliance counsel will be appointed at the Trump Organization to watch its operations and ensure that it is not receiving special terms, payment or favors as a result of its ties to Mr. Trump,” summarized the New York Times.
Critics in the media have been pushing for Trump to divest himself of all his business, which no law requires, and which would have disastrous tax consequences for Trump. The law only requires that a government official not take advantage of his position for monetary advantage, and the burden of proof is upon the government.
Jan 16, 2017
The country’s intelligence agencies are directed to gather the most accurate information possible about our nation’s enemies and thus help the nation’s leaders take appropriate action. But this process is apparently being abused to make the facts fit the political agenda of powerful groups in Washington, asserts geopolitical analyst Joel Skousen.
“I have long documented how the US has falsified intelligence about Iran and its nuclear program to suit what the neocons and globalists want presented at any given time.” Now the compromised elements of the intelligence community are increasingly revealing their true colors as they battle an increasingly skeptical President-elect, Skousen says. “The intel community is scrambling to cover their tracks as it now becomes obvious that they are deliberately leaking anything remotely damaging about Trump to the press.”
At issue is the unsubstantiated leaked dossier of supposed blackmail material held by the Kremlin on Trump. The substance of the blackmail was leaked by the intelligence community and given significant air-time recently by major media outlets who normally disregard this kind of salacious material until it becomes proven and relevant.
Sen. Rand Paul thinks that the intelligence agents who leaked the questionable material should be fired and given jail time, as he said in a Fox News interview.
“What I would say is that if there is private information that someone is blackmailing a public figure and the public figure or someone takes it to the intelligence agencies, you would think it would be private,” Paul declared. “And really, this is so important that I think whoever leaked it should be prosecuted.”
Jan 16, 2017
President-elect Donald Trump is in the midst of what could be called a “war” not just with an antagonistic media but with the nation’s intelligence services that are supposed to serve him and the country. After being disappointed with the quality of the daily security briefing given him, Trump refused to give them his time daily and every meeting since has been become fodder for the media including when Trump had a security briefing and what information was given him.
Trump has been so annoyed with the leaks of his supposedly confidential briefings that he a set up a private test to see where the leak was coming from. To rule out a leak from within his office he kept the next meeting a secret, he related in a recent press conference.
“Nobody knew – not even Rhona, my executive assistant for years. She didn’t know – I didn’t tell her. Nobody knew,” Trump explained. “The meeting was held. They left, and immediately the word got out that I had a meeting.”
Trump concluded that the leaks were coming from the intelligence community itself which is a serious breach of protocol with significant consequences if the source of the leaks can be caught. Although the press conference included all major media outlets, no one aired this story except the British tabloid the Daily Mail. Perhaps the other media outlets were embarrassed over their collusion with the intelligence community who had been feeding them details.
Jan 16, 2017
Voters who selected Donald Trump over other establishment politicians were dismayed to learn that Trump will allow one of the most prominent establishment globalists into his regime as an advisor to Rex Tillerson, who is fighting an uphill battle to be confirmed as Secretary of State.
According to Eliana Johnson of Politico, “It’s a scenario no one could have possibly foreseen: that one of the key architects of the Iraq War, which Trump slammed on the campaign trail, is now being enlisted as an emissary for a man Trump wants to help steer his ship of state.”
Dick Cheney is a friend of Tillerson and has been listed as an oil executive, although critics point out that this is a product of his “revolving door” relationship with big businesses who nominally appoint Washington insiders to their board of directors when the opposing party is in power. The expectation is that following their next appointment, they will treat their erstwhile employers favorably.
Cheney’s contacts extend beyond just Tillerson, however, Johnson reports: “The former vice president is also in close contact with senior Trump aides. Cheney speaks frequently with the vice president-elect, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who himself serves as a liaison between the president-elect and Capitol Hill, and who has said he hopes to model his vice presidency on Cheney’s.”
Veteran political analyst Joel Skousen sees a big problem with this cozy relationship with Pence, since Pence would assume command if Trump ever gets assassinated or impeached. Cheney, Skousen argues, ran a disproportionate amount of the White House while Vice President under George W. Bush. Cheney’s staff numbered in the hundreds and most critical decisions where rumored to have come from him.
Jan 16, 2017
Three months before he killed 5 people and wounded 8 at a Fort Lauderdale Airport baggage claim area, Esteban Santiago walked into the FBI office in Anchorage and complained that the “government controlled” his mind and he was being forced to read and watch videos of ISIS propaganda. The FBI officers understandably took away the concealed weapon he had with him, but instead of taking him into custody as a terror threat, they handed him over to the local police who put him into psychiatric care.
Rather than putting him on a “no fly” list, or the “terror watch list” – something that has happened to scores or hundreds of entirely harmless people – the FBI returned his weapon to him following his discharge from psychiatric care. That is the same weapon he eventually used in his airport murder spree. Both the federal government and several states make a point of confiscating firearms from people deemed to be psychologically unfit; indeed, California’s state department of justice has a dedicated law enforcement agency that specializes in such gun seizures. In this case, the FBI’s priority was to ensure that a man who had explicitly claimed to have been radicalized retained possession of his firearm.
In an editorial demanding “better answers” from the FBI, the Florida Sun-Sentinel newspaper asked:
“How many warning signs, red flags and alarm bells does the agency need to recognize that someone poses a danger, deserves ongoing scrutiny and shouldn't be allowed to possess — let alone fly — with weapons and ammunition?”
“Had agents stayed on the case, they might have discovered Santiago also faced charges for domestic violence and criminal mischief,” continues the editorial. “His aunt, Maria Ruiz, told reporters in Union City, New Jersey, that ‘it was like a month ago, he lost his mind.’"
Jan 13, 2017
Ruling in a case that has lasted for the better part of two decades, the US District Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has stated what should be obvious: Social workers do not have the legal right to perjure themselves and conceal evidence in order to seize children from their parents.
In 2000, a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of families who had been ripped apart by child welfare bureaucrats in Orange County, California. Retaining the hyper-expensive law firm Lynberg & Watkins, which specializes in defending abusive police officers, Orange County officials have maintained that social workers who lie to judges and suppress exculpatory evidence are shielded by the pernicious legal fiction called “qualified immunity.” The county also pretended that social workers have not been provided with adequate notice that such conduct is illegal.
During oral argument last October, Judge Stephen S. Trott asked attorney Pancy Lin, “How in the world could a person in the shoes of your client possibly believe that it was appropriate to use perjury and false evidence in order to impair somebody’s liberty interest in the care, custody, and control of that person’s children? How could they possibly not be on notice that you can’t do this?”
While admitting that the argument against criminal misconduct “seems to be common sense,” Lin maintained that there was no “clearly established right” on the part of parents to be protected from a court order that had been obtained through criminal means employed by her clients.
Speaking on behalf of the plaintiffs, attorney Dennis Inglos summarized that “Lying is bad, it’s obviously bad. It’s constitutionally bad…. The lies are on paper in a transcript - -the deliberate falsehoods.”
Jan 13, 2017
“Venezuela is no longer a country with a government, institutions and a civil society,” writes Thor Halvorssen of the Human Rights Foundation in a New York Post op-ed column. “It’s a geographic area terrorized by a criminal enterprise that pretends to govern, with a civil society made up of two sets of people: accomplices and victims. More than 30 million of the latter.”
The undisguised plunder of the country was inaugrated under the reign of Socialist President Hugo Chavez in 2000, when the country’s public sector was given over entirely to institutionalized bribery, graft, and looting. All government ministries were riddled with “phantom payrolls,” phony government-grant programs siphoned huge sums from the budget, and the ruling elite began “the sacking of Venezuela’s gold reserves and a massive currency-exchange scam,” Halvorssen continues.
In this fashion, more than one trillion dollars in wealth has been strip-mined from the country by its Marxist elite, “some of it wasted on social programs that produced nothing — and a staggering amount has ended up in bank accounts in Andorra, Panama, New York, Hong Kong and Switzerland.”
Not surprisingly, “the pillaging has turned Venezuela into a dystopian landscape. There are shortages of every imaginable foodstuff and basic necessity; diseases once thought eradicated are back with a vengeance; and a crime wave that has given Caracas the highest murder rate in the world.”
Jan 13, 2017
Vice Admiral Julio Cesar Gandarilla, the newly appointed Interior Minister for Cuba’s Communist government, began his tenure by imposing a severe crack-down that included the arrest of two activists who posted a protest sign in Havana.
Following the arrests of Jesus Romero and Alexis Rodriguez, Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba said that “The increase in repression is due to several causes, among them a push that the government is making in the last days of Barack Obama’s administration to make it clear to [President-elect] Trump that they do not care about the policy change he has announced toward Cuba.”
Dissident leader Katrina Galvez, editor of the magazine Convivencia, was arrested and her home searched amid charges of tax evasion. Oscar Elias Biscet, founder of the Emilia Project, was also briefly detained.
Ferrer told the online opposition news service Translating Cuba that “After the death of his brother, Raul Castro needs to increase terror levels to maintain power. They know people are tired of the same thing,” continued Ferrer. “When in April we mobilized more than 1,000 people the political police told us that we would never do something like that again.”
Jan 13, 2017
New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer would appear to agree with many of Donald Trump’s supporters that disclosure of an opposition research dossier containing lurid allegations against the president-elect is an act of retaliation by the intelligence community for his frequent criticism of the CIA.
“Let me tell you – you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back on you,” the Senate Minority Leader told MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on January 3, more than a week before the dossier was made public. Schumer and Maddow were discussing Trump’s public comments disagreeing with the intelligence report claiming that the Russian government had intervened in the 2016 presidential election, and complaining that his intelligence briefing on the matter had been delayed in order to manipulate public opinion.
“Even for a practical supposedly hard-nosed businessman, he’s being really dumb to do this,” Schumer contended.
Jan 13, 2017
Among the most valuable due process protections is the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition against what is called double jeopardy – that is, the government cannot make a person “subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” As with nearly every other guarantee found in the Bill of Rights, ambitious prosecutors and compliant judges are working to eradicate that vital protection, warns legal commentator George Leef.
Writing in Forbes, Leef refers to the ongoing case Walker v. Texas, which is before the US Supreme Court. Walker, an electrician, was indicted by state officials on criminal fraud charges in 2013 – two years after federal authorities had extracted a plea bargain with him on identical charges. Although on its face this is a violation of the clear prohibition against double jeopardy, under existing precedents this second prosecution is permissible because it is being carried out within a separate jurisdiction – and the protection against double jeopardy is not applied to the states.
Devised roughly a century ago, the incorporation doctrine has been used to expand federal power at the expense of powers reserved to the separate states. Its proponents will often invoke abuses of individual liberty by state governments to justify federal intervention – but in this case the court contrived what it calls a “dual sovereignty” exception to the incorporation principle. Thus practically the only case in which the Feds recognize state sovereignty is in the power of prosecutors to violate the Fifth Amendment by trying citizens twice for the same offense.
Jan 13, 2017
A federal judge has authorized a malicious prosecution lawsuit to proceed against Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby, who has pursued criminal charges against six Baltimore police officers involved in the still-unsolved death of Freddie Gray, who suffered a fatal spinal injury in custody. The lawsuit claims that the officers – who took part in the arrest and detention of Gray on an invalid weapons charge, and who died in a police van en route to jail – had suffered defamation and invasion of privacy.
Prosecutors generally enjoy extraordinary immunity in the course of their official duties, and malicious prosecution lawsuits are nearly non-existent. In this case, the plaintiffs themselves enjoy both “qualified immunity” as police officers, and the un-legislated but very real status that has been called “Blue Privilege” – social and institutional deference given to the police as the enforcement arm of the criminal justice system. Plaintiffs acquitted on homicide charges in similar circumstances who were not police officers would almost certainly not be permitted to pursue a lawsuit against the prosecutor.
Mosby, who has been widely criticized as a race agitator, is one of the few in her position to seek prosecution of suspected lethal police misconduct. Civil liberties commentator Taylor Pendergrass notes that prosecutors often face retaliation for efforts to expose and combat police corruption.
Jan 13, 2017
Civil libertarian and transparency activist Glenn Greenwald is a longstanding opponent of the Deep State – the self-sustaining covert government of which the CIA is the most visible element. He is also an outspoken critic of Donald Trump. A liberal in his political inclinations, Greenwald is alarmed by the way nearly everyone on the Left has suddenly embraced the CIA out of reflexive partisanship.
“The serious dangers posed by a Trump presidency are numerous and manifest,” writes Greenwald in The Intercept. “There [is] a wide array of legitimate and effective tactics for combatting those threats … from bipartisan congressional coalitions and constitutional legal challenges to citizen uprisings and sustained and aggressive civil disobedience. All of those strategies have periodically proven themselves effective in times of political crisis or authoritarian overreach.”
“But cheering for the CIA and its shadowy allies to unilaterally subvert the US election and impose its own policy dictates on the elected president is both warped and self-destructive,” Greenwald advises. For six decades, the Deep State has “produced the most shameful atrocities and systemic deceit…”
Embittered Clinton partisans and militant leftists have embraced the narrative that Trump was installed by the Russian government, and that skepticism toward the CIA’s claims is unpatriotic. Greenwald replies that “casually branding domestic adversaries who refuse to go along as traitors and disloyal foreign operatives is morally bankrupt and certain to backfire on those doing it.”
Jan 13, 2017
Citing anonymous officials within the intelligence community, the Washington Post reports that “the decision had been unanimous to attach the two-page summary” of the now-notorious Trump dossier “to a sweeping report on Russian election interference commissioned by the White House and briefed to Obama, Trump and congressional leaders.” One anonymous source reportedly told the Post that this was “fully explained” and “put into context” when it was presented to the president-elect.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has said that he personally told Trump that the allegations digested in the dossier had been compiled by a “private security company” and that government intelligence agencies had “not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable.” According to Clapper, “part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.” Clapper claims to be dismayed that the dossier was leaked to the public.
Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi, who has been a supporter of Donald Trump, concludes that the dossier is “a composite of some fact, a lot of speculation, and even some fiction. It is very similar to the types of media-focused disinformation produced by both the CIA and KGB in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s…. In this case, the original intent might well have been to discredit Trump personally,” perhaps with the objective of narrowing his options “on recalibrating with Russia.
Jan 13, 2017
Russian government interference in the 2016 US presidential election would be a grave affront to national independence and an unprecedented domestic and diplomatic crisis. This is understood by people who uncritically accept the unproven allegations of Russian meddling made by the CIA, NSA, and FBI. Until his January 11 press conference, President-elect Trump had been dismissive of those claims – but he now appears to be equivocating on the matter.
“The closest Trump ever came to acknowledging the prospect of Kremlin attribution for the online attacks came before the election, when he half-jokingly called on Russia to pilfer messages deleted from Hillary Clinton’s private email server,” recall correspondents Robert Mackey and Sam Biddle of The Intercept. In his press conference, however, Trump pivoted seamlessly from a posture that could be described as “Yeah, right,” to a view that could be summarized as, “So what?”
“As far as hacking, I think it was Russia,” Mr. Trump said in reply to a question as to whether he believed the intelligence briefing he had received on alleged election interference. “I think we also get hacked by other countries and other people. And, I can say that you know when, we lost 22 million names and everything else that was hacked recently, they didn’t make a big deal out of that. That was something extraordinary. That was probably China…. We had much hacking going on.”
The incident to which Trump referred was a cyber-attack on the Office of Personnel Management in 2014 and 2015. While that was a devastating attack, Trump seemed to be lost in the details of the current controversy, apparently conceding that Moscow interfered in the election while suggesting that it was a relatively trivial matter.
Jan 13, 2017
Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, selected by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as Secretary of State, used his Senate confirmation hearing to describe Russia as a “danger” to U.S. interests, and to call for concerted action to destroy the Islamic State.
“Russia today poses a danger,” asserted Tillerson. “It invaded Urkaine, including Crimea, and violated the laws of war. But it’s an absence of American leadership that left this door open.” Russia and the United States “do not have the same values,” he continued. “But there is scope to define a different relationship to bring down the temperature of the conflict we have today. Dialogue is critical so these things do not spin out of control.”
Confronting ISIS is an undertaking in which joint efforts might be possible, Tillerson suggested, describing the effort to defeat the group and destroy its self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq and Syria as “our first priority.”
Where President-elect Trump has been open to reassessing the US role in NATO, Tillerson pointedly described the European alliance’ss mutual defense guarantee as “inviolable.”
Jan 13, 2017
As the European Union escalates efforts to disarm civilians in the name of public safety, the government of the Czech Republic is pursuing exactly the opposite course. Czech President Milos Zeman – insisting that the influx of Muslim refugees could lead to a “super-holocaust” – has urged citizens to acquire firearms.
Zeman, a 71-year-old Communist retread who is now affiliated with the Social Democrat Party, apparently considers gun ownership as a matter of national security, as opposed to individual self-defense, and sees the country’s Muslim population – roughly 3,500 people out of 10.5 million – as an incipient threat akin to Nazism. An interesting question not publicly explored by Zeman is whether he believes that Muslim citizens and legal residents should be encouraged to arm themselves as well.
The Czech Republic has some of the least restrictive gun laws in Europe: To purchase a firearm, a resident must be at least 21 years of age, pass a safety test, and have no previous criminal record. The government’s interior ministry is promoting a constitutional amendment that would recognize the right of citizens to use firearms in the event of a terrorist attack. Zeman’s government strongly dissented from a recent European Commission directive calling for a complete ban on sales of rifles such as Kalashnikovs or AR-15s, and limiting ammo magazines to twenty rounds. Compliance with that mandate, contended the government in Prague, would undermine the country’s ability to maintain an “internal security system.”
Jan 13, 2017
During his January 11 press conference, President-elect Trump once again threatened to impose “a major border tax on these companies that are leaving and getting away with murder.”
Commentator Matt Welch observes that Trump’s views regarding trade are largely in harmony with those of Hillary Clinton, who threatened on the campaign trial that “companies who … walk out on America are going to pay a price. And if they shift jobs overseas, we’re going to make them give back the tax breaks they received here at home, because we can take that money and put it to work investing in communities that are left behind.”
Jan 12, 2017
The United States Constitution lists three federal crimes: Treason, counterfeiting, and piracy. All other criminal offenses are violations of state and local laws, and within the jurisdiction of those governments. Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who has frequently expressed reverence for the Constitution, forgot about the principle of federalism during the confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions’ nomination to become US Attorney General under Donald Trump.
Hatch, who seeks to criminalize the production and consumption of pornography, asked sessions if he would “vigorously” prosecute those who create and sell obscene materials involving adults. Hatch also asked if Sessions would re-instate the Justice Department’s Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, which was shut down by former Attorney General Eric Holder.
“Those laws are clear and are being prosecuted today and should continue to be effectively prosecuted in the cases that are appropriate,” Sessions replied, promising as well that he would consider reviving the federal task force.
As it happens, the president under whom Sessions would serve is a veteran of the pornography business, having appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine and in at least three soft-core so-called adult films produced by Playboy Enterprises. The left-leaning publication Slate points out that Hatch has expressed frustration “that the Justice Department didn’t do enough to prosecute larger distributors of more mainstream pornography,” such as Playboy.
Jan 12, 2017
Dr. Cornel West, who is currently a professor of philosophy at the Union Theological Seminary, is one of the most prominent left-wing critics of Barack Obama, and he used an op-ed column in the Guardian of London to lament what he called the “sad legacy” of America’s first black president.
“The reign of Obama did not produce the nightmare of Donald Trump – but it did contribute to it,” writes West, reflecting the views of his left-leaning political faction. “And those Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility.” West rebukes Obama for protecting corrupt Wall Street interests, noting that “not one Wall Street criminal executive went to jail” following the 2008 market melt-down.
In similar fashion, Obama impeded accountability for US officials who had carried out torture of terrorism suspects, and radically escalated the drone war overseas, while concealing all of the germane details about that program from the public.
Where police unions and law-and-order conservatives assail Obama for supposedly abetting a “war on police,” West condemns him for public speeches in which he described “the difficult plight of police officers.” Obama praised liberal New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2009, West recalls, while overlooking the fact that “more than 4 million people were stopped-and-frisked under Bloomberg’s watch.”
Among Obama’s gravest delinquencies, insists West, was his pursuit and persecution of Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, Jeffrey Sterling, “and other truth-tellers” who exposed official misconduct.
Jan 12, 2017
Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech “reeked” of “pure, unadulterated hypocrisy,” insists RT correspondent Danielle Ryan, who describes herself as a long-time fan.
In anticipation of Donald Trump’s presidency, Streep urged her professional colleagues to support the Committee to Protect Journalists.
“She’s right, of course,” wrote Ryan. “But one wonders if Streep is even aware, for instance, that the Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all of his predecessors combined? It’s a tradition Trump is likely to continue, of course, but it’s rather strange that the issue never crossed her mind until now.”
“And where was Streep … when Obama was helping Saudi Arabia level Yemen, bombing funerals and wedding parties?” Ryan continues. “Or when his `humanitarian intervention’ in Libya went so disastrously wrong that it turned the country into a failed state, allowing the terrorist group ISIS to flourish? Or when the great uniter earned himself the nickname `The Drone King’ as he expanded the US drone program and conducted ten times more strikes than George W. Bush? Also a tradition Trump will likely be only too happy to uphold.”
“The fact is, many of the outrages that Streep and the Hollywood elite are now up in arms about are not Trump-specific – and they’re not new,” she concludes. “They’re already happening. Hollywood hero Obama has made it even easier for Trump to go after journalists and whistleblowers and bomb innocents if that’s the path he chooses.”
Jan 12, 2017
Every state intelligence service keeps dossiers on prominent people, especially politicians and other public officials. Founding FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover became the most feared man in Washington because he was the keeper of his notoriously extensive files, which included so-called “raw” – or uncorroborated – intelligence that could damage reputations.
Russian intelligence services since the days of Feliks Dzherzinsky, Hoover’s contemporary who founded what would become known as the KGB, have called such material “kompromat.” In December, Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, a truculent critic of Russia and political rival of Donald Trump, provided FBI Director James Comey with documents alleging that Russia’s intelligence services possess kompromat on the president-elect.
The documents – which have since been posted online by Buzzfeed, were “a series of reports on Trump’s relationship with Moscow” and were composed “by a former western counter-intelligence official, now working as a private consultant.” This is to say that the material has no primary-source documentation, but is entirely speculative at best, and lurid gossip, at worst.
Those documents were originally produced by Republicans who were seeking opposition research on Trump during the primary season. Trump himself complains that he is being targeted in “a total political witch hunt.”
Jan 12, 2017
Still smarting from their ignominious defeat in the first round of prosecutions in the Malheur Refuge trials, and furious over exposure of the undercover FBI informant-provocateurs involved in the case, federal prosecutors are asking trial Judge Anna Brown to expand a protective order forbidding defense attorneys to reveal information about the snitches.
After California blogger and activist Gary Hunt published the names of FBI informants, the FBI demanded that he delete the posts – thereby confirming the accuracy of his reporting. Hunt’s legally unassailable argument is that using testimony from anonymous informants violates the rights of the defendants under the Sixth Amendment to confront the witnesses against them publicly. He also asserts that the protective order applied only to the defense attorneys, and that as a journalist he is not subject to it. Prosecutors have unwittingly validated that argument as well by asking Judge Brown to expand her initial order to forbid both “direct and indirect violations—wherever they may occur.”
Brown has asked prosecutors to file a brief arguing what legal authority the court would have to order a third party to obey a protective order, and how she could compel someone outside the state of Oregon to comply.
Hunt insists that he is not in contact with the defense team. Under California’s journalist shield law, neither state nor federal authorities can compel him to disclose his sources, or any unpublished information that could reveal their identity.
Jan 12, 2017
Proponents of legalized abortion loudly decry any effort to require abortion facilities to maintain minimum health and sanitation standards as an effort to restrict access to the procedure. Indeed, the child-killing industry is the only business most left-leaning politicians and activists want to de-regulate. This has consequences for the health and safety of the women who procure abortions, in addition to consistently lethal consequences for the children destroyed thereby.
The direct action group OperationRescue recently obtained five “Statement of Deficiency Reports” that document citations of the Planned Parenthood abortuary in St. Louis, Missouri “for 39 classes of violations involving 210 incidents,” more than half of which “were related to failure to provide a safe and sanitary environment,” reports Life News.
“Each year that the St. Louis Planned Parenthood has been inspected, the number of incidents has increased,” comments Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “This is hard evidence that things at Planned Parenthood are getting worse, not better…. If a restaurant was cited this many times, it would be shut down, but somehow, Planned Parenthood has been allowed to continue placing the lives of women at risk.”
Jan 12, 2017
Bristol County, Massachusetts Sheriff Thomas Hodgson, who has proposed conscripting jail inmates as unpaid labor to build Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, is also seeking to reinstate a program that charged inmates a $5 daily fee for their incarceration.
It is worth remembering that inmates in county jails are often being held prior to trial, which means that they have not been convicted of offenses.
Hodgson, a four-term sheriff, was in office in 2010 when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that he did not have legal authority to charge inmates a daily fee for their time in his jail. Following his swearing-in ceremony on January 4, the sheriff told reporters that he would be lobbying the state Legislature to enact a law authorizing the imposition of that fee. One Republican legislator, State Rep. Steven Howitt, said that the fee “does not seem unreasonable and it is something I would consider supporting.”
Sheriff Hodgson was part of the Special Commission to Study the Feasibility of Establishing Inmate Fees, which was created following the 2010 state Supreme Court ruling. That committee’s report – to which Hodgson registered a dissent – concluded that the fees would generate a “host of negative and unintended consequences,” including impediments to inmates seeking reintegration in society.
Hodgson claimed that from 2002 to 2004, the daily incarceration surcharge produced $750,000 in gross revenue.
Jan 12, 2017
In Communist East Germany, the Stasi secret police kept nearly the entire population under surveillance – and recruited most of the population to inform on each other. The US government’s electronic surveillance is much more comprehensive than anything the relatively backward East German government could have devised, and the FBI – the world’s oldest existing political police organ – has been using computer technicians in a fashion of which the Stasi would have approved.
The Best Buy electronics retail chain has long boasted a customer support service called the Geek Squad, which will make service house calls to treat ailing personal computers and other underperforming digital devices. A federal child pornography case in Orange County, California has revealed that the FBI has been using taxpayer funds to bribe Geek Squad members to act as informants, tasking them to conduct warrantless searches of computer hard drives and report their findings to the FBI.
In addition to the criminal misconduct involved in the unconstitutional search, “The FBI undertook a series of dishonest measures in hopes of building a case,” defense attorney James D. Riddet recounts. Agents “conducted two additional searches [of a defendant’s] computer without obtaining necessary warrants, lied to trick a federal magistrate judge into authorizing a search warrant, then tried to cover up their misdeeds by initially hiding records.”
The evidence used in the Orange County case was obtained using sophisticated forensics tools – and its existence may not have been known to the owner of the computer.
Jan 12, 2017
Syndicated columnist and Fox News contributor Monica Crowley, appointed by President-elect Trump to serve as a national security spokesperson, continues to be plagued with accusations of plagiarism – not only in her recent New York Times best-selling book, and in a 1999 Wall Street Journal column, but now in her Ph.D. dissertation.
Crowley’s dissertation, “Clearer Than Truth: Determining and Preserving Grand Strategy – The Evolution of American Policy Toward the People’s Republic of China Under Truman and Nixon,” was submitted to Columbia University in 2000.
Politico, which obtained a copy of the dissertation through the academic database ProQuest, asserts that a careful examination of the document “and the sources it cites identified more than a dozen sections of text that have been lifted, with little to no changes, from other scholarly works without proper attribution. In some instances, Crowley footnoted her source but did not identify with quotation marks the text she was copying directly. In other instances, she copied text or heavily paraphrased with no attribution at all.”
The examples of large-scale borrowing without proper attribution came from six books or scholarly articles on foreign policy, one of which was published just prior to Crowley finished her dissertation.
Following the discovery in 1999 that a Wall Street Journal column published under Crowley’s byline included large sections lifted verbatim from a 1988 Commentary magazine essay by historian Paul Johnson, the paper’s editor published anote declaring that “Had we known of the parallels, we would hot have published the article.”
Jan 12, 2017
The horror induced by the murder and dismemberment of a child in Easton, Pennsylvania is compounded by the fact that the adoptive mother accused of the unspeakable crime “previously worked as an adoption supervisor for a children’s welfare agency,” as reported by Fox News.
Sara Packer and her boyfriend, Jacob Sullivan, were arraigned on numerous charges including criminal homicide, rape, and abuse of a corpse. Sullivan apparently admitted to the killing of 14-year-old Grace Parker as he was led into court,according to the Intelligencer newspaper.
“I’m sorry for what I did,” Sullivan declared. “It was wrong.”
Prosecutors charge the couple with sexually abusing the adopted girl, torturing her, and then killing her “as part of a rape-murder fantasy.” Investigators claim that after killing the child, the couple concealed the remains in the attic of their home, and packed her traumatized body with cat litter in an attempt to mitigate the odor of decomposition. They allegedly dismembered and sought to dispose of the body in October after being alarmed by a visit from the police. Hunters in nearby Luzerne County found the child’s torso in a park, and K-9 search teams found her legs and arms nearby.
The couple continued to cash the daughter’s monthly $700 Social Security disability checks following her disappearance. They reportedly made a suicide pact and attempted a lethal overdose on prescription narcotics on December 30.
Packer’s ex-husband, David Packer, pleaded guilty to child sex abuse charges in 2011 and was sentenced to a term of six months to five years in prison.
Jan 12, 2017
Harris County, Texas resident Ross LeBeau displays a weary, resigned smile in the booking photo taken after he was arrested by deputies on suspicion of drug possession – but he had every right to be angry. The deputies “thought they had the biggest bust in Harris County – this was the bust of the year for them,” LeBeau commented after the charge was dropped.
It turned out that the mound of supposed contraband discovered in LeBeau’s car during a traffic stop was kitty litter, which he uses to keep his windshield from fogging up. Despite the fact that kitty litter bears no resemblance to crystal meth, LeBeau was arrested – and his prospects grew grimmer when two field tests conducted with the notoriously unreliable “Nik Kit” initially gave positive results for the drug. A third test – this one conducted by competent forensic technicians, rather than inept patrol deputies -- confirmed that the substance was precisely what LeBeau claimed it to be.
In addition to being detained and jailed without cause, and seeing his reputation tarnished by publication of his mug shot, LeBeau lost his job as a result of the spurious drug arrest, and now faces a lengthy and expensive struggle to expunge his record
Jan 12, 2017
New Jersey resident Dan Zhong faces serious criminal charges, but as a person of great wealth and privilege he might be able to await trial in luxurious surroundings, rather than a cold and barren cell.
Zhong, a former Chinese diplomat, is accused of forcing Chinese immigrants to work on construction projects at Chinese diplomatic facilities in the United States. Although presently held in pre-trial detention at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center, he has proposed paying $144,000 a month to retain a security firm that would enforce pre-trial detention at his two-story home in Livingston.
Defense attorney Thomas Fitzpatrick recently told a judge that Zhong’s “family in China is willing to spend that money to get him out of the MDC.”
Zhong’s family is both extravagantly wealthy and immensely influential, both in Communist China and within America’s ruling elite. His uncle, Chinese billionaire Wang Wenliang, “has drawn scrutiny over his large donations to American political campaigns and nonprofits like the Clinton Foundation,” reports the AP. If the judge agrees to his proposal, Zhong would join an elite list of privileged defendants allowed to live at home while awaiting trial. Some of them, including financial conman Bernard Madoff and Chinagate figure Ng Lap Seng, are also connected to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
Jan 12, 2017
If American Fork, Utah resident Kenneth Lee Drew had been a government-employed law enforcement officer, rather than a private repossession agent, he would likely have received a commendation following the admittedly tragic death of Ashleigh Holloway Best, who killed herself by slamming a 2002 Lincoln Navigator into a tree. Instead, the 50-year-old man faces a lengthy prison term.
Drew had been employed by On Demand Repos to take possession of the car after Best and her husband failed to make the necessary payments. During his visit to the household last May, Drew agreed to wait while Best’s husband tried to update the payment plan – but Best climbed into the car and sped off, thereby committing an act of theft through fraud. According to police investigators, Best’s husband, Brennan, abetted the theft by “trying to place himself in front” of Drew’s tow truck “to prevent it from following the Navigator.”
Drew pursued the stolen vehicle, eventually making use of an aggressive tactic similar to a PIT – or Precision Immobilization Technique – maneuver. Unfortunately, Best lost control of the vehicle, and died in the ensuing collision.
Grief-stricken and guilt-ridden, Drew pled guilty to manslaughter late last year as part of a plea bargain in which prosecutors asked for a suspended prison sentence. Utah Fourth District Judge Robert Lunnen discarded that plea agreement, imposing a sentence of one to fifteen years in prison.
Unlike police officers, Drew – who was a privately employed peace officer enforcing a legitimate property rights claim – was not protected by the legal fiction called “qualified immunity.”
Jan 11, 2017
A New Mexico State Police officer who unlawfully killed an armed citizen cannot be held personally liable for his act because there was “no settled Fourth Amendment principle” dealing with his misconduct, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled on January 9.
Two State Police officers were sent to the address of Daniel Pauly after a 911 report that the car he was driving had been swerving on the highway. Since they weren’t witnesses of his alleged erratic driving they didn’t have probable cause for an arrest or to enter his home without permission. The officers bracketed the home and demanded to be let in. In making that demand, the officers used a profane epithet, rather than identifying themselves. Daniel and his brother, Samuel, refused to open the door to the strangers, and warned them that they were armed.
Having no lawful authority to do so, the officers invaded the home, prompting Daniel to unload a shotgun blast in their direction. Had he fatally shot an officer in those circumstances, it would have been an act of justifiable homicide, given that the police were acting without a warrant or probable cause. The officers opened fire. As the exchange was underway, a third officer who arrived on the scene, opened fire without issuing a warning or learning details of the situation. That officer, Ray White, fatally shot Samuel Pauly.
In an unsigned opinion, the Supreme Court ruled that White’s actions are covered by “qualified immunity” because judicial precedents do not require an officer to “second-guess” comrades involved in the use of deadly force – even when doing so is facially unconstitutional.
Jan 11, 2017
Like a medieval heretic who recants his beliefs after being summoned before the Grand Inquisitor, Dr. Daniel Neides of the Cleveland Clinic has been compelled to apologize for publishing a newspaper column questioning the wisdom of mass vaccination.
“I am tired of all the nonsense we as American citizens are being fed while big business – and the government – continue to ignore the health and well-being of the fine people in this country,” exclaimed Dr. Neides in his January 6 essay. “Why am I all fired up, you ask? I, like everyone else, took the advice of the Centers for Disease Control … and received a flu shot. I chose to receive the preservative free vaccine, thinking I did not want any thimerasol (i.e. mercury) that the `regular’ flu vaccine contains.”
Although his vaccine was mercury-free, it contained formaldehyde, “a known carcinogen.” As a result, Dr. Neides complained, people were “being lined up like cattle and injected with an unsafe product. Within 12 hours of receiving the vaccine, I was in bed feeling miserable and missed two days of work with a terrible cough and body aches.”
After being chastised by the Holy Office of the Pharmaceutical cartel, Dr. Neides apologized. The hospital promised that he would be subjected to what it called “appropriate discipline.”
Jan 11, 2017
Fox News has reportedly reached what has been described as “a very quiet settlement arrangement with former Fox News host Juliet Huddy,” who had threatened a sexual harassment lawsuit against prominent Fox personality Bill O’Reilly and newly appointed network co-President Jack Abernethy. Huddy had filed notice of her intent to sue in July following the ouster of Fox News founder Roger Ailes, who was the focus of similar accusations at this time of his departure.
Huddy joined the network in 1998, had been a host on the weekend edition of Fox & Friends, and beginning in 2010 had a regular segment as part of the nightly O’Reilly Factor program. In her letter to the network, Huddy claimed that she lost her position on O’Reilly’s show “in retaliation for rebuffing Mr. O’Reilly’s advances.” She specifically accused O’Reilly of explicitly propositioning her on several occasions, harassing her with inappropriate phone calls, and attempting to kiss her. She made similar allegations against Abernethy. Huddy’s father, John Huddy Sr., has longstanding personal ties to Fox News founder Roger Ailes. Ms. Huddy left the network shortly after it announced a $20 million settlement of sexual harassment claims by former anchor Gretchen Carlson.
In comments to the online publication LawNewz.com, one Fox official insisted that “There was no sexual harassment” and that “Any purported claim made by Ms. Huddy would be nothing more than an opportunistic fabrication concocted to cash in on the legal settlement from Fox News.”
Jan 11, 2017
Article II of the United States Constitution, which describes the duties of the president of the united States, contains a little more than one thousand words, which are organized into four sections. Section 2 contains an exhaustive list of the delegated powers of the office. Nowhere in that section’s 225 words can be found a syllable authorizing the president to run the country or its economy – let alone to use the threat of punitive taxation to bully the owners of private companies into locating their manufacturing facilities in the USA.
Even before taking the oath of office, President-elect Trump is displaying contempt for the constitutional duties of the presidency, indifference regarding the separation of powers, and expansive economic ignorance by using his Twitter account to threaten auto manufacturers to build their products in the USA “or pay big border tax!” That threat has been directed not only at American-owned companies, but at the Japanese automaker Toyota, as well. According to Trump, “Companies are not going to leave the United States anymore without consequences” – a decree that suggests a metaphorical border wall intended to trap people inside a country increasingly subject to the lawless whims of a capricious president.
Threats and other expressions of hostility from the incoming president have inflicted economic damage on the targeted companies by causing investors to sell off their stock.
Jan 11, 2017
In defiance of popular criticism of outsourcing, a prominent businessman and university chairman published an essay entitled “Outsourcing Creates Jobs in the Long Run.”
"We hear terrible things about outsourcing jobs. But in this instance I have to take the unpopular stance,” he began. Although there is short-term pain involved in outsourcing, "we have to look at the bigger picture,” he continued. “Last year, Nobel Prize-winning economist Dr. Lawrence R. Klein, the founder of Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates, co-authored a study that showed how global outsourcing actually creates more jobs and increases wages, at least for IT workers. The study found that outsourcing helped companies be more competitive and more productive. That means they make more money, which means they funnel more into the economy, thereby, creating more jobs."
“I know that doesn’t make it any easier for people whose jobs have been outsourced overseas, but if a company’s only means of survival is by farming jobs outside its walls, then sometimes it’s a necessary step,” he concluded. “The other option might be to close its doors for good.”
That economic analysis was published in the August 29, 2005 edition of “The Trump Blog,” with the byline identifying its author as “Donald J. Trump, Chairman, Trump University.”
Commentator A. Barton Hinkle, who exhumed that essay from the Internet Memory Hole, notes that Mr. Trump’s businesses “sell products made in Mexico – not to mention China, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Honduras, Germany, the Netherlands, India, Turkey, and Slovenia.”
Jan 11, 2017
In defiance of long-established professional customs in which police officers are trained to see “officer safety” as the most important consideration in any encounter with a citizen, two officers from the Miami-Dade Police Department exercised patience, self-restraint, and no small amount of personal courage to de-escalate a potentially deadly encounter with a suicidal Marine veteran who was armed with a knife.
After arriving on the scene, one officer parried the troubled man’s threats to harm him while the other saw to the safety of bystanders on the scene.
Video of the encounter showed the severely depressed man asking to be shot, telling the officers that if they approached him he would use the knife and that “I’ve been shot before.”
One officer pleads with the distraught man, telling him “I don’t want to hurt you, put it down…. Just relax, just drop it…. Come on, talk to me brother,” he urged, as both he and his partner carefully approached the man. Eventually they were able to take him into custody without seriously harming him, and he was taken to a hospital for treatment.
Jan 11, 2017
Like Chicago, New York, and other major cities, the municipal government of Los Angeles will have to borrow money in order to cover the expenses incurred from settling several high-profile lawsuits.
According to the Los Angeles Times, city budget officials have warned “that the city needs to immediately borrow tens of millions of dollars to avoid dipping into its emergency reserve fund” following the legal settlements. The city ordinarily budgets $60 million a year for its legal liability fund, but since the fiscal year began on July 1 it has already paid out $135 million.
Among recent legal expenses incurred by Los Angeles are a $200-million settlement by the City Council in a housing-related lawsuit brought by disabled groups, and an $8-million settlement to end lawsuits related to the fatal Los Angeles Police Department shootings of three unarmed men in separate incidents. The $200 million total will be paid out over 10 years.
The Los Angeles City Administrative Office has recommended that the city borrow $50 million to $70 million to address cases that are part of a what it calls a “new trend of increased liability payouts.” The report also urges that the city issue a bond, and advises against dipping into the city’s reserve fund, which is for financial emergencies.
As of November, points out the L.A. Times, the city’s reserve fund “stood at about $295 million, which the report said is `only precariously above’ the minimum amount required under city policy — 5% of the General Fund budget.”
Jan 11, 2017
A journalistic sting carried out by a reporter for the Al-Jazeera network apparently caught an official at Israel’s embassy in London discussing a “hit list” of British legislators who were seen as that country’s political enemies, reports the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Shai Masot, an officer in the Israeli Defense Forces and a senior political officer at the London embassy, referred to potential action targeting several British MPs, asking a civil servant, “Can I give you some MPs that I would suggest you would take down?... If you look hard enough, I’m sure there is something that they’re trying to hide. A little scandal, maybe.” One figure mentioned specifically was Deputy Foreign Minister Sir Alan Duncan, who is a prominent supporter of Palestinian statehood. Crispin Blunt, chair of the Commons foreign affairs select committee, was also mentioned as a name on the “hit list” for his support of the Palestinians.
Israeli diplomatic officials disavowed Masot’s remarks and promised that he would soon be removed from his post at the London embassy. During a January 9 session of Parliament, Conservative Party MP Sir Hugo Swire, chair of the party’s Middle East Council, demanded an investigation of the matter. The British Foreign Office has said that the matter is “closed.”
Jan 11, 2017
Without warning or explanation, the FBI released another batch of 300 Hillary Clinton emails over the weekend, and this collection contains what Fox News legal affairs analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano characterizes as a “smoking gun” regarding the former Secretary of State’s violations of federal law.
“The highly sensitive nature was 301 pages of emails which Mrs. Clinton sent on a regular basis to a non-government person,” Napolitano explained. “We have reason to believe it was Sid Blumenthal, with whom she [exchanged emails] on a regular basis, several times a day. What we now know -- what Donald Trump feared and argued on the campaign trail, and what rogue FBI agents who profoundly disagreed with Director Comey’s decision to recommend against indictment – was true,” Napolitano continued. “That the information Mrs. Clinton regularly sent to her emailer was hacked by foreign intelligence agencies, of countries unfriendly to us, and friendly to us.” Citing sources within the Bureau, Napolitano identified the countries as Russia and China, which he characterized as “unfriendly,” and Israel, described as “friendly.”
These revelations occurred the day before the opening of Senate confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s choice to serve as Attorney General. Asked by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley whether he would investigate Mrs. Clinton’s misconduct, Sessions replied: “I believe that could place my objectivity in question. I believe the proper thing would be for me to recuse myself.”
Jan 11, 2017
In her melodramatic and much-discussed Golden Globes acceptance speech last Sunday evening, Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep offered unsolicited advice to President-elect Donald Trump while playing to the bottomless vanity of her Hollywood audience, whom she described as belonging to “the most vilified segments in American society right now.”
“Think about it,” Streep urged her wealthy and privileged colleagues, who needed little encouragement to indulge the pretense of being persecuted. “Hollywood. Foreigners. And the press.” Absent the redemptive influence of Hollywood and all it represents, she intoned, “you’ll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts.”
Streep’s self-satisfied panegyric to Hollywood played well in the room, but didn’t resonate with most of the population upon which the entertainment industry depends for its livelihood. Predictably, the President-elect at whom it was aimed – himself a former showbiz celebrity and “Reality TV” star – responded with a flurry of indignant Twitter posts in which he dismissed Steep as “one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood.”
Trump had expressed a decidedly different opinion of Streep in 2015, referring to her as an “excellent” actress and “a fine person, too.” Following her public criticism, Trump dismisses Streep as “a Hillary flunky who lost big” – which may be true, but this doesn’t alter the fact that when he takes the presidential oath Trump will promise to defend and protect her rights, as well as those of all the other citizens he has described as his “enemies.”
Jan 11, 2017
Lincoln County, Oregon resident James Richard Greene was arrested in 2012 after the motorized wheelchair he was operating struck the side of a moving pickup. A year later, the DA charged him with driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and won a conviction following a two-day trial. The state, taking a predictably expansive view of the statute, insisted that the wheelchair met the legal definition of a motor vehicle. However, a section of the statute pointedly ignored by the prosecutor defined “pedestrians” as “any person afoot or confined to a wheelchair.”
The Oregon Court of Appeals has overturned that conviction, ruling that at the time of the collision – which occurred inside a crosswalk – Greene was a pedestrian, not a motorist. Since the issue was not implicated in Greene’s case, the court did not offer an opinion regarding the legitimacy of a DUI prosecution involving the use of a motorized wheelchair in a public road or a public parking lot.
Portland attorney Ben Elder, who specializes in DUI defense, told the Oregonian newspaper that he had never heard of a case of that kind in more than a decade of practicing in Oregon.
“Several arrests in similar cases across the US in recent years have made national headlines,” observes the Oregonian. “That includes a 48-year-old Michigan man who was cited for DUII in October 2016 after police say he was drunk and backed his motorized scooter over some plants and into a Kroger store.”
Jan 11, 2017
When someone owns a piece of property, he or she has full control over it and all the uses that can be derived from it. Few, if any, citizens of the United States who have clear title to their private property actually own it, in the truest sense of the term. Property taxes effectively turn home owners into renters of the land and houses they have legally obtained. Through zoning ordinances and municipal land use codes, city and county governments exercise proprietary claims on those tracts of nominally private property. Those claims are violently enforced by state agents who assert the supposed authority to impose financial penalties on people who use their own property in a way not approved by municipal authorities – and kill any property owner who resists.
Amy McKinnon of Augusta, Georgia was recently sent to jail for 120 days for building a home on her own property for her sick mother. Code enforcement officials who presumed to regulate McKinnon’s use of her property had deigned to allow her to erect a gazebo in her yard, but cited her for having two structures on one parcel of land when it became clear that it had exceeded the 562 square feet anticipated for the gazebo.
McKinnon’s neighbor, Don Gilmore, denounced her half-completed home as “a monstrosity” and – displaying an attitude appropriate to a subject of Communist East Germany – applauded city officials for imprisoning his neighbor.
“I want to see this thing come down yesterday!” Gilmore told the local Fox affiliate.
Jan 11, 2017
Between 2003 and 2005, ExxonMobil allegedly conducted business in Iran in defiance of economic sanctions imposed by Washington, reports USA Today. This was during the period when Rex Tillerson, appointed by Donald Trump to serve as US Secretary of State, was CEO of the company. SEC filings unearthed by American Bridge, an opposition research group connected to the Democratic Party, showed $53.2 million in sales to Iran, as well as $1.1 million in business with Syria, during that three-year period.
The sales were conducted by a subsidiary called Infineum, which was based in Europe. ExxonMobil officials insist that the transactions did not violate the sanctions because they did not involve US employees.
Jan 10, 2017
This week, the US Institute of Peace (USIP) will convene a two-day gathering entitled “Passing the Baton 2017: America’s Role in the World.” Among the featured speakers at that event will be several of the most prominent advocates for foreign intervention and aggressive war – including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton, retired Lt. General and Trump National Security Advisor designate Michael Flynn, and incumbent National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
Albright is notorious for her blithe comment to 60 Minutes in 1995 that sanctions imposed on Iraq were “worth it” despite their role in killing an estimated half-million Iraqi children. She also promoted the 1999 US-led NATO terror bombing of Serbia, and on one occasion actually rebuked Colin Powell, at the time Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for his reluctance to commit US troops to foreign conflicts not directly related to national defense. Cotton, an Iraq War veteran, is a vociferous proponent of war with Iran. Flynn has been a “war on terror” hawk, and Rice has promoted both the Obama administration’s ongoing drone war and its disastrous military intervention in Libya.
Also on the program is an event entitled “A Conversation with Senator Lindsey Graham.” The South Carolina Republican is among the most conspicuous advocates of unlimited war in the Middle East, and a zealot for confrontation with Russia.
The tax-funded USIP, which was created during the Reagan administration, has been controlled since its inception by the so-called neoconservative faction, which eagerly promotes military adventurism abroad.
Jan 10, 2017
Medea Benjamin of the peace activist group Code Pink was a passionate critic of the Bush administration. Unlike most of her colleagues on the Left, however, she was also a critic of the Obama administration, ignoring partisan loyalty in favor of fidelity to her principles.
“While candidate Obama came to office pledging to end George W. Bush’s wars, he leaves office having been at war longer than any president in U.S. history,” writes Benjamin in the Guardian of London. “He is also the only president to serve two complete terms with the nation at war.”
Although Obama did reduce the number of U.S. ground troops deployed in both Iraq and Afghanistan – following through on plans made by his predecessor – “he dramatically expanded the air wars and the use of special operations forces around the globe,” Benjamin elaborates. “In 2016, US special operators could be found in 70 percent of the world’s nations, 138 countries – a staggering jump of 130 percent since the days of the Bush administration.”
In 2016 alone, the final year of Obama’s presidency, the US military dropped at least 26,171 bombs. This means that “every day last year, the US military blasted combatants or civilians overseas with 72 bombs; that’s three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day,” concludes Benjamin, summarizing the legacy of a president who began his first term by receiving the Nobel Peace Prize.
Jan 10, 2017
Under the ancient Old Testament Law of Moses, which is renowned for its severity, judges and other public officials who wrongfully convicted innocent people would be liable to the same punishment they inflict. In the contemporary American criminal justice system, courts frequently impose fines and other punishments even after defendants have been acquitted of all charges, or exonerated following a wrongful conviction.
The US Supreme Court on January 9 heard arguments in the case of Nelson v. Colorado, in which Shannon Nelson and Louis Alonzo Madden were initially convicted of child sexual abuse and then exonerated by an appeals court, which found that the verdict had been engineered through judicial misconduct. Both defendants had been required to pay extravagant sums for various fees prior to trial. The appeals court ordered that they be reimbursed, but the state Supreme Court reversed that decision, claiming that the victims weren’t entitled to restitution because they had not been sent to prison.
Legal Commentator Garret Epps notes that “there is no legal crime for which either [Nelson or Madden] owed fines or restitutios. Nonetheless, the [Colorado Supreme Court] said, Nelson and Madden were out of luck unless they could prove their innocence” – which was not their burden as defendants, and once they were exonerated on appeal the state was given the burden of proving their guilt. In an inversion of due process, Colorado’s brief focuses on the gravity of the accusations, rather than acknowledging the legal innocence of its now-exonerated victims.
Jan 10, 2017
Donald Trump incontestably benefited from leaked information during the 2016 presidential campaign, and both the Obama administration and the Hillary Clinton campaign were outraged by those disclosures. Weeks prior to his inauguration as president, however, Trump is already demanding “investigations of leaks to the press – an indication that he’ll emulate and possibly surpass President Obama’s practice of criminalizing disclosures to the media,” observes The Intercept.
Trump took to Twitter on January 6 to demand that “the chairs of the House and Senate committees … investigate top secret intelligence shared with NBC prior to me seeing it.” The NBC report actually digested a Washington Post story regarding the unclassified – and entirely uncorroborated – intelligence reports describing alleged Russian efforts to influence the US election. The Post did receive a leaked copy of the same report that was made available a few hours later – long after Trump could have seen the same material, had he chosen to do so.
Trump was not complaining about a security breach, but rather asking Republicans in Congress to use their open-ended investigative powers to retaliate against a news organization whose coverage had offended him. Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, who has been critical of the Obama administration’s civil liberties record, asks: “After January 20, will Trump be personally directing investigations whenever a news story annoys him?”
Jan 10, 2017
Tax victims in California will be forced to underwrite the surgeon-assisted sexual self-mutilation of a prison inmate calling himself Shiloh Heavenly Quine, who is serving a life sentence without prospect of parole for first-degree murder, kidnapping and robbery for ransom. After undergoing what officials call “sex-reassignment surgery” – which will modify the external signifiers of his sex, while leaving him male at a genetic level – Quine will be transferred to a women’s prison. He will there be surrounded by authentic female inmates, many of whom are serving convictions for non-violent offenses.
Quine was convicted of murdering Shahid Ali Baig, a 33-year-old father of three, in February 1980, in order to steal $80 and his car. California Department of Corrections official Terry Thornton insists that denying the murderer the privilege of taxpayer-assisted “sex reassignment” surgery would violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
Farida Baig, the daughter of Quine’s victim, contends that forcing tax victims to underwrite Quine’s unusual demand is a form of state-inflicted cruelty on the innocent.
“My dad begged for his life,” she recalls, saying that “it just made me dizzy and sick” to learn of the tax-funded transgender operation. “I’m helping pay for his surgery,” she continues. “I live in California. It’s kind of like a slap in the face.”
Jan 10, 2017
The US Constitution does not authorize the federal government to operate the election system, which is controlled through state governments and their subsidiaries. Because the Framers of the Constitution did not trust the central government to control the mechanism used to select congressmen, senators, and presidential electors, the power to conduct elections was reserved to the separate states through the Tenth Amendment.
With just weeks to go before the end of a presidency characterized by expansive contempt for the US Constitution, Barack Obama has approved a directive that designated the election system part of the country’s “vital” infrastructure.
“Given the vital role elections play in this country, it is clear that certain systems and assets of election infrastructure meet the definition of critical infrastructure,” insisted Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. The decision to nationalize the election system in defiance of constitutional prohibitions “came after months of review and despite opposition from many states,” notes ABC News. “It was announced the same day a declassified US intelligence report said Russian President Vladimir Putin `ordered’ an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election.”
That report did not claim that Russian hackers had infiltrated any element of the decentralized US election system. In fact, the only documented instance of an attempted cyber-infiltration was traced to the Department of Homeland Security by Georgia’s Secretary of State.
Jan 10, 2017
Owing to their concern over standing military establishments, the Framers of the Constitution limited congressional budget authorizations for the Army to two years apiece, while delegating to that body the power to “maintain” a Navy. This was because the Founders understood that a navy would be useful in defending the republic from foreign threats, and protecting citizens pursuing commercial interests overseas.
Since World War II, Washington has consistently maintained the largest and most active navy in history. In recent decades it has been increasingly used for power projection and involvement in foreign military conflicts not plausibly connected to defense of the country. Although Donald Trump has repeatedly called for a less interventionist foreign policy, he has likewise demanded that the Navy be expanded. As a result, notes the AP, “the Navy is proposing the biggest shipbuilding boom since the end of the Cold War to meet threats from a resurgent Russia and saber-rattling China.”
The service has outlined a 355-ship program that “is even larger than what [the President-elect] had promoted on the campaign trail,” which would include a new aircraft carrier, 16 large surface warships, 18 attack submarines, and additional amphibious assault ships, expeditionary transfer docks, and support ships.
Not surprisingly, this initiative is being touted as a Keynesian “boost to shipyards that have struggled because [of] budget caps that have limited … funding for ships,” the AP report continues. The new gusher of military funding would be directed at congressional districts in Virginia, Maine, Mississippi, Rhode Island, and other states.
Jan 10, 2017
A memo compiled by investigators for California Attorney General Kamala Harris accused Steven Mnuchin, the Goldman Sachs vet selected by Donald Trump to be Secretary of the Treasury, of repeatedly violating that state’s foreclosure laws between 2009 and 2015, reports the Intercept.
The AG’s Consumer Law Section identified over a thousand legal violations in one small subsection of loans issued by Mnuchin’s OneWest bank, and advised Harris to file a civil enforcement action against the lender. The 22-page memo contained a sample legal complaint that would seek injunctive relief and millions of dollars in penalties.
Mnuchin, through OneWest, has been accused of illegally foreclosing on thousands of homes. The memo compiled by the AG’s office also claimed that OneWest “obstructed the investigation by ordering third parties to refuse to comply with state subpoenas.”
Confronted by The Hill over her refusal to pursue the matter, Harris – who was elected to the Senate last November – declined to offer a substantive reply, dismissing the matter as “a decision my office made.”
Harris, once described by Barack Obama as his favorite state attorney general, has been touted by some Democratic Party activists as a rising figure and potential presidential candidate.
Jan 10, 2017
Several months after his parole on narcotics offenses, New York resident Kemal Lambus was required to wear an ankle bracelet to monitor his compliance with a curfew. He was assured that this arrangement would be ended after no more than six months – yet probation and parole officials unlawfully extended the tracking period to 791 days. This was done in the effort to gather evidence on Lambus and his associates, who were suspected of involvement in a drug trafficking syndicate.
A New York federal appeals court acknowledged that this open-ended monitoring was a clearly unconstitutional search.
“A state cannot use a parolee as a sort of fly paper, trailing him around the community for years, trolling for criminals,” wrote the court. Despite acknowledging that the officials who imposed these restrictions on Lambus behaved unlawfully, the court insisted on rewarding their criminal misconduct by refusing to suppress the evidence that was illegally obtained. The court justified that perverse ruling, in part, by describing the facially illegal monitoring as “a legitimate supervisory objective” and blaming the indigent defendant for not having the financial means to obtain competent legal representation.
“If Lambus had been represented by counsel during his parole, he might have challenged … this continuing search,” writes the court. “It is an unfortunate and common occurrence in our country that rights without counsel are no rights.”
One purpose of the appeals system, the court apparently forgot, is to vindicate the rights of citizens in such circumstances.
Jan 10, 2017
The advertised purpose of the justice system is to protect the lives and property rights of the citizens against criminal violence, whether from private actors or state officials. Within that framework the US Attorney General is responsible for carrying out what James Madison called the “few and defined” legal functions of the federal government, leaving most law enforcement functions within the “numerous and indefinite” powers reserved to the states.
During the Obama administration, many conservatives and law enforcement lobbying groups complained that Attorney General Eric Holder and his successor, Loretta Lynch, improperly expanded the federal role in state and local law enforcement. They contradictorily condemned the administration for its trivial reduction in the transfer of military-grade weapons and other war-fighting assets from the Pentagon to local police. Now that Donald Trump is poised to become president, the country’s largest police unions and lobbying groups -- the Fraternal Order of Police, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Association of Police Organizations, and the National Sheriffs Association -- have abandoned any pretense of opposition to federalization of law enforcement under an administration they anticipate will be more congenial to their interests.
According to The Hill, “Law enforcement groups view [Trump’s Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions] as someone who will bring a `police-first’ mentality to [the Justice Department] that they say was absent during President Obama’s eight years in office.”
Jan 10, 2017
The much-publicized intelligence report supposedly confirming Russian interference in the recent US election offers evidence of nothing but Washington’s hypocrisy, contends Daniel McAdams of the Ron Paul Institute.
One of the key contentions in the report is that the Russian government-funded RT news network helped influence public opinion. McAdams observes that “The Kremlin funds RT to the tune of $190 million per year … and its audience keeps growing. The report does not mention that the US government spends vastly more — $780 million for 2017 — on its worldwide propaganda effort through the government-funded Broadcasting Board of Governors.”
“Another problem the US spy agencies have with RT is that it reports on the surveillance state created by those same spy agencies,” McAdams continues. Washington’s intelligence organs complain that “RT’s reports often characterize the United States as a ‘surveillance state’ and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties.”
“So RT is guilty of being a Kremlin plot to undermine our freedom because it points out that the US government has already undermined our freedom,” McAdams sarcastically observes, noting as well that “National Intelligence Director James Clapper told the Senate [that] pointing out US government hypocrisy is itself indicative of a Russian influence operation in action.”
Jan 9, 2017
The 25-page unclassified intelligence assessment regarding alleged Russian efforts to undermine the 2016 US presidential election offers assertions, but no evidence. The much-discussed report offers a candid acknowledgment in its preface that it will not provide confirmation of the conclusions presented therein, while claiming that the CIA, NSA, and FBI all believe that the Russian government hacked into the Democratic National Committee’s computer network, stole a large volume of emails, and released them to the public in an effort to undermine the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Only two pages of the report deal with the actual mechanics of cyber-intrusions, without making a compelling case that the Russian government or its agents were involved in raiding the DNC’s computers. Rather than providing proof of its most incendiary claims, the report focuses on what it describes as motives for such an attack, and spends several pages examining the operations of the Russian government-controlled English-language RT media network. This section of the report, observes commentator Scott Shackford, is intended “to highlight how Russian propaganda is reaching American listeners.”
One prominent complaint lodged in the report is that RT supposedly subverted the two-party system by hosting a third-party presidential debate and provided a platform for activists who believe that the existing political cartel doesn’t serve the interests of the electorate. They also object to the network’s coverage of police abuse, domestic surveillance, and the increasing reliance of the Obama administration on drone warfare.
Rather than serving as a compelling indictment of Russian cyber-warfare, the intelligence report promotes the idea that political and media figures who criticize the abuses of the federal law enforcement and intelligence system are either paid or unwitting dupes of the Kremlin.
Jan 9, 2017
Syndicated columnist and former Fox News commentator Monica Crowley, chosen by President-elect Donald Trump to serve as senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council, “plagiarized large sections” of her 2012 book “What The (Bleep) Just Happened,” charges a feature story published by CNN. The network lists “upwards of 50 examples” of unattributed duplication in Crowley’s book, “including copying with minor changes of news articles, other columnists, think tanks, and Wikipedia.” The book, a New York Times best-seller published by HarperCollins, “contains no notes or bibliography.”
The allegations against Crowley strike a serious blow at both her character and her academic credibility. A member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Crowley holds a Ph.D in international relations from Columbia University. In her book she copied, almost verbatim, entire essays from other sources. Furthermore, this is not the first time she has been charged with plagiarism: In 1999, prior to receiving her doctorate, Crowley was accused of essentially duplicating a 1988 article published by the neoconservative journal Commentary.
Neither HarperCollins nor Crowley responded to CNN’s allegations. The Trump transition team expressed continued support for Crowley, insisting that her “exceptional insight and thoughtful work on how to turn this country around is exactly why she will be serving in the Administration…. Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country,” the transition team concluded.
Jan 9, 2017
Since the election, the Obama administration, the Clinton campaign, and most organs of the legacy media – aided now by the leading US intelligence agencies – have labored tirelessly to discredit all independent media as purveyors of “fake news.” This campaign is largely a reflection of political disgruntlement on the part of formerly complacent liberals, and professional jealousy on the part of their media allies. Regrettably, it can exploit occasional instances of sloppiness or dishonesty on the part of independent media figures – and the recent mass murder in Fort Lauderdale produced an example of that kind.
Infowars, the Gateway Pundit, the website of former Florida Republican Congressman Allen West, and countless Right-leaning social media accounts all retailed what was described as a contrast between an “un-doctored” photograph of accused murderer Esteban Santiago, and one supposedly used by CNN. The former showed a dusky-skinned young man of Latino ancestry; the second one had been over-exposed in such a fashion that he appeared to be Caucasian. The charge was the CNN deliberately altered the photograph to make the suspect appear white – the reverse of the notorious Time magazine cover story from 1994 in which OJ Simpson was made to appear darker.
At the time the story of the doctored Esteban Santiago photo was put into circulation, CNN had yet to air a picture of the suspect. Furthermore, the photograph used in the story that was given such extensive circulation in the Right-wing blogosphere was of another individual named Esteban Santiago – not the man allegedly responsible for the airport murder spree.
“Why is CNN attempting to make the shooter look more white? Bizarre,” wrote Infowars editor Paul Joseph Watson. “It appears CNN doctored the photo to make the suspect look more white – sad,” commented Gateway Pundit publisher Jim Hoft, who has a long track record of retailing misattributed photos and unreliable accounts.
Jan 9, 2017
Seeking to intimidate a California blogger and liberty activist into suppressing valuable information in the ongoing trials of Cliven and Ammon Bundy and their associates, the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office for Oregon have validated his reporting about undercover FBI informant-provocateurs.
Gary Hunt, a retired county land surveyor, is publisher of an independent media site called Outpost of Freedom, which began more than two decades ago as an independent newspaper. Hunt has run a lengthy series of articles called “Burns Chronicles,” discussing the protest occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, and the ensuing trials. During the trial of the first set of defendants, which ended in acquittals on all of the most serious charges, it was revealed that fifteen people associated with the 41-day protest had been paid informants for the FBI. His reporting has focused on several people named in FBI documents as Cooperating Human Informants (CHIs), including William Kullman, Mark McConnell, Thomas S. Dyman, and Robert Seever.
In anticipation of the federal trial for a second group of standoff defendants, federal prosecutors asked the judge to order Hunt to remove the material about FBI informant-provocateurs from his website. Contacted by FBI Special Agent Matthew Catalano, Hunt refused to delete the material, insisting that an existing protective order did not apply to journalists like himself and that under the Sixth Amendment the defendants have the right to confront their accusers in public.
Jan 9, 2017
Citing her “growing disenchantment” over the way climate alarmists have politicized her field, Dr. Judith Curry resigned as chair of the School and Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
One of the most deeply learned and careful researchers in a very rarefied field of specialists, Curry has spoken out against dogmatic claims that the climate science “is settled.” Science is a process in which researchers constantly test their assumptions, and all conclusions are provisional. Once conclusions are regarded as final, defending them is not science, but apologetics – in this case, defense of political policy disguised as science. Curry’s public exposure of the abundant uncertainties involved in climate science, and her resolute defense of sound methods of scientific inquiry, prompted accusations that she was “anti-science.”
“A deciding factor [in my resignation] was that I no longer know what to say to students and [post-doctorate researchers] regarding how to navigate the craziness in the field of climate science,” wrote Dr. Curry. “Research and other professional activities are professionally rewarded only if they are channeled in certain directions approved by a politicized academic establishment – funding, ease of getting your papers published, getting hired in prestigious positions, appointments to prestigious committees and boards, [and] professional recognition…. [H]ow young scientists are to navigate all this is beyond me, and if often becomes a battle of scientific integrity versus career suicide,” she laments.
Jan 9, 2017
Indiana Republican Senator Dan Coats, selected by President-elect Trump to serve as Director of National Intelligence, has a demeanor that has earned comparisons to the famously mild-mannered Mr. Rogers – yet his embrace of torture as an interrogation method might strike some as being akin to the notorious Inquisitor Torquemada.
“In the past, Coats has railed against President Barack Obama’s attempts to close” the Guantanamo Bay detention and torture facility, reports The Intercept, asserting that it has been “a valuable tool in our counterterrorism efforts.” He has derided the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into the CIA’s practice of torture as a “partisan account,” and was personally implicated in arranging the abduction, detention, and torture of German citizen Khaled Masri. As ambassador to Germany, Coats pressured the German minister of the interior to suppress information about the Masri case.
Chris Anders of the ACLU insists that the Senate should withhold action on the Coats nomination “until he comes clean on the cover-up of the kidnapping and torture of an innocent German citizen.”
Coats is also a hardliner toward Russia, and is banned from entering that country following his high-profile promotion of sanctions against Moscow for its annexation of Crimea.
Jan 9, 2017
According to the New York Times, federal law enforcement officials were aware of accused mass murderer Esteban Santigo prior to his rampage at the Fort Lauderdale Airport on January 6, and had been investigating whether he “was mentally disturbed and heard voices in his head telling him to commit acts of violence.”
An individual identified by the Times as “a senior law enforcement official” said that Santiago, a 26-year-old Iraq combat veteran, “walked into the F.B.I. office in Anchorage in November and made disturbing remarks that prompted officials to urge him to seek mental health care.” Appearing “agitated and incoherent,” the recently discharged soldier told FBI officials “that his mind was being controlled by a U.S. intelligence agency.”
Other officials said it was too early to tell whether Mr. Santiago, who was captured in the airport, had been inspired by terrorist groups, including the Islamic State. The officials said he had viewed extremist materials on the internet.
Relatives of Santiago have reported that he was receiving psychological treatment prior to the November incident in which he reached out to the FBI’s Anchorage field office. “How is it possible that the federal government knows [about his condition], they hospitalize him for only four days, and then give him his weapon back?” asked his incredulous brother, Bryan Santiago
Jan 9, 2017
Nat Hentoff, whose lengthy and variegated writing career included music criticism, novels, and unstinting defense of the Bill of Rights, died at age 91 “surrounded by family listening to Billie Holiday,” reported his son, Nick. Hentoff, a former syndicated columnist for the Washington Post and long-time featured writer for the liberal Village Voice, was also published in the conservative online journal WorldNetDaily, whoseeditor, Joseph Farah, referred to Hentoff as “America’s conscience” in a tribute published last fall.
“When people talk about old-school liberals who’d defend to the death your right to say anything you want, chances are good that Hentoff is the fellow they’ve got in mind,” declared Jesse Walker of the libertarian journal Reason. For decades, Hentoff “pounded away at the evils of censorship, and he didn’t care if the censor had a left-wing agenda or a right-wing one. If anything, he seemed especially perturbed when people he expected to share his values started stomping on individual liberties.”
A self-described “liberal atheist Jew,” Hentoff was also a passionate defender of the right to life and an outspoken opponent of abortion.
In an interview with John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, Hentoff excoriated Barack Obama, describing him as “much worse” that George W. Bush in his abuses of executive power.
“Obama seems to have no firm principles that I can discern that he will adhere to,” Hentoff observed. “His only principle is his own aggrandizement. This is a very dangerous mindset for a president to have.”
Jan 9, 2017
Last week witnessed a blockbuster revelation indicating that the driver of the hijacked truck that was used in a murderous terrorist attack at a Berlin Christmas market last under the control of German government informants, who had been planted within radical Islamic organizations.
Peter Schwartz of WSWS.org revealed that Anis Amri, the driver of the weaponized truck, was closely monitored by an undercover agent known as “VP,” who reportedly helped Amri with his plans.
“On Friday evening, the ARD television program `Focus’ (`Brennpunkt’) cited a file according to which an `informant’ (`VP’) for the North Rhine-Westphalian state criminal office had already made contact with Amri at the end of 2015,” reported Schwartz. “In the ensuing days, Amri stated that he wanted to carry out attacks in Germany using weapons of war (AK 47s, explosives).”
“Between February and March of 2016, Amri was driven from Dortmund to Berlin by a `secret informant for the Intelligence Service’ to whom he related his plans,” continues the account. “The note in the file adds: `He was driven by VP and stated that his mission was to kill on behalf of Allah.’”
Schwartz stated that this is but the latest example of state security forces that refrained from intervening and even protected alleged perpetrators of high-profile terrorist attacks. In every case, Schwartz points out, the attacks provided the pretext for building up the state apparatus increasing domestic surveillance and enhancing police state powers.
Jan 9, 2017
Both private eyewitnesses and government officials in the Middle East have implicated the US government as conscious supporters of radical Islamist groups in Syria -- including funding and arming ISIS, thereby escalating what increasingly appears to be an ersatz war on terror.
Most of these revelations, however, haven’t made it into the news diet of the ordinary Americans, and independent journalists have long maintained that this reflects biased coverage by major Western media organs that are aligned with US government official pronouncements and their agendas.
Last week, Turkey’s President Erdogan accused the US of “supporting and arming ISIS,” and said he has "confirmed evidence" to back up his claim, reported the independent news commentary site Zerohedge.com: "They give support to terrorist groups including ISIS" Erdogan said during a speech in Ankara on Tuesday, adding that US coalition forces "give support to terrorist groups including Daesh, YPG, PYD. It's very clear. We have confirmed evidence, with pictures, photos and videos."
Predictably, the Obama administration has denied Erdogan's allegations, and accused Turkey of spreading "fake news,” while ignoring other accounts from sources in and around Syria that have reported the same US covert support for the radical elements fighting in Syria.
Jan 9, 2017
Every Israeli prime minister since Menachem Begin has been accused of, or involved in, serious corruption scandals. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, for instance, was forced to step down in 2008 over corruption allegations, for which he has since been indicted.
Now investigations are ongoing against Benjamin Netanyahu, reports the Associated Press: “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was grilled by police investigators for over three hours at his official residence Monday night, opening what could be a politically damaging criminal investigation into suspicions that he improperly accepted gifts from wealthy supporters.”
A report from Israel’s Channel 2 TV claims that Netanyahu stands accused of accepting "`favors’ from businessmen in Israel and abroad and that he is the central suspect in a second investigation that also involves family members.”
Geopolitical analyst Joel Skousen is inclined to believe the charges and suspects it is just “the tip of the iceberg.”
“Netanyahu has long been the recipient of globalist favors ever since the Kissinger group paid for his US education and set him up in an office on Wall Street,” Skousen recounts. “Netanyahu came to Israel with very little money and is now extremely wealthy. It’s the same way Barack Obama became wealthy in office after having only made $60K a year as a community organizer.”
Jan 9, 2017
Cash is a fluid medium of exchange that is completely anonymous and untraceable—traits that concern centralized planners in government who want the ability to track, tax or restrict every business negotiation. Their increasing effort to ban or reduce cash and rely solely on credit and debit cards has been called a “war on cash.” The first step toward a cashless society is to eliminate large denomination bills, thus forcing all high-end purchases into traceable transactions. $1,000 and $500 bills were eliminated back in 1969, and similar efforts are underway against the €500 and CH1,000 notes but Americans have thus far resisted retiring the $100 bills in circulation.
That hasn’t stopped US-based globalists from “practicing” on other countries first, says German researcher Norbert Haring. He traces an ill-conceived plan by the Indian government to eliminate their two largest denomination bills to negotiations between USAID under the deceptive title “Catalyst: Inclusive Cashless Payment Partnership” to supposedly create “a quantum leap in cashless payment in India.” Nearly 80 percent of circulating cash by value was retired in a short timeframe in India and the subsequent disruption was terribly painful to the poorer classes.
On November 8, Haring recalls, “Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the two largest denominations of banknotes could not be used for payments any more with almost immediate effect. Owners could only recoup their value by putting them into a bank account before the short grace period expired at year end, which many people and businesses did not manage to do, due to long lines in front of banks. The amount of cash that banks were allowed to pay out to individual customers was severely restricted. Almost half of Indians have no bank account and many do not even have a bank nearby. The economy is largely cash based. Thus, a severe shortage of cash ensued. Those who suffered the most were the poorest and most vulnerable. They had additional difficulty earning their meager living in the informal sector or paying for essential goods and services like food, medicine or hospitals. Chaos and fraud reigned well into December.”
The plan backfired. After significant economic disruption the experiment appears to be failing, leading some to hope that other countries will be more resistant to the US war against cash.
Jan 9, 2017
At the US Capitol complex, each congressman is allowed to submit artwork from his district for public viewing, but one piece showing police officers as pigs in the middle of black protestors is drawing criticism from more than just art critics. Congressional Democrat Lacy Clay from a district in St. Louis chose to elevate the painting by a local high school senior despite the obvious institutional slur against police.
Policemen assigned to security duties at the Capitol and local police unions predictably expressed outrage over the caricature, and Congressional Republicans are protesting it as unnecessarily inflammatory and demeaning.
“It is disheartening to see this depiction of law enforcement hanging in the hallway of our nation's Capitol where officers work every day to protect our safety and freedoms,” Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., told The Independent Journal Review. “Unfortunately, many people of influence have taken part in promoting offensive and inaccurate caricatures of the very people who do the most to protect our families.”
One resident of St Louis observed that “If any other ethnic, religious, or work group were depicted this way, the art piece would be determined to be `hate speech,’ and removed from the wall, and the artist subject to criminal and civil penalties. Everyone is calling for better police-community relations, and in ST. Louis, I have seen the beginning of this through many efforts. But if this teenage ‘artist’ is allowed to scapegoat police, it only sets us back,” he concludes.
Jan 6, 2017
Four young Chicago males and one female are in police custody and being questioned in connection with the abduction and torture of a mentally disabled man in an incident that was live-streamed on Facebook. The video depicted a visibly terrified young white man who had been tied up and was bleeding from the head while his captors – who are black – beat him and assail him with racist abuse and profane references to Donald Trump. At one point the suspects express the hope that the video will go viral.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi describes the video as “reprehensible. It’s sickening. You know it makes you wonder what would make individuals treat somebody like that.”
The victim, who was found walking alone in shorts, despite severe cold, is believed to have been the classmate of one of the suspects.
The political and racial content of the video has prompted many commentators to describe the offense as a hate crime. Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson initially insisted that the evidence for such a charge hadn’t been found.
“I think some of it is just stupidity, people just ranting about something that they think might make a headline,” he observed, underscoring the recorded statements by suspects about wanting to create a viral video. “I don’t think we have anything concrete to really point us in that direction, but we’ll keep investigating and we’ll let the facts guide us on how this concludes,” added Johnson. Hate crimes charges were eventually filed against the suspects.
Jan 6, 2017
When Napoleon Bonaparte was named emperor in December 1804, he took the crown from Pope Pius VII and placed it on his own head. He thereby signified that there was none worthy to confer that title but himself – not even the religious official widely recognized as the Vicar of Christ.
As his presidency expires, Barack Obama has had what could be called a “Napoleon Moment” in which he effectively awarded himself the Pentagon’s Distinguished Public Service medal. The actual award was conferred by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter during the Armed Forces Full Honor Farewell Review at Commy Hall in Virginia’s Joint Base Myer-Henderson.
A military award ribbon similar to those given to active-duty military personnel, the Distinguished Civilian Service Award is the highest commendation of its kind given by the military to civilians. The Defense Department explains that the award “is presented to a small number of civilian employees whose careers reflect exceptional devotion to duty and significant contributions of broad scope in policy, scientific, technical or administrative fields that increase effectiveness and efficiency.”
Mr. Obama, of course, is not a Defense Department employee or technical advisor. In effect, this commendation represents the boss giving himself an award.