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The 20 Surest Paths to Impeachment

Fri, 2019-04-19 20:26

Letting a ruler get away with power grabs and abuses guarantees that worse will come, from him or from his successors. This is the lesson of the failure to impeach recent U.S. presidents. For those who haven’t understood this yet, here’s a helpful FAQ.

Now, here are the 20 surest ways to impeach Trump:

1. Violation of Constitution on Domestic Emoluments
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has illegally received emoluments from the United States government and from individual state governments.

The Constitutional ban on domestic emoluments (Article II, Section 1) is absolute, not waivable by Congress, and not subject to proving any particular corrupting influence.

President Trump’s lease of the Old Post Office Building in Washington D.C. violates the General Services Administration lease contract which states: “No … elected official of the Government of the United States … shall be admitted to any share or part of this Lease, or to any benefit that may arise therefrom.” The GSA’s failure to enforce that contract constitutes an emolument. A January 16, 2019, report by the Inspector General of the General Services Administration confirmed this.

Since 1980 Trump and his businesses have garnered, according to the New York Times, “$885 million in tax breaks, grants and other subsidies for luxury apartments, hotels and office buildings in New York.” Those subsidies from the state of New York have continued since President Trump took office and constitute emoluments. The Trump organization receives emoluments from other states as well.

In these and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

2. Violation of Constitution on Foreign Emoluments
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has illegally received emoluments from foreign governments. Foreign emoluments are banned by the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 9).

Donald J. Trump’s business has licensing deals with two Trump Towers in Istanbul, Turkey. Donald J. Trump has stated: “I have a little conflict of interest, because I have a major, major building in Istanbul.”

China’s state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China is the largest tenant in Trump Tower in New York City. It is also a major lender to the Trump organization. Its rent payments and its loans put President Trump in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

Foreign diplomats, including the Embassy of Kuwait, have changed their Washington D.C. hotel and event reservations to Trump International Hotel following Donald J. Trump’s election to public office.

In these and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

3. Incitement of Violence
In his conduct while President of the United States, and while campaigning for election to that office, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has illegally incited violence within the United States.

A partial sampling of public statements by candidate Donald J. Trump:
“If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them. I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees.”

“You know what I hate? There’s a guy, totally disruptive, throwing punches, we’re not allowed to punch back anymore. I love the old days—you know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

“See the first group, I was nice. Oh, take your time. The second group, I was pretty nice. The third group, I’ll be a little more violent. And the fourth group, I’ll say get the hell out of here!”

“I’d like to punch him in the face, I tell ya.”

“He was swinging, he was hitting people, and the audience hit back. That’s what we need more of.”

Numerous incidents of violence followed these and other similar comments. John Franklin McGraw punched a man in the face at a Trump event, and then told Inside Edition that “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.” Donald J. Trump said that he was considering paying McGraw’s legal bills.

Since Trump’s election and inauguration, his comments appearing to incite violence have continued, as have incidents of violence in which those participating in violence have pointed to Trump as justification.

On July 2, 2017, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a video of himself body slamming a man with an image of “CNN” superimposed on him.

In August 2017, participants in a racist rally in Charlottesville, Va., credited President Trump with boosting their cause. Their violence included actions that led to a murder charge. President Trump publicly minimized the offense and sought to blame “many sides.”

In April 2019, weeks after one of his supporters was arrested by the FBI for threatening to shoot Congresswoman Ilhan Omar in the head, President Trump tweeted a misleading and inflammatory video promoting just the sort of hatred toward Omar that the man arrested had expressed.

In these and similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

4. Interference With Voting Rights
In his conduct while President of the United States, and while campaigning for election to that office, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has engaged in acts of voter intimidation and suppression.

For months leading up to the November 2016 elections, Donald J. Trump publicly encouraged his supporters, the same ones he had encouraged to engage in violence, to patrol polling places in search of participants in the virtually nonexistent practice of voter fraud. In so doing, candidate Trump made would-be voters aware that they might face such patrols. His remarks included:
“I hope you people can sort of not just vote on the 8th, go around and look and watch other polling places, and make sure that it’s 100 percent fine.”

“We’re going to watch Pennsylvania. Go down to certain areas and watch and study and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times.”

Trump urged supporters to target Philadelphia, St. Louis, and other cities with large minority populations.

He created on his campaign website a way to sign up to “volunteer to be a Trump election observer.”

When early voting began, incidents were reported of Trump supporters photographing voters and otherwise intimidating them.

Trump ally and advisor Roger Stone formed an activist group called Stop the Steal that acted in line with Trump’s public statements. The group appeared to threaten violence against delegates if the Republican Party denied Trump its nomination. It then organized intimidation efforts in the general election around the unsupported claim that Trump’s opponents would somehow “flood the polls with illegals. Liberal enclaves already let illegals vote in their local and state elections and now they want them to vote in the Presidential election.”

According to the U.S. Department of Justice in 2006, in all federal elections from 2002 to 2005, a total of 26 people out of 197 million were convicted of trying to vote illegally.

Stone’s organization created official-looking ID badges for volunteers and asked them to videotape voters, and conduct phony exit polls in nine cities with large minority populations.

One such volunteer, Steve Webb of Ohio, told the Boston Globe, “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

Since becoming president, Donald J. Trump has continued with voter intimidation efforts. He has created a Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which has sent letters to states requesting sensitive voter information. Most states have refused. But thousands of people have canceled their registrations rather than have their information turned over to Trump’s administration.

In these and similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

5. Discrimination Based On Religion
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has engaged in acts of discrimination in violation of the First Amendment and other laws by seeking to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

Donald J. Trump had openly campaigned for office promising a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Once in office, he created an executive order that his advisor Rudy Giuliani, said on Fox News had been drafted after Trump had asked him for the best way to create a Muslim ban “legally.” The order targeted several majority-Muslim countries for restrictions on immigration to the United States, but made allowances for people of minority religions within those countries. Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network that Christian refugees would be given priority. When a federal court stopped this order from taking effect, President Trump issued a new one containing, in the words of his advisor Stephen Miller “minor technical differences.”

In these actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

6. Illegal War
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has waged numerous wars in violation of the United Nations Charter and of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, both treaties part of the Supreme Law of the United States under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.

President Trump and his subordinates attempted to mislead the U.S. public and Congress about justifications for wars, including by claiming to have knowledge that the Syrian government used chemical weapons, as well as by falsely stating the number of U.S. troops deployed to various wars.

President Trump has escalated bombing campaigns in Iraq and Syria, resulting in large numbers of civilian deaths. After campaigning for office in opposition to the war on Afghanistan, Trump has effectively made it a permanent operation. President Trump spoke at the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency on January 23, 2017, and promoted an illegal policy of waging wars for the theft of resources. Trump has overseen the U.S. military’s collaboration in the illegal bombing of Yemen by Saudi Arabia, in violation of the Leahy Law and resulting in a severe humanitarian crisis.

By these actions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

7. Illegal Threat of Nuclear War
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has flagrantly threatened nuclear war (“fire and fury”) against North Korea, in violation of the United Nations Charter, a treaty that is part of the Supreme Law of the United States under Article VI of the U.S. Constitution.

By this action, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

8. Abuse of Pardon Power
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has issued a pardon for former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona, Joe Arpaio, who had been convicted of contempt for failure to comply with a court order in a case charging him with racial discrimination.

Arpaio was open about his commission of the underlying crime, for which he was found guilty in a civil suit. His contempt conviction was for continuing to engage in racial profiling, violating an order to cease doing so.

Arpaio set up a prison that he called a concentration camp. It had a high death rate with deaths often unexplained. He enclosed Latino prisoners with electric fencing.

By this action, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

9. Obstruction of Justice
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has obstructed justice.

The day after President Trump was briefed by White House Counsel on dishonest statements by then-National Security Advisor Michael Flynn who was being investigated by the FBI, Trump met with the director of the FBI James Comey and demanded his personal loyalty. Two weeks later Trump asked Comey to drop the investigation. Later still, Trump fired Comey. By Trump’s own words (http://nbcnews.to/2s0iLJq), his motivation was at least partly to obstruct the investigation.

By this action, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

10. Politicizing Prosecutions
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has directed or endeavored to direct law enforcement, including the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to investigate and prosecute political adversaries and others — and to not prosecute political allies — for improper purposes not justified by any lawful function of his office, thereby eroding the rule of law, undermining the independence of law enforcement from politics, and compromising the constitutional right to due process of law.

On the Friday before Election Day 2017, the president issued a remarkable series of public statements, including on Twitter, pressuring the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party, and other political adversaries.

Earlier, the president had called Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl a “dirty, rotten traitor” while court-martial charges were pending.

On September 3, 2018, President Donald J. Trump tweeted this: “Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not enough time. Good job Jeff…” This cannot be read but as potentially influencing the current or a future Attorney General or others in law enforcement to politicize prosecutions.

In 1940, Attorney General (later Supreme Court Justice) Robert Jackson warned that “the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power” was “picking the man and then . . . putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him.” A chief executive who uses law enforcement to persecute political enemies is characteristic of a banana republic, not a constitutional republic. That is why Republican and Democratic presidents alike have respected the independence of law enforcement. In the case of military courts-martial, such as Bergdahl’s, this limit is formalized in the prohibition of “command influence.”

Congress set a precedent with the second article of impeachment against President Richard Nixon, which cited, in its fifth specification, his use of federal investigative agencies against political opponents. Following this precedent, the president’s attempts to employ the criminal investigative powers of the federal government against political opponents “for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office” are grounds for impeachment, even if they did not succeed in influencing law enforcement.

By this action, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

11. Collusion Against the United States with a Foreign Government
In his conduct while President-Elect of the United States, Donald J. Trump and his transition team lobbied foreign governments, including those of Egypt and Russia on behalf of the government of Israel.

Trump advisor Michael Flynn has lied to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about talking, pre-inauguration, to Russia (and other countries) on behalf of the government of Israel, allegedly at the instruction of Jared Kushner, who reportedly took his direction from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prime Minister Netayahu wanted Russia to block or delay a UN resolution against illegal Israeli settlements, because then-President of the United States Barack Obama had chosen not to veto it. News reports in December 2016 said that Russia, while it did not veto, did try to delay the vote. Also, in December 2016, the government of Egypt said it had delayed the vote because President-Elect Trump had phoned the president of Egypt on behalf of Israel.

In these actions and decisions, Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

12. Failure to Reasonably Prepare for or Respond to Hurricanes Harvey and Maria
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, which was established to “provide for the common defense,” and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has failed to reasonably prepare for events like Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria or to adequately respond to those hurricanes.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was without a new director until June 2017. The National Hurricane Center was without a head from May 2017 through the time of Hurricane Harvey in August. On August 15, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that rejected the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, which had been established by executive order in 2015, and which required that infrastructure be built to withstand flooding. He already had disbanded the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, and withdrawn the United States from the Paris climate agreement. When Hurricane Harvey hit, President Donald Trump did not engage in rescue and recovery operations on the scale required. His subordinates at FEMA proposed that private individuals fund and perform those tasks on their own.

When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September 2017, and for the months that followed, President Trump refused significant aid, despite widespread devastation, lack of electricity, and lack of medical care that, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2018, left over 4,600 people dead. For weeks Trump even blocked aid to Puerto Rico from other nations, refusing to waive the Jones Act as he had done following Hurricane Harvey, even as numerous experts predicted the sort of death and suffering that resulted.

By these actions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and the world. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office. (back to top)

13. Separating Children and Infants from Families
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has overseen the work of his subordinates who have forcibly separated thousands of refugee children and infants from their families, imprisoned them in inhumane conditions including on military bases and in the private facilities of military contractors, denied access to these sites sought by members of Congress, failed to meet or even to plausibly attempt to meet a court-imposed deadline to reunite children with their families, and defended these policies with hate-inspiring rhetoric almost certainly resulting in additional violence and cruelty by government employees and private individuals alike (see also Article of Impeachment on “Incitement of Violence”).

In these actions, Donald J. Trump has abused his high office and violated numerous legal requirements in an explicit effort to punish and deter people who in many cases stand accused of no legal violations themselves, and in other cases are accused of a misdemeanor. These actions by President Trump have violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the United States is party, the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which every other nation on earth is party, the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and the Due Process clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court has maintained that “the interest of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by [the] Court.” President Trump’s subsequent Executive Order stating that families would be imprisoned as groups, rather than being separated, would have failed to bring him into compliance with international law or the Constitution even if implemented.

On September 6, 2018, the Trump administration announced a new rule that would allow immigrant children with their parents to be imprisoned indefinitely, in violation of a 1997 court settlement agreement that limits the imprisonment of children to 20 days.

In these actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States and people seeking asylum and refuge in the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

14. Illegally Attempting to Influence an Election
While campaigning for the office of President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, according to the sworn testimony and the guilty plea of his attorney Michael Cohen, engaged in a criminal conspiracy to buy the silence of individuals, and did so with the intent of influencing the election and in violation of campaign finance laws.

On August 21, 2018, Cohen admitted in federal court that he had paid Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal to silence them before the 2016 election at Donald J. Trump’s “direction.” Cohen said he acted “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office” and “for the principal purpose of influencing the election.” This testimony implicates Donald J. Trump in the crime of conspiring to make an excessive and illegal campaign contribution. It also implicates him in the high crime and misdemeanor of attempting to fraudulently influence — and quite possibly successfully influence — the outcome of a U.S. presidential election. As President, he lied about and tried to cover-up his wrongdoing.

In this action, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

15. Tax Fraud and Public Misrepresentation
In his conduct prior to assuming the office of President of the United States, Donald J. Trump engaged in extensive tax fraud which served as the basis for his dramatic misrepresentation to the public of his accomplishments.

According to evidence and documentation made public by the New York Times and not countered by President Trump, he and his siblings committed numerous felonies in the course of obtaining wealth from their father while paying approximately 5% rather than the 55% in taxes that the law required.

They did this, in part, by undervaluing properties, a crime known as appraisal fraud. Donald Trump and his siblings claimed that properties given them by their father were worth $41.4 million, but sold those properties for over 16 times that amount during the next decade.

Another crime employed was transfer pricing. Trump and his siblings massively overcharged their father’s companies for largely nonexistent services in order to both obtain his wealth and reduce his profits. The reduction in profits allowed Trump’s father to increase the rent he charged people for publicly subsidized, rent-controlled properties.

Through these and other fraudulent activities, Donald Trump was made wealthy by the transfer of money from his father. In the analysis of one expert, if Trump had simply invested that money in a simple investment fund, he would now have the $10 billion he falsely claimed to have as a candidate for president. In reality, Trump lost a fortune through business failures. As a candidate, however, by lying about his wealth and the origins of his wealth, Donald Trump misled voters to believe that, while he had no political record he did have a very successful business record. Trump falsely claimed to have received only $1 million from his father which he had been required to pay back “with interest.”

In these and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

16. Assaulting Freedom of the Press
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has repeatedly undermined the freedom of the press.

President Trump has threatened to use libel law to go after media outlets that have displeased him. On March 30, 2017, he tweeted: “The failing @nytimes has disgraced the media world. Gotten me wrong for two solid years. Change libel laws?” On April 30, 2017, his then chief of staff Reince Priebus confirmed that changing libel laws is “something we’ve looked at,” adding that “newspapers and news agencies need to be more responsible with how they report the news.” On July 2, 2017, President Donald J. Trump tweeted a video of himself body slamming a man with an image of “CNN” superimposed on him.

President Trump has threatened to remove broadcasting licenses from media outlets that have displeased him. On October 11, 2017, he tweeted: ‘‘With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!’’ and ‘‘Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!’’

President Trump’s White House, on February 24, 2017, barred certain news media — CNN, the New York Times, the L.A. Times, and Politico — from attending a White House press briefing. In June 2017, his administration prohibited video recordings of White House press briefings. In November 2018, his administration suspended the press credential of CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, falsely accusing him of “placing his hands” on a white house intern.

President Trump has repeatedly referred to news media as “the enemy of the people,” while expressing his desire that journalistic activity be stifled.  For example: On February 17, 2017, Trump tweeted: ‘‘The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!’’. On July 22, 2017, Trump tweeted: “A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post,this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions.These illegal leaks, like Comey’s, must stop!”

President Trump’s rhetoric has encouraged authoritarian foreign governments to attack the very U.S. media that Trump criticizes, endangering not only press freedoms but the lives and safety of American journalists. On May 2, 2017, just ahead of World Press Freedom Day, the Committee to Protect Journalists noted that “President Trump’s oft-tweeted ‘fake news’ epithet, for example, had already been adopted by repressive governments such as China, Syria, and Russia. When Trump verbally attacked a correspondent during a February press conference, he was cheered by Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the world’s worst jailer of journalists.

When Saudi Arabia murdered U.S./Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, President Trump made extensive efforts to deny the evidence and to prevent or minimize the consequences to the Saudi government, even while continuing his usual verbal attacks on U.S. journalists.

President Trump’s subordinates locked up U.S./Iranian journalist Marzieh Hashemi with no charges or trial as a “material witness.”

President Trump’s Department of Justice has indicted Australian publisher Julian Assange for unknown charges, after spending months trying to figure out some way to prosecute him for the act of journalism.

President Trump has nominated for U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who stated at his confirmation hearings that he might jail journalists for doing their job if that job “hurt the country.”

Freedom of the press is enshrined in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. As Justice Black observed in New York Times Co. v. United States, “In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”

A president is certainly free to criticize particular news stories and outlets that he believes are inaccurate — and no above-cited tweet or statement, standing in isolation, would constitute an impeachable offense. However, President Trump’s consistent pattern of verbal attacks against journalists and his administration’s actions to retaliate against and exclude journalists, combined with threats to take governmental action against news outlets, crosses a line.

In the above and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

17. Supporting a Coup in Venezuela
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,”

And in his conduct while Vice President of the United States, Michael Richard Pence, in violation of his oath to faithfully execute the office of Vice President of the United States and to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,

have damaged the rule of law and endangered international security by supporting a coup attempt in Venezuela.

On the evening of January 22, 2019, following years of damaging U.S. sanctions against Venezuela, which followed an unsuccessful 2002 U.S.-supported coup attempt, Vice President Pence reportedly called Juan Guaidó and told him that the United States would support him if he were to seize power in Venezuela. The next day, January 23, Guaidó attempted to do so. That same day, President Trump issued a statement recognizing Guaidó as the President of Venezuela, despite the fact that Venezuela had an elected president and that Guaidó had no legitimate claim to the presidency. On January 24, 2019, the Trump-Pence administration attempted unsuccessfully to persuade the Organization of American States to recognize Guaidó as president.

In the above and related actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Michael Richard Pence have acted in a manner contrary to their trust as President and Vice President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump and Michael Richard Pence, by such conduct, are guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

18. Unconstitutional Declaration of Emergency
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has declared a national emergency, in the absence of any actual emergency, for the purpose of spending money on a border wall that had been appropriated for other purposes.

In so acting, President Trump has violated Article 1, Section 7 of the United States Constitution: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives . . . .” He has also, in so acting, violated Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law . . . .” The same action also violates the Federal Anti-Deficiency Statute. By using the United States military to enforce immigration law, President Trump’s announced plan would also violate the Posse Comitatus Act.

In addition, President Trump has abused his power by publicly promoting this action using a series of falsehoods encouraging fear, bigotry, and hatred. He has falsely suggested that immigrants commit crimes at a higher rate than non-immigrants, that illegal border crossings have been increasing in recent years, that terrorist groups have sent operatives to enter the United States through Mexico, and that applying for asylum is a threatening or criminal action.

In these and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

19. Instructing Border Patrol to Violate the Law
In his conduct while President of the United States, Donald J. Trump, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” has directed U.S. Border Patrol agents to violate the law.

On April 5, 2019, President Trump, while visiting Calexico, California, reportedly told Border Patrol agents to defy U.S. law and refuse to allow migrants into the United States. The President went further, instructing Border Patrol agents to lie to a judge if charged with violating the law. “If judges give you trouble, say, ‘Sorry, judge, I can’t do it. We don’t have the room,’” said the President. Upon the President’s departure, Border Patrol officials instructed their agents that, contrary to the President’s instructions, they were required to obey the law.

President Trump went further still, informing Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, according to “senior administration officials” who spoke with CNN, that he would “grant McAleenan a pardon if he were sent to jail for having border agents block asylum seekers from entering the U.S. in defiance of US law.”

Paralleling his lawless efforts to keep refugees and immigrants out of the United States, President Trump continued to promote his policy of separating infants and children from families (see separate Article of Impeachment), and proposed shipping and releasing imprisoned refugees to particular parts of the United States for reasons of electoral politics, not human welfare.

In these and many similar actions and decisions, President Donald J. Trump has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President Donald J. Trump, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.(back to top)

20. Resurrect Russiagate No Matter What It Takes and If It Distracts Us All from the 19 Clearcut Charges Above, Keeps Trump in Office, or Gets Us All Killed, Well That’s Just the Price We’ll Have to Pay Because, You Know, . . . PUTIN!

The Next Financial Crisis Won’t Be Caused by Fraud: This Time Will Be Different

Fri, 2019-04-19 10:01

Financial crises come in two flavors: fraud and credit-valuation over-reach.Fraud-based financial crises may differ in particulars, but they share many traits: perverse incentives are institutionalized; the perverse incentives reward figuring out how to evade oversight via fraud, embezzlement, masking risk, etc. which are soon commoditized; regulations are gutted by insider-funded lobbying; regulators fail to do their job in hopes of getting lucrative positions in the industry they’re supposed to be regulating; reports of systemic, commoditized fraud are ignored because everyone’s getting rich, and so on.

The resolution has to 1) eliminate the perverse incentives that fueled the crisis; 2) institutionalize oversight that actually functions to limit dangerous excesses and 3) all the malinvestment / bad debt must be liquidated and the losses taken / distributed.

Correspondent David E. recently sent me this insightful outline of how the Texas Savings & Loan financial crisis arose and was slowly and painfully resolved in the 1980s:

“The S&L crisis provides an excellent example of both how to make a problem worse and how to resolve it in the end. (note: I watched this play out in Texas; some of your readers may have a different perspective).

1. Prior to the mid-1970s, S&Ls lived by the 3-6-3 rule – pay depositors 3%; make home loans at 6%; and be on the golf course at 3 o’clock. This cozy little world had been in place since the 1950s.

2. Inflation in the 70s wrecked this calculation. The loans (long term home mortgages) still paid 6%, but the S&L’s were having to pay the depositors more – often more than the 6% they were making on the loans. Bankruptcy loomed.

3. The S&L owners were some of the more prominent local business people, especially in smaller towns scattered across the US – and more importantly, in Congressional districts scattered across the US.

4. They went to Congress and said, “we’re in trouble, but if we could only invest in commercial real estate, we could grow our way out of this mess, and it won’t cost the taxpayer a dime.”

5. Congress, faced with a $50 billion problem as well as the prospect of alienating multitudes of prominent local citizens, agreed, and thus kicked the can down the road.

6. At least in Texas, this is when the “cowboys” moved in. The smarter S&L owners saw what was happening and realized the game was up. They sold their institutions to the cowboys (and the smart ones took the highest cash offer, ignoring any stock or profit-sharing).

7. The predictable and well documented abuses took off (“fiduciary pornography” in the words of one regulator afterward).

8. Things went on for a few years but were beginning to unravel even before the Saudis flooded the oil market in early 1986 and drove the price of crude down to $9.

9. Now for what was done right – if only by accident. Texas was the first to tumble, and people in other states remembered our oil boom bumper stickers. “Drive 90 and freeze a Yankee” among others. As a result, there was ZERO sympathy for Texas’ economic problems.

10. Federal regulators thus had a free hand to clean house. Even large banks were declared insolvent. Shareholders lost everything. Over 1000 bank executives went to prison. I personally know at least two who slithered free in the end, but many did not. A lawyer friend spent a couple of years in the late 1980s doing little other than foreclosing houses in Highland Park (old money Dallas).

11. It was a rough 3-4 years in Texas, but two decades of accumulated rot had been burned away, setting the stage for the economic boom that followed.

The other big factor was the tax reform of 1986. People today need to be more cognizant of what really happens when marginal rates go up to 70%. Do the rich pay more tax? NO. Instead the world becomes infested with tax shelters and other avoidance schemes, which produce tremendous waste.

In late 70s/early 80s Texas, a lot of this tax shelter money intersected with the S&L pirates in the form of commercial real estate, especially apartment complexes, in an orgy of malinvestment. I still remember the TV ads in Houston marketing yuppie-villes: gorgeous women in bikinis by the pool, and one unending party. After the bust, these complexes turned into Section 8 housing almost overnight and many remained blighted for a couple of decades before they were finally torn down.

If the next bust starts out affecting only one region, there may be a chance to do the right thing (basically, let her rip and things will settle out on their own). But that didn’t happen in 2008, and probably won’t happen next time.”

Thank you, David, for a very insightful summary of how financial crises arise and how the scale of the crisis affects the resolution: in 2008, banking had become so centralized and the fraud/leverage so extreme that the implosion of a relatively marginal slice of the mortgage market (subprime mortgages) triggered a loss of faith and liquidity that very nearly brought down the entire global financial system.

Rather than clean house, politicos bailed out the banks and regulators added new regulations that left the system essentially unchanged. As was easily predictable, the regulations increased the banks’ costs and created incentives to move mortgage origination into non-bank (and thus less regulated) entities.

Interestingly, modern financial crises seem to oscillate between fraud and over-reach: the S&L crisis resulted from the commoditization of mortgage fraud, the 2000 dot-com crash resulted from extremes of over-valuation and margin debt, the 2008 Global Financial Meltdown resulted from the globalized commoditization of securitization fraud, and now the pins are being set up for the next financial crisis triggered by extremes of credit and overvaluation.

The dot-com meltdown arose from unprecedented extremes of overvaluation for tech companies profitable and unprofitable alike. High levels of margin debt ensured that the sell-off would gather steam as punters were forced to liquidate portfolios to meet margin calls.

The dot-com meltdown was famously concentrated in the tech sector: while certainly a major part of the economy, tech and the Internet high-flyers were still a relatively modest share of total assets: all stocks, all bonds, all real estate, etc.

Sector rotation enabled capital to be preserved. As the Federal Reserve slashed interest rates, the value of bonds rose and real estate got a boost as assets flowed from stocks to housing. Simply put, not every asset crashed in unison.

The brewing financial crisis will be different: the twin sins of extreme levels of debt and extreme overvaluation of assets now characterize corporate bonds, many sovereign bonds, stocks and real estate. Pretty much the only traditional assets that aren’t at nosebleed levels are precious metals and bat guano. (Cryptocurrencies are as yet non-traditional assets, though this may change in the next financial crisis.)

Extreme levels of debt and overvaluation characterize the entire global economy, and are not limited to any one nation or sector. When this crisis gathers steam, there will be few avenues of escape. Adding regulations won’t stop it, adding liquidity won’t stop it, waving chicken entrails and dancing the humba-humba around the MMT/Keynesian campfire won’t stop it.

Attempting to force extremes to even more extended extremes won’t stop it.

THREE NOTES OF NOTE:

1. I just added a new benefit for all subscribers/patrons: a monthly Q&A where I respond to your questions/topics. You get other exclusive benefits with a $1, $5 or $10/month patronage via patreon.com.

2. Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change is on sale this month: $4.95 Kindle edition, $9.95 print edition, a 33% discount.

3. Did you know there are 3 new audiobooks available now?

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic

Money and Work Unchained

Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege 

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print, $13.08 audiobook): Read the first section for free in PDF format.

My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

If you found value in this content, please join me in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com. New benefit for subscribers/patrons: a monthly Q&A where I respond to your questions/topics.

Highlights from the Mueller Report

Fri, 2019-04-19 05:46

Eric Zuesse

Following are the passages that I consider to be the chief and most important allegations that are in the opening 11% (that’s up through page 49 of the of the 448-page document) of the “Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election”. That’s Robert Mueller’s March 2019 report, which had been commissioned by the U.S. Congress to find grounds to charge U.S. President Donald Trump with being an agent of the Russian Government and to replace him with Vice President Mike Pence for that reason.

https://viewfromll2.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/mueller-report.pdf

Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election

The Internet Research Agency (IRA) carried out the earliest Russian interference operations identified by the investigation — a social media campaign designed to provoke and amplify political and social discord in the United States. The IRA was based in St. Petersburg, Russia, and received funding from Russian oligarch Yevgeniy Prigozhin and companies he controlled. Prighozhin is widely reported to have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. …

The IRA later used social media accounts and interest groups to sow discord in the U.S. political system through what it termed “information warfare.” The campaign evolved from a generalized program designed in 2014 and 2015 to undermine the U.S. electoral system, to a targeted operation that by early 2016 favored candidate Trump and disparaged candidate Clinton.

The IRA’ s operation also included the purchase of political advertisements on social media in the names of U.S. persons and entities, as well as the staging of political rallies inside the United States. To organize those rallies, IRA employees posed as U.S. grassroots entities and persons and made contact with Trump supporters and Trump Campaign officials in the United States. The investigation did not identify evidence that any U.S. persons conspired or coordinated with the IRA. …

At the same time that the IRA operation began to focus on supporting candidate Trump in early 2016, the Russian government employed a second form of interference: cyber intrusions (hacking) and releases of hacked materials damaging to the Clinton Campaign. The Russian intelligence service known as the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Army (GRU) carried out these operations.

In March 2016, the GRU began hacking the email accounts of Clinton Campaign volunteers and employees, including campaign chairman John Podesta. In April 2016, the GRU hacked into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The GRU stole hundreds of thousands of documents from the compromised email accounts and networks. Around the time that the DNC announced in mid-June 2016 the Russian government’s role in hacking its network, the GRU began disseminating stolen materials through the fictitious online personas “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0.” The GRU later released additional materials through the organization WikiLeaks. …

While the investigation identified numerous links between individuals with ties to the Russian government and individuals associated with the Trump Campaign, the evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges. Among other things, the evidence was not sufficient to charge any Campaign official as an unregistered agent of the Russian government or other Russian principal. And our evidence about the June 9, 2016 meeting and WikiLeaks’s releases of hacked materials was not sufficient to charge a criminal campaign-finance violation. Further, the evidence was not sufficient to charge that any member of the Trump Campaign conspired with representatives of the Russian government to interfere in the 2016 election.

The Office investigated several other events that have been publicly reported to involve potential Russia-related contacts. For example, the investigation established that interactions between Russian Ambassador Kislyak and Trump Campaign officials both at the candidate’s April 2016 foreign policy speech in Washington, D.C., and during the week of the Republican National Convention were brief, public, and non-substantive. And the investigation did not establish that one Campaign official’s efforts to dilute a portion of the Republican Party platform on providing assistance to Ukraine were undertaken at the behest of candidate Trump or Russia. The investigation also did not establish that a meeting between Kislyak and Sessions in September 2016 at Sessions’s Senate office included any more than a passing mention of the presidential campaign.

Throughout 2016, IRA accounts published an increasing number of materials supporting the Trump Campaign and opposing the Clinton Campaign. For example, on May 31, 2016, the operational account “Matt Skiber” began to privately message dozens of pro-Trump Facebook groups asking them to help plan a “pro-Trump rally near Trump Tower.”55

To reach larger U.S. audiences, the IRA purchased advertisements from Facebook that promoted the IRA groups on the newsfeeds of U.S. audience members. According to Facebook, the IRA purchased over 3,500 advertisements, and the expenditures totaled approximately $100,000.56

During the U.S. presidential campaign, many IRA-purchased advertisements explicitly supported or opposed a presidential candidate or promoted U.S. rallies organized by the IRA (discussed below). As early as March 2016, the IRA purchased advertisements that overtly opposed the Clinton Campaign. For example, on March 18, 2016, the IRA purchased an advertisement depicting candidate Clinton and a caption that read in part, “If one day God lets this liar enter the White House as a president – that day would be a real national tragedy.”57

Similarly, on April 6, 2016, the IRA purchased advertisements for its account “Black Matters” calling for a “flashmob” of U.S. persons to “take a photo with #HillaryClintonForPrison2016 or #nohillary2016.”58 IRA-purchased advertisements featuring Clinton were, with very few exceptions, negative.59

IRA-purchased advertisements referencing candidate Trump largely supported his campaign. The first known IRA advertisement explicitly endorsing the Trump Campaign was purchased on April 19, 2016. The IRA bought an advertisement for its Instagram account “Tea Party News” asking U.S. persons to help them “make a patriotic team of young Trump supporters” by uploading photos with the hashtag “#KIDS4TRUMP.”60 In subsequent months, the IRA purchased dozens of advertisements supporting the Trump Campaign, predominantly through the Facebook groups “Being Patriotic,” “Stop All Invaders,” and “Secured Borders.” …

The IRA operated individualized Twitter accounts similar to the operation of its Facebook accounts, by continuously posting original content to the accounts while also communicating with U.S. Twitter users directly (through public tweeting or Twitter’s private messaging).

The IRA used many of these accounts to attempt to influence U.S. audiences on the election. Individualized accounts used to influence the U.S. presidential election included @TEN_ GOP ( described above); @jenn _ abrams ( claiming to be a Virginian Trump supporter with 70,000 followers); @Pamela_Moore13 (claiming to be a Texan Trump supporter with 70,000 followers); and @America:__Ist_ (an anti-immigration persona with 24,000 followers).67 In May 2016, the IRA created the Twitter account @march_for_trump, which promoted IRA-organized rallies in support of the Trump Campaign (described below).68 …

The IRA organized and promoted political rallies inside the United States while posing as U.S. grassroots activists. First, the IRA used one of its preexisting social media personas (Facebook groups and Twitter accounts, for example) to announce and promote the event. The IRA then sent a large number of direct messages to followers of its social media account asking them to attend the event. From those who responded with interest in attending, the IRA then sought a U.S. person to serve as the event’s coordinator. In most cases, the IRA account operator would tell the U.S. person that they personally could not attend the event due to some preexisting conflict or because they were somewhere else in the United States.82 The IRA then further promoted the event by contacting U.S. media about the event and directing them to speak with the coordinator.83

After the event, the IRA posted videos and photographs of the event to the IRA’s social media accounts. 84

The Office identified dozens of U.S. rallies organized by the IRA. The earliest evidence of a rally was a “confederate rally” in November 2015. 85 The IRA continued to organize rallies even after the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The attendance at rallies varied. Some rallies appear to have drawn few (if any) participants while others drew hundreds. …

From June 2016 until the end of the presidential campaign, almost all of the U.S. rallies organized by the IRA focused on the U.S. election, often promoting the Trump Campaign and opposing the Clinton Campaign. Pro-Trump rallies included three in New York; a series of pro-Trump rallies in Florida in August 2016; and a series of pro-Trump rallies in October 2016 in Pennsylvania. The Florida rallies drew the attention of the Trump Campaign, which posted about the Miami rally on candidate Trump’s Facebook account (as discussed below).86 …

Starting in June 2016, the IRA contacted different U.S. persons affiliated with the Trump Campaign in an effort to coordinate pro-Trump IRA-organized rallies inside the United States. In all cases, the IRA contacted the Campaign while claiming to be U.S. political activists working on behalf of a conservative grassroots organization. The IRA’s contacts included requests for signs and other materials to use at rallies, 107 as well as requests to promote the rallies and help coordinate Iogistics.108 While certain campaign volunteers agreed to provide the requested support (for example, agreeing to set aside a number of signs), the investigation has not identified evidence that any Trump Campaign official understood the requests were coming from foreign nationals.

III. RUSSIAN HACKING AND DUMPING OPERATIONS

Beginning in March 2016, units of the Russian Federation’s Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) hacked the computers and email accounts of organizations, employees, and volunteers supporting the Clinton Campaign, including the email account of campaign chairman John Podesta. Starting in April 2016, the GRU hacked into the computer networks of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC). The GRU targeted hundreds of email accounts used by Clinton Campaign employees, advisors, and volunteers. In total, the GRU stole hundreds of thousands of documents from the compromised email accounts and networks. 109 The GRU later released stolen Clinton Campaign and DNC documents through online personas, “DCLeaks” and “Guccifer 2.0,” and later through the organization WikiLeaks. The release of the documents was designed and timed to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election and undermine the Clinton Campaign. …

By no later than April 12, 2016, the GRU had gained access to the DCCC computer network using the credentials stolen from a DCCC employee who had been successfully spearphished the week before. Over the ensuing weeks, the GRU traversed the network, identifying different computers connected to the DCCC network. By stealing network access credentials along the way (including those of IT administrators with unrestricted access to the system), the GRU compromised approximately 29 different computers on the DCCC network. 119

Approximately six days after first hacking into the DCCC network, on April 18, 2016, GRU officers gained access to the DNC network via a virtual private network (VPN) connection120 between the DCCC and DNC networks.121 Between April 18, 2016 and June 8, 2016, Unit 26165 compromised more than 30 computers on the DNC network, including the DNC mail server and shared file server.122

b. Implantation of Ma/ware on DCCC and DNC Networks

Unit 26165 implanted on the DCCC and DNC networks two types of customized malware, 123 known as “X-Agent” and “X-Tunnel”; Mimikatz, a credential-harvesting tool; and rar.exe, a tool used in these intrusions to compile and compress materials for exfiltration. X-Agent was a multi-function hacking tool that allowed Unit 26165 to log keystrokes, take screenshots, and gather other data about the infected computers (e.g., file directories, operating systems).124 XTunnel was a hacking tool that created an encrypted connection between the victim DCCC/DNC computers and GRU-controlled computers outside the DCCC and DNC networks that was capable of large-scale data transfers. 125 GRU officers then used X-Tunnel to exfiltrate stolen data from the victim computers. …

c. Theft of Documents from DNC and DCCC Networks

Officers from Unit 26165 stole thousands of documents from the DCCC and DNCnetworks, including significant amounts of data pertaining to the 2016 U.S. federal elections.

Stolen documents included internal strategy documents, fundraising data, opposition research, and emails from the work inboxes of DNC employees.

The GRU began stealing DCCC data shortly after it gained access to the network. On April 14, 2016 (approximately three days after the initial intrusion) GRU officers downloaded rar.exe onto the DCCC’s document server. The following day, the GRU searched one compromised DCCC computer for files containing search terms that included “Hillary,” “DNC,” “Cruz,” and “Trump.”131 On April 25, 2016, the GRU collected and compressed PDF and Microsoft documents from folders on the DCCC’s shared file server that pertained to the 2016 election.132 The GRU appears to have compressed and exfiltrated over 70 gigabytes of data from this file server.133

The GRU also stole documents from the DNC network shortly after gaining access. On April 22, 2016, the GRU copied files from the DNC network to GRU-controlled computers. Stolen documents included the DNC’ s opposition research into candidate Trump.134 Between approximately May 25, 2016 and June 1, 2016, GRU officers accessed the DNC’s mail server from a GRU-controlled computer leased inside the United States.135 During these connections, Unit 26165 officers appear to have stolen thousands of emails and attachments, which were later released by WikiLeaks in July 2016.136

B. Dissemination of the Hacked Materials

The GRU began planning the releases at least as early as April 19, 2016, when Unit 26165 registered the domain dcleaks.com through a service that anonymized the registrant.137 Unit 26165 paid for the registration using a pool of bitcoin that it had mined. 138 The dcleaks.com landing page pointed to different tranches of stolen documents, arranged by victim or subject matter. Other dcleaks.com pages contained indexes of the stolen emails that were being released (bearing the sender, recipient, and date of the email). To control access and the timing of releases, pages were sometimes password-protected for a period of time and later made unrestricted to the public.

Starting in June 2016, the GRU posted stolen documents onto the website dcleaks.com, including documents stolen from a number of individuals associated with the Clinton Campaign.

These documents appeared to have originated from personal email accounts (in particular, Google and Microsoft accounts), rather than the DNC and DCCC computer networks. DCLeaks victims included an advisor to the Clinton Campaign, a former DNC employee and Clinton Campaign employee, and four other campaign volunteers. 139 The GRU released through dcleaks.com thousands of documents, including personal identifying and financial information, internal correspondence related to the Clinton Campaign and prior political jobs, and fundraising files and information.140 …

2. Guccifer 2.0

On June 14, 2016, the DNC and its cyber-response team announced the breach of the DNC network and suspected theft of DNC documents. In the statements, the cyber-response team alleged that Russian state-sponsored actors (which they referred to as “Fancy Bear”) were responsible for the breach. 145 Apparently in response to that announcement, on June 15, 2016, GRU officers using the persona Guccifer 2.0 created a WordPress blog. In the hours leading up to the launch of that WordPress blog, GRU officers logged into a Moscow-based server used and managed by Unit 74455 and searched for a number of specific words and phrases in English, including “some hundred sheets,” “illuminati,” and “worldwide known.” Approximately two hours after the last of those searches, Guccifer 2.0 published its first post, attributing the DNC server hack to a lone Romanian hacker and using several of the unique English words and phrases that the GRU officers had searched for that day. 146 …

3. Use of WikiLeaks

In order to expand its interference in the 20 I 6 U.S. presidential election, the GRU units transferred many of the documents they stole from the DNC and the chairman of the Clinton Campaign to WikiLeaks. GRU officers used both the DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 personas to

communicate with WikiLeaks through Twitter private messaging and through encrypted channels, including possibly through WikiLeaks’s private communication system. …

c. The GRU’s Transfer of Stolen Materials to WikiLeaks

Both the GRU and WikiLeaks sought to hide their communications, which has limited the Office’s ability to collect all of the communications between them. Thus, although it is clear that the stolen DNC and Podesta documents were transferred from the GRU to WikiLeaks, [REDACTED] …

An analysis of the metadata collected from the WikiLeaks site revealed that the stolen Podesta emails show a creation date of September 19, 2016.171 Based on information about Assange’s computer and its possible operating system, this date may be when the GRU staged the stolen Podesta emails for transfer to WikiLeaks (as the GRU had previously done in July 2016 for the DNC emails). 172 The WikiLeaks site also released PDFs and other documents taken from Podesta that were attachments to emails in his account; these documents had a creation date of October 2, 2016, which appears to be the date the attachments were separately staged by WikiLeaks on its site. 173

Beginning on September 20, 2016, WikiLeaks and DCLeaks resumed communications in a brief exchange. On September 22, 2016, a DCLeaks email account dcleaksproject@gmail.com sent an email to a WikiLeaks account with the subject “Submission” and the message “Hi from DCLeaks.” The email contained a PGP-encrypted with the filename “wiki_mail.txt.gpg.” 174 …

d. WikiLeaks Statements Dissembling About the Source of Stolen Materials

As reports attributing the DNC and DCCC hacks to the Russian government emerged, WikiLeaks and Assange made several public statements apparently designed to obscure the source of the materials that WikiLeaks was releasing. The file-transfer evidence described above and other information uncovered during the investigation discredit WikiLeaks’s claims about the source of material that it posted.

Beginning in the summer of 2016, Assange and WikiLeaks made a number of statements about Seth Rich, a former DNC staff member who was killed in July 2016. The statements about Rich implied falsely that he had been the source of the stolen DNC emails. On August 9, 2016, the @WikiLeaks Twitter account posted: “ANNOUNCE: WikiLeaks has decided to issue a US$20k reward for information leading to conviction for the murder ofDNC staffer Seth Rich.” 180

Likewise, on August 25, 2016, Assange was asked in an interview, “Why are you so interested in Seth Rich’s killer?” and responded, “We’re very interested in anything that might be a threat to alleged Wikileaks sources.” The interviewer responded to Assange’s statement by commenting, “I know you don’t want to reveal your source, but it certainly sounds like you’re suggesting a man who leaked information to WikiLeaks was then murdered.” Assange replied, “If there’s someone who’s potentially connected to our publication, and that person has been murdered in suspicious circumstances, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the two are connected. But it is a very serious matter … that type of allegation is very serious, as it’s taken very seriously by us.”181

After the U.S. intelligence community publicly announced its assessment that Russia was behind the hacking operation, Assange continued to deny that the Clinton materials released by WikiLeaks had come from Russian hacking. According to media reports, Assange told a U.S. congressman that the DNC hack was an “inside job,” and purported to have “physical proof” that Russians did not give materials to Assange. 182

Those are highlights from the opening 11% of the report, which is up through page 49 in the 448-page document. These are a prosecutor’s allegations; they are not necessarily true. Robert Mueller has a lengthy history of publicly alleging things that subsequently have come to be widely recognized to have been false. Furthermore, there are very serious reasons to doubt some of the most basic aspects of the Mueller report’s accounts of how information came to Wikileaks from Hillary Clinton’s and her campaign’s computers. Mueller even has been condemned by the FISA court for having violated the law and deceived that court. But these are his main allegations in Mueller’s ‘Russiagate’ report.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

The World’s Hypocritical Silence as China Imprisons its Ethnic Muslims En Masse

Thu, 2019-04-18 11:20

Imagine the reaction in the global Muslim community if a western nation imprisoned hundreds of thousands of Muslims solely for being Muslim and subjected them to torture, “re-education” that amounts to treating their religious faith as a pathological mental illness, forcefully separating parents and children, incarcerating the children in state-run orphanages, and on and on in a ruthlessly efficient Nazi-like systemic oppression.

The Muslim “street” would erupt in mass protests, burning flags and calling for the downfall of The Great Satan, and the Muslim nations would cancel energy and trade contracts and lodge diplomatic protests.

But the global Muslim community, and indeed, the entire global community, is strangely silent as China pursues a high-tech suppression of its ethnic Muslims. This silence might be the one thing Tehran, Moscow and Washington have in common: a complete and utter disregard for China’s Muslim-only gulags.

While America’s ruling elite greedily rubs its hands over the wealth that will flow from a “trade deal” with China, where is America’s vaunted concern with human rights? Nowhere to be found. Where are the canceled energy and trade contracts between China and Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the Persian Gulf States and other Muslim-majority nations?

The entire world’s ruling elites are silent because they’re terrified that even mild murmurings might limit the blood-soaked billions they want to reap from trade with China. That is the source of the world’s hypocritical silence about China’s Muslim-only gulags: the endless, insatiable, boundless greed of the ruling elites.

There’s a funny little thing called karma, or blowback if you prefer a secular label, and both China and its vast host of global ruling-elite enablers will eventually reap what they are sowing.

China employs vast armies of propagandists in the West whose favorite word is “debunked.” You can easily identify a Beijing-propaganda proxy by their use of “debunk” to counter any criticism of China’s Muslim-only gulags.

Meanwhile, the alarming reality has been covered in depth by what little remains of the global free press. If you look at only one article, start with this photo-essay: How China Turned a City into a Prison (New York Times)

Satellite Shows Sprawling ‘Re-education Camps’ For Chinese Muslims In Xinjiang Region(Zero Hedge)

China’s Uighur Camps Swell as Beijing Widens the Dragnet (WSJ.com)

Satellite images show expansion of ‘re-education’ centers in China’s Xinjiang region China has sharply expanded an internment program that initially targeted ethnic Uighur extremists but is now confining vast numbers of the largely Muslim minority group, including the secular, old and infirm, in camps across the country’s northwest.

Up to one million people, or about 7% of the Muslim population in China’s Xinjiang region, have now been incarcerated in an expanding network of ‘political re-education’ camps, according to U.S. officials and United Nations experts.

Tracking China’s Muslim Gulag (Reuters)

China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor (NYT.com)

Internet Sleuths Are Hunting for China’s Secret Internment Camps for Muslims(TheAtlantic.com)

China Is Treating Islam Like a Mental Illness The country is putting Muslims in internment camps—and causing real psychological damage in the process.(TheAtlantic.com)

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How U.S. Presidential Candidates Answer 20 Basic Questions

Wed, 2019-04-17 23:42
1. What would you like the U.S. discretionary budget to look like? With 60% now going to militarism, what percentage would you like that to be? Mike Gravel: Cut military spending by 50%. Howie Hawkins: Cut military spending by 50%. Bernie Sanders: Cut military spending by an unknown amount. Marianne Williamson: Convert to a peaceful economy over 10 to 20 years. Andrew Yang: Cut military spending by an unknown amount; move 10% to military-like infrastructure force. Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America. Tulsi Gabbard: One website provides no positions on anything, another doesn’t say. We can look to her voting record. She has voted against cutting the military budget. Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say. She has voted for enormous military budgets. Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything. Beto O’Rourke: Website doesn’t say. Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything. She has voted for enormous military budgets. Joe Biden: Isn’t running. Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything. She has voted for enormous military budgets. Donald Trump: Proposes to move yet more funding from almost everything else into military spending, boosting the latter to roughly 65% of federal discretionary spending across departments, not counting another 7% for Veterans Affairs. Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything. He has voted for enormous military budgets. Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education. Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website. John Delaney: Website provides an array of positions as if 96 percent of humanity and 65 percent of discretionary spending doesn’t exist: no foreign policy, except that he wants mandatory “service” with the military being one option. Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate, which position avoids mentioning the military either as a destroyer of climate or a source of funding that could be moved to climate. Wayne Messam: Website doesn’t say, but promotes hostility toward Russia and China. John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything. Kirsten Gillibrand: Website doesn’t say. Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee. 2. What program of economic conversion to peaceful enterprises would you support? Marianne Williamson hints at this topic.
Howie Hawkins hints at this topic.
Mike Gravel hints at this topic. Trump: none. Everybody else is silent. 3. Would you end, continue, or escalate U.S. war making in: Afghanistan? Iraq? Syria? Yemen? Pakistan? Libya? Somalia? Tulsi Gabbard: One website provides no positions on anything, but she has voted to end the war on Yemen and said she would end the wars on Syria and Afghanistan. Another website says she would end the wars on Yemen and Syria. But she has voted to keep the AUMF in place.
Bernie Sanders: He would end the war on Yemen, and he sort-of seems to suggest that he would end the wars on Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. He has voted to end the war on Yemen and against keeping the war on Afghanistan going. Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say. She has voted to end the war on Yemen and against keeping the war on Afghanistan going, and suggested she would end the wars on Afghanistan and Syria.
Mike Gravel: Website seems to effectively communicate the intention to end each of these wars, because he would close all bases, and pursue friendly relations with all countries. However, he would also “make war Constitutional,” as if the Congress can Constitutionally violate the UN Charter and the Kellogg-Briand Pact.
Howie Hawkins: Website seems to effectively communicate the intention to end each of these wars, but — like Gravel’s — doesn’t explicitly say so.
Marianne Williamson: Website seems to suggest she would end all wars, but does not say. Kirsten Gillibrand: Website doesn’t say, but she’s voted to end the war on Yemen and supported ending the war on Afghanistan. Andrew Yang: Website doesn’t say. Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America. Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything. Beto O’Rourke: Website doesn’t say. Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything. Joe Biden: Isn’t running. Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything. Donald Trump: He has escalated wars on Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen,  and vetoed a bill to end the war on Yemen, and continued wars on Libya, Somalia, and Pakistan. Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything. He’s voted to end war on Yemen. Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education. Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website. John Delaney: Website provides an array of positions as if 96 percent of humanity and 65 percent of discretionary spending doesn’t exist: no foreign policy, except that he wants mandatory “service” with the military being one option. Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate, which position avoids mentioning the military either as a destroyer of climate or a source of funding that could be moved to climate. Wayne Messam: Website doesn’t say, but promotes hostility toward Russia and China. John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything. Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee. 4. Would you end the exemption for militarism in Kyoto, Paris, and other climate agreements? – – – crickets – – – 5. Would you sign / ratify any of these treaties: Paris Climate Agreement? Convention on the Rights of the Child? International Convention on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights? International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights optional protocols? Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women? Convention Against Torure optional protocol? International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families? International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance? The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities? International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing, and Training of Mercenaries? Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court? Convention on the Non-Applicability of Statutory Limitations to War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity? Principles of International Cooperation in the Detection, Arrest, Extradition, and Punishment of Persons Guilty of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity? Convention on Cluster Munitions? Land Mines Convention? Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons? Proposed treaties banning the weaponization of space and banning cyber crimes? Mike Gravel: He lists a few of these he would support and suggests that there would be others. Howie Hawkins: Website only says: “a recommitment to the recently abandoned arms treaties and to vigorous new negotiations for further reductions toward complete nuclear disarmament.” Beto O’Rourke: Supports Paris agreement.
Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate. Has supported the Paris agreement. Bernie Sanders: Website doesn’t say. Has supported the Paris agreement. Tulsi Gabbard: Website provides no positions on anything, or doesn’t say. Has supported the Paris agreement. Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say. Has supported the Paris agreement.
Marianne Williamson: Website doesn’t say. Andrew Yang: Website doesn’t say. Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America. Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything. Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything. Joe Biden: Isn’t running. Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything. Donald Trump: No. Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything. Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education. Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website. John Delaney: Website provides an array of positions as if 96 percent of humanity and 65 percent of discretionary spending doesn’t exist: no foreign policy, except that he wants mandatory “service” with the military being one option. Wayne Messam: Website doesn’t say. John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything. Kirsten Gillibrand: Website doesn’t say. Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee. 6. Would you halt or continue expenditures on the production and so-called modernization of nuclear weapons? Mike Gravel: He would get rid of all nukes. Howie Hawkins: He would get rid of all nukes. Beto O’Rourke: Website mentions “nuclear disarmament.” Bernie Sanders: Website doesn’t say. Tulsi Gabbard: Website provides no positions on anything, or doesn’t say. But she has voted to fund new nukes. Elizabeth Warren: Website doesn’t say.
Marianne Williamson: Website doesn’t say. Andrew Yang: Website doesn’t say. Julian Castro: Website provides no positions on anything other than immigration and relations with Central America.
Jay Inslee: Website provides no positions on anything other than climate. Pete Buttigieg: Website provides no positions on anything. Kamala Harris: Website provides no positions on anything. Joe Biden: Isn’t running. Amy Klobuchar: Website provides no positions on anything. Donald Trump: Continue. Cory Booker: Website provides no positions on anything. Eric Swalwell: Website provides no positions on anything other than guns, healthcare, and education. Tim Ryan: Doesn’t seem to have a website. John Delaney: Website provides an array of positions as if 96 percent of humanity and 65 percent of discretionary spending doesn’t exist: no foreign policy, except that he wants mandatory “service” with the military being one option. Wayne Messam: Website doesn’t say. John Hickenloper: Website provides no positions on anything. Kirsten Gillibrand: Website doesn’t say. Howard Schultz: Website provides no positions on anything other than coffee. 7. Would you end weapons sales and the provision of military training to any governments? Which? Mike Gravel would end weapons sales and bring all troops home.
Howie Hawkins would convert weapons dealers into “nonprofit public enterprises.” Trump: none. Everybody else is silent. 8. Would you close any foreign bases? Which? Mike Gravel would close them all.
Howie Hawkins seems to suggest he would close at least some of them. Trump: no. Everybody else is silent. 9. Would you halt or continue the practice of murder by missiles from drones? Every website is silent. Candidates who have said in the past that they would use drones to murder include: Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, Joe Biden, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, and Donald Trump. 10. Do you recognize the ban on war, with exceptions, contained in the United Nations Charter? And the ban on threatening war? – – – crickets – – – 11. Do you recognize the ban on war, without exceptions, contained in the Kellogg-Briand Pact? – – – crickets – – – 12. Will you end discriminatory bans on immigrants? Mike Gravel: Yes. Howie Hawkins: Yes. Julian Castro: Yes. Kirsten Gillibrand: Yes. Bernie Sanders: Yes. Marianne Williamson: Yes.
Tulsi Gabbard: Yes. Donald Trump: No. Andrew Yang: Not clear. Beto O’Rourke: Not clear. John Delaney: Not clear. Wayne Messam: Not clear. Everybody else is silent. 13. Should actual, non-military, no-strings-attached foreign aid be eliminated, reduced, maintained, or increased? How much? – – – crickets – – – 14. 84% of South Koreans want the war ended immediately. Should the United States block that? Mike Gravel: No.
Tulsi Gabbard: No. Everybody else is silent. 15. Should NATO be maintained or abolished? – – – crickets – – –
The House voted on a bill to “support NATO” in January 2019, but Rep. Gabbard did not vote. 16. Should the CIA be maintained or abolished? – – – crickets – – – 17. Should the ROTC be maintained or abolished? – – – crickets – – – 18. Should domestic police forces be trained by, collaborate with, and be armed by militaries? – – – crickets – – – 19. Should the U.S. military pay sports leagues, secretly or openly, to celebrate militarism? – – – crickets – – – 20. How large should the U.S. military’s advertising budget be, and how much should the U.S. government spend promoting the concepts of nonviolent dispute resolution and the abolition of war? – – – crickets – – –

Americans: Are you represented in Congress by a stooge of Saudi Crown Prince Salman?

Wed, 2019-04-17 23:25

Eric Zuesse

You can find out here by clicking there to see how your Representative and your two Senators voted on the resolution to stop U.S. arming and aid to Prince Salman’s war to starve millions of Houthis to death. In neither house did the resolution pass with enough votes to be able to override Salman’s stooge Trump’s veto of it, and so our Government will continue to support this extermination.

The Sauds’ plan is to saturation-bomb the narrow access-route that supplies all food into the Houthis’ region of Yemen so as to starve the Houthis to death and thereby enable Prince Salman’s stooge to run Yemen.

This plan would have no chance to succeed if the U.S. withdrew its backing of and participation in it.

“If we suspend providing spare parts for their F-15s, their air force would be grounded in two weeks” — Robert Jordan, former US ambassador to Saudi Arabia

In other words: this slaughter-campaign isn’t only Prince Salman’s, it is Trump’s, too. In fact, you can see the entire Saudi-led coalition that’s backing this extermination-campaign, by clicking here.

So: if your vote means anything at all, and if you voted for a Representative and/or for one or both of the Senators who backs stooge Trump on this extermination-campaign, then you, too, are actually supporting this exterminationist government — today’s U.S. Government — and not only supporting Crown Prince Salman’s effort to take over Yemen.

Back when Barack Obama was the U.S. President, there was bipartisan support in both houses of Congress for Prince Salman’s extermination-campaign in Yemen and therefore no such possibility for stopping it; but, now, as the 2020 U.S. Presidential campaign is getting under way, Democrats especially have come out publicly against it, because the Republican President, Trump, is so strongly in favor of it, and so the Yemen-issue can help win the voters who want “Change.” Nonetheless, for example in the Senate, Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Todd Young, Jerry Moran, Rand Paul, Susan Collins, Steve Daines, and Mike Lee, joined all Democratic Senators and both Independent Senators, in supporting this resolution, which the current, Republican, President, Trump, then vetoed, thus continuing the U.S. Government’s decades-long service as a vassal-nation to the Saud family — even if not also to Israel’s Government, as well. (Israel, of course, being far more favored by America’s voters than is Saudi Arabia, presents far more danger for members of Congress to oppose than Saudi Arabia does; and, so, there are no resolutions in Congress that challenge Israel as the current resolutions have been challenging Saudi Arabia. And even the congressional challenges to the Sauds might be basically for political show, rather than serious policy-positions.)

The present news-report, including its links that enable any reader to know where each of his/her supposed representatives (or else Saud-stooges) stand on this extermination-campaign, is being submitted simultaneously to all U.S. national news-media, so that Americans (or at least ones who are receiving honest news that’s linked to all its sources so that you can decide for yourself what the facts are) can become easily informed regarding the true character of the given citizen’s federal representatives. To vote in ignorance is slavery.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Americans Have No Idea What “Freedom of the Press” Means

Wed, 2019-04-17 10:16

Many people believe that freedom of the press means that credentialed, professional journalists working for mainstream media outlets are protected when they criticize the government.

And they think that Julian Assange or some random blogger are not real reporters or publishers.

Indeed, a Google Search for “Assange is not a journalist/reporter/publisher” turns up 62,000 pages, many of them from the largest media corporations.

What Is Freedom of the Press

However, as we noted in 2014:

The First Amendment to the Constitution provides:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

The powers-that-be argue that freedom of the press only applies to large, well-heeled corporate media. For example, the Nation noted last year:

When the Department of Justice rolled out new policies intended to “strengthen protections for members of the news media” this summer, it wasn’t clear who belonged to the “news media.” Other DOJ documents suggest a narrow application to professional, traditional journalists. (The DOJ did not return a request to clarify the agency’s definition of “news media.”) The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide excludes bloggers from the news media, along with “persons and entities that simply make information available,” like Wikileaks. These policies are guidelines, not directives, but as the Freedom of the Press Foundation points out, they are “part of a broader legislative effort in Washington to simultaneously offer protection for the press while narrowing the scope of who is afforded it.”

Senator Dianne Feinstein argued for an amendment that would have restricted the shield to salaried journalists. “Should this privilege apply to anyone, to a seventeen year-old who drops out of high school, buys a website for five dollars and starts a blog? Or should it apply to journalists, to reporters, who have bona fide credentials?”

(This is a silly distinction, given that many of the world’s top experts have their own blogs. And as the non-partisan First Amendment Center notes: “Traditional reporters now blog daily, and prominent bloggers show up in traditional media.”)

But the Free Speech and Free Press Clauses of the First Amendment don’t distinguish between media businesses and nonprofessional speakers ….

And the courts have ruled that the freedom of the press applies to everyone who disseminates information … not just giant corporate media companies who can afford to pay “salaries”.

For example, the United States Supreme Court has consistently refused to accord greater First Amendment protection to the institutional media than to other speakers:

  • In Branzburg v. Hayes (1972), the U.S. Supreme Court described freedom of the press as “a fundamental personal right” that is not confined to newspapers and periodicals
  • In Lovell v. City of Griffin (1938), the Chief Justice of the Supreme court defined “press” as “every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion”
  • First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti (1978) rejected the “suggestion that communication by corporate members of the institutional press is entitled to greater constitutional protection than the same communication by” non-institutional-press businesses
  • In Bartnicki v. Vopper (2001), the court could “draw no distinction between the media respondents and” a non-institutional respondent

Earlier this year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a blogger is entitled to the same free speech protections as a traditional journalist and cannot be liable for defamation unless the blogger acted negligently. The Court held:

The protections of the First Amendment do not turn on whether the defendant was a trained journalist.

And the First Circuit agrees. As Gigaom reported in 2011:

One recent appeals court decision specifically referred to the fact that the ability to take photos, video and audio recordings with mobile devices has effectively made everyone a journalist — in practice, if not in name — and therefore deserving of protection.

In the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, released just a few weeks ago, the judges pointed out that the First Amendment’s protection for freedom of the press “encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information,” and that citizens have the right to investigate government affairs and share what they learn with others. Judge Kermit Lipez also specifically noted that these protections don’t just apply to professional journalists. He said in his decision:

[C]hanges in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders [and] and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status.

The First Amendment Center correctly notes:

The purpose of the free press clause of the First Amendment was to keep an eye on people in power and maintain a check on corruption.

Supreme Court justices Black and Douglas explained in their concurring opinion in New York Times Co. v. United States (1971):

In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.

Indeed, the Founding Fathers made this clear even before the Revolutionary war started. Specifically, the Continental Congress – the legislative body of the Founding Fathers – wrote in 1774:

The last right we shall mention regards the freedom of the press …. whereby oppressive officers are shamed or intimidated into more honourable and just modes of conducting affairs.

These are the invaluable rights that form a considerable part of our mild system of government; that, sending its equitable energy through all ranks and classes of men, defends the poor from the rich, the weak from the powerful, the industrious from the rapacious, the peaceable from the violent, the tenants from the lords, and all from their superiors.

These are the rights without which a people cannot be free and happy, and under the protecting and encouraging influence of which these colonies have hitherto so amazingly flourished and increased. These are the rights a profligate Ministry are now striving by force of arms to ravish from us, and which we are with one mind resolved never to resign but with our lives.

In other words, the Founding Fathers understood that people who stand up to “oppressive” government officials are to be zealously protected … because “shaming” corrupt, powerful people “into more honourable and just modes of conducting affairs” is the only way to preserve liberty, justice and prosperity, and to remain “free and happy”.

The Founding Fathers Intended EVERYONE to Have Freedom of the Press

Let’s dig a little deeper into the background behind the First Amendment’s protection of the press …

Law School Professor and Director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford, Michael W. McConnell, notes:

Blackstone described the liberty of the press as the “undoubted right” of “[e]very freeman” to “lay what sentiments he pleases before the public.”  The Jeffersonians agreed. The author of a book-length commentary on the Constitution, Jeffersonian legal scholar St. George Tucker, wrote that “the freedom of the press” means that “[e]very individual, certainly, has a right to speak, or publish, his sentiments on the measures of government.” The author of the first major constitutional treatise, a Federalist, Chancellor James Kent, took the same position: “every citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments.”  Joseph Story agreed, describing the freedom of the press in these terms: “every man shall have a right to speak, write, and print his opinions upon any subject whatsoever, without any prior restraint.”  So did state constitutions and state supreme courts. Anyone who went to a printer and paid him to print a pamphlet or book, or placed an advertisement in a publication, was entitled to exercise the freedom. There were no apparent dissenters from this proposition in the decades before or after the First Amendment.

This near-universal assertion of the broad right of “every citizen” to publish his sentiments is unsurprising, since at the time of the founding there were no professional journalists in the modern sense of the word. Much of the editorial content of newspapers was written by lawyers, farmers, schoolteachers, ministers, statesmen, and other citizens who were not journalists. The Federalist—written by three non-journalists and published in New York newspapers as occasional essays—is the most famous example, but there were hundreds of others. When the Founders spoke of the importance of “the press,” they were not talking about professional news media, but about the printing press, meaning the ability of people to disseminate ideas easily and inexpensively to a broad public. The licensing of the press, which was the great evil against which the Amendment was directed, applied to books and pamphlets as much as to newspapers. Indeed, pamphlets were among the most important publications for the influencing of public opinion. Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, which he self-published,is a famous example.  1753 essay entitled Of the Use, Abuse, and Liberty of the Press, by the future Constitutional Convention delegate William Livingston,stated that one of the great benefits of the printing press was that “the Press” could be used by “Writers of every Character and Genius,” including “[t]he Patriot,” “[t]he Divine,” “the Philosopher, the Moralist, the Lawyer, and men of every other Profession and Character, whose Sentiments may be diffused with the greatest Ease and Dispatch.”

In other words,”the press” as understood by the Founding Fathers was analogous to “blogs” or “websites” in our modern electronic era.

On this theme, Professor McConnell says:

There is no reason to believe that companies that make money on their publications or writers who earn their living from writing have a monopoly on the provision of the information and commentary on public affairs the Press Clause protects. At the time of adoption of the First Amendment, it was common for citizens of a variety of professions to use the press to express their views to the public. That is even truer today, when the Internet provides a ready platform for citizen journalists and commentators to contribute to public discourse. Some media critics believe that the proliferation of voices has diminished the common ground we enjoyed in the days of three homogeneous networks, but it would be odd to interpret the Press Clause, whose core meaning is that the government may not select the authors who inform the public, as a vehicle for reducing this diversity and imposing professional standards as a condition of publishing to the public. Many organizations whose primary purpose is something other than journalism—including the American Bar Association, the National Geographic Society, the Christian Science Church, the Smithsonian, Boy Scouts of America, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State—also publish popular newspapers or magazines, which surely are entitled to Press Clause protection. Indeed, in a prominent sequel to New York Times v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court treated the publisher for an ideological group, the John Birch Society, as a “media” defendant.

In 2012, University of Pennsylvania Law Review published an in-depth article by UCLA Law School Professor Eugene Volokh documenting the history of American understanding of “freedom of the press” (Professor Volokh generously gave us permission to quote extensively):

Early formulations of the freedom of the press spoke of it as a right of every “freeman,” “citizen,” or “individual.” These formulations often set forth narrow substantive views of the “freedom of the press.” But, whatever the scope of the right, it belonged to everyone (or at least all free citizens).

Blackstone, for instance, wrote in 1769 that “[e]very freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public: to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press.” Jean-Louis de Lolme, an author widely cited by 1780s American writers, likewise wrote in his chapter on “Liberty of the Press” that “[e]very subject in England has not only a right to present petitions, to the King, or the Houses of Parliament; but he has a right also to lay his complaints and observations before the Public, by the means of an open press.” The right to present petitions, of course, was not limited to the press as an industry, but really did belong to “[e]very subject.” De Lolme’s explanation suggests that the right to speak to the public via “an open press” likewise extended to all subjects, whether or not they used the printing press for a living.

***

State supreme courts in 1788 and 1791 similarly described the liberty of the press as “permitting every man to publish his opinions,”  and as meaning that “the citizen has a right to publish his sentiments upon all political, as well as moral and literary subjects.” Justice Iredell described the liberty of the press in 1799 as meaning that “[e]very freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public.”  St. George Tucker, in 1803, defined the “freedom of the press” as meaning that “[e]very individual, certainly, has a right to speak, or publish, his sentiments on the measures of government.”

Several early state constitutions echoed this as well, providing that “[e]very citizen may freely speak, write and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty.”  Likewise, Justice Story, who wrote in 1833 but who had learned the law in the decade following the enactment of the Bill of Rights, described the First Amendment as providing that “every man shall have a right to speak, write, and print his opinions upon any subject whatsoever, without any prior restraint, so always, that he does not injure any other person . . . or attempt to subvert the government.” These references to a right of “every freeman,” “every man,” “every citizen,” and “every individual” appear to refer to every person’s right to use printing technology. They are much less consistent with the notion that the right gave special protection to the few men who were members of a particular industry.

***

Early cases, such as the 1803 Runkle v. Meyer decision, likewise treat the “liberty of the press” as equivalent to the provision that “every citizen may freely speak, write and print on any subject.”27 And St. George Tucker, Chancellor Kent, and Justice Joseph Story all treated the First Amendment phrase “freedom of the speech, and of the press” as interchangeable with the state constitutional provisions that “every citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments.”

***

The view that “freedom of the press” covers “every citizen,” even people who aren’t members of the publishing industry, also makes sense given how many important authors of the time were not members of that industry.

Newspapers of the era were small enterprises, with few or no employees. Woodward and Bernstein were many decades in the future; Framing-era newspapers didn’t do sustained investigative journalism.

And while those newspapers doubtless contributed facts and opinions to public debate, some of the most important such contributions in newspapers came from people who were not publishers, printers, editors, or their employees—Madison, Hamilton, and Jay’s The Federalist essays are a classic example. “[N]ot a few of the country editors . . . depended for what literary work their vocation demanded upon the assistance of friends who liked being ‘contributors to the press’ without fee.”

It seems unlikely that the Framers would have secured a special right limited to this small industry, an industry that included only part of the major contributors to public debate. This is especially so given that some of the most powerful and wealthy contributors, such as the politicians and planters who wrote so much of the important published material, weren’t part of the industry.

***

The grammatical structure of the First Amendment likewise suggests that the freedom was the freedom “of every freeman” or “every citizen” to use the press-as-technology, and not a freedom belonging to the press-as-industry.

As Justice Scalia pointed out in Citizens United, the shared words “freedom of” in the phrase the “freedom of speech, or of the press” are most reasonably understood as playing the same role for both “speech” and “press.” The “freedom of speech” is freedom to engage in an activity, much like “freedom of movement” or “freedom of religion.” In particular, it is the freedom to use the faculty of speech. This suggests that “freedom of the press” is likewise freedom to engage in an activity by using the faculty of the printing press.

This is supported by sources that discuss the “freedom in the use of the press.” Thus, James Madison, in his 1800 Report on the Virginia Resolutions, wrote that American law provided “a different degree of freedom in the use of the press” than English law did. The Massachusetts response to the Virginia resolutions replied that the “freedom of the press” “is a security for the rational use, and not the abuse of the press.” St. George Tucker’s influential 1803 work, in discussing the freedom of the press, spoke of “[w]hoever makes use of the press as the vehicle of his sentiments on any subjects.” The freedom of the press was “freedom in the use of the press,” much as freedom of speech was freedom in the use of speech.

Likewise, Madison’s Report also quoted a phrase from Virginia’s ratifying convention: “We, the Delegates of the people of Virginia . . . declare and make known . . . that among other essential rights, the liberty of conscience and of the press cannot be cancelled, abridged, restrained or modified by any authority of the United States.” Again, the phrase “the liberty of” is seen as applying equally to “conscience” and “the press.” Here too this suggests that, just as the liberty of conscience was seen during that era as each person’s freedom to worship or to think and speak as he wished on religious matters, so the liberty of the press meant each person’s freedom to publish.

***

The freedom of the press-as-technology, of course, was not seen as redundant of the freedom of speech. St. George Tucker, for instance, discussed the freedom of speech as focusing on the spoken word and the freedom of the press as focusing on the printed….

Likewise, George Hay, who later became a U.S. Attorney and a federal judge, wrote in 1799 that “freedom of speech means, in the construction of the Constitution, the privilege of speaking any thing without control” and “the words freedom of the press, which form a part of the same sentence, mean the privilege of printing any thing without control.” Massachusetts Attorney General James Sullivan (1801) similarly treated “the freedom of speech” as referring to “utter[ing], in words spoken,” and “the freedom of the press” as referring to “print[ing] and publish[ing].”

And these sources captured an understanding that was broadly expressed during the surrounding decades. Bishop Thomas Hayter, writing in 1754, described the “Liberty of the Press” as applying the traditionally recognized “Use and Liberty of Speech” to “Printing,” an activity that Hayter described as “only a more extensive and improved Kind of Speech.” Hayter’s work was known and quoted in Revolutionary-era America.

Similarly, William Bollan (1766) described “printing” as “a species of writing invented for the more expeditious multiplication of copies,” and asserted that “freedom or restraint of speech and writing upon public affairs have generally been concomitant”; because of this, Bollan argued, “restraints of writing” were likely to erode the “liberty of speech” and not only of writing, and “those who desire to preserve the [liberty of speech] ought by all means to take due care of the [freedom of writing].” And Bollan used “liberty of the press” and “the freedom of writing” (in a context suggesting printing) interchangeably.

Later, Francis Holt (1812) defined the liberty of the press as “the personal liberty of the writer to express his thoughts in the more [im]proved way invented by human ingenuity in the form of the press.” William Rawle (1825) likewise characterized “[t]he press” as “a vehicle of the freedom of speech,” adding that “[t]he art of printing illuminates the world, by a rapid dissemination of what would otherwise be slowly communicated and partially understood.”

Without the freedom of the press, the freedom of speech might not have been viewed as covering printing, given that printing posed dangers that ordinary “speech” did not. Indeed, in the centuries before the Framing, governments tried to specifically constrain the use of the press-as-technology because they found it to be especially dangerous. The free press guarantees made clear that this potentially dangerous technology was protected alongside direct in-person communications.

Professor Volokh goes onto document how freedom of the press has continuously been interpreted by the courts up to today as applying to everyone, not just professional, credentialed journalists.

Postscript: So where did this idea of “professional journalists” come from?   It may have been created by the Father of modern propaganda, Edward Bernays.

Award-winning veteran journalist John Pilger explains:

Edward Bernays, the so-called father of public relations, wrote about an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. He was referring to journalism, the media. That was almost 80 years ago, not long after corporate journalism was invented.

It is a history few journalist talk about or know about, and it began with the arrival of corporate advertising. As the new corporations began taking over the press, something called “professional journalism” was invented. To attract big advertisers, the new corporate press had to appear respectable, pillars of the establishment-objective, impartial, balanced. The first schools of journalism were set up, and a mythology of liberal neutrality was spun around the professional journalist. The right to freedom of expression was associated with the new media and with the great corporations, and the whole thing was, as [University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign Communications Professor] Robert McChesney put it so well, “entirely bogus”.

For what the public did not know was that in order to be professional, journalists had to ensure that news and opinion were dominated by official sources, and that has not changed. Go through the New York Times on any day, and check the sources of the main political stories-domestic and foreign-you’ll find they’re dominated by government and other established interests. That is the essence of professional journalism. I am not suggesting that independent journalism was or is excluded, but it is more likely to be an honorable exception. Think of the role Judith Miller played in the New York Times in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Yes, her work became a scandal, but only after it played a powerful role in promoting an invasion based on lies. Yet, Miller’s parroting of official sources and vested interests was not all that different from the work of many famous Times reporters, such as the celebrated W.H. Lawrence, who helped cover up the true effects of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in August, 1945. “No Radioactivity in Hiroshima Ruin,” was the headline on his report, and it was false.

Consider how the power of this invisible government has grown. In 1983 the principle global media was owned by 50 corporations, most of them American. In 2002 this had fallen to just 9 corporations. Today it is probably about 5. Rupert Murdoch has predicted that there will be just three global media giants, and his company will be one of them. This concentration of power is not exclusive of course to the United States. The BBC has announced it is expanding its broadcasts to the United States, because it believes Americans want principled, objective, neutral journalism for which the BBC is famous. They have launched BBC America. You may have seen the advertising.

The BBC began in 1922, just before the corporate press began in America. Its founder was Lord John Reith, who believed that impartiality and objectivity were the essence of professionalism. In the same year the British establishment was under siege. The unions had called a general strike and the Tories were terrified that a revolution was on the way. The new BBC came to their rescue. In high secrecy, Lord Reith wrote anti-union speeches for the Tory Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin and broadcast them to the nation, while refusing to allow the labor leaders to put their side until the strike was over.

So, a pattern was set. Impartiality was a principle certainly: a principle to be suspended whenever the establishment was under threat. And that principle has been upheld ever since.

By 3-to-1, Americans Want Assange Prosecuted

Wed, 2019-04-17 03:31

Eric Zuesse

A YouGov poll of 2,455 Americans taken on April 11th found that by a margin of 53% to 17%, or by slightly over 3 to 1, Americans want Julian Assange to be prosecuted.

The question was: “Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London. Do you think he should or should not be extradited to the US?”

This was a remarkably bipartisan hostility toward Assange. As the YouGov news-report on that finding indicated:

“That majority increases among both Republicans (59% supporting extradition) and Democrats (62% supporting extradition), but decreases to a plurality (46%) among Independents. Independents were more likely to respond with uncertainty (32% saying they don’t know) than Republicans and Democrats, and a little more than one in five Independents (22%) are opposed to extradition.”

During 18-20 November 2018, YouGov had polled Americans on “Do you have a favorable or an unfavorable opinion” on Assange, and separately the same on Wikileaks. On each, Americans were predominantly unfavorable toward Assange by 38% to 20%, and toward Wikileaks by 44% to 29%. Another question in that poll was “Do you support or oppose the prosecution of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks?” “Support” was 29%. “Oppose” was 19%.

In March 2011, Reuters’s Ipsos polling firm asked 18,829 people in 23 countries, “As you may know, the mission of the Wikileaks internet site is to publish copies of confidential government or corporate files and information to the public. Do you support or oppose this type of site that would post such materials?” Globally, there was 74% “Support” and 26% “Oppose.” The lowest support was in U.S.: 29% support versus 61% opposition. (The second-lowest support of Wikileaks was in UK or “Great Britain,” where the opposition to Wikileaks was 38% instead of America’s 61%.) That poll also asked “Would you consider the publishers of the materials” from such a site to be “public service” or “mischief makers” or “criminals” or “heroes” or “other”; and the predominant one of those choices worldwide was “public service,” which was selected by the same percentage of people as the total percentage who had chosen either “mischief makers” or else “criminals” (the second and third preferred options) and it was eight times as many as those who had chosen “heroes.” (NOTE: These latter opinions pertained to the news-media that published information from Wikileaks — not to Wikileaks itself.) However, yet again, in this poll, Americans stood alone for the extremity of their hostility towards a national press that’s not being controlled by the Government (which is what Wikileaks is all about): only one third as large a percentage of Americans as the global percentage chose “public service,” whereas the percentage of Americans who chose “criminals” (42%) was more than three times the global percentage (13%) who chose that. The second-highest to that degree of extreme hostility against a press that’s authentically independent of the government was likewise “Great Britain”: 20%. Canada was the third-highest, at 19%. In other words: the #1 most-hostile nation against democracy was 42% in America, and the next-most-hostile to democracy was 20% in “Great Britain” — less than half as high a percentage of hostility against democracy, as compared to the U.S. percentage; and Canada was only slightly less hostile toward democracy than was the UK.

That same poll also asked: “Wikileaks recently posted thousands of confidential US government diplomatic notes. … Julian Assange, who is responsible for leaking the documents should be viewed as a” — and  49% of Americans said “criminal,” whereas only 17% globally did. (Great Britain was, yet again, on this, the second-highest hostility against democracy, at 26%.) Globally, 29% of all respondents said that Assange had provided a “public service,” but only 11% of Americans said that.

By overwhelming margins, Americans thought that their Government should have an unqualified right to hide from the public, basically, anything it wants to hide. The U.S. Government actually does possess unlimited authority to categorize whatever it wants, as being “Classified.” Overwhelming majorities of the U.S. public approve of this root-principle of dictatorship. Assange is being condemned, fundamentally, because he violates that intrinsic principle (government-secrecy, regardless of how arbitrarily it is imposed), of dictatorship, anywhere.

Clearly, then, the American people were far more favorable toward dictatorship than the public was, in any of the 22 other nations that were sampled.

(NOTE: For the purposes of this article, effective control by the government over the nation’s press is defined as dictatorship, and effective freedom of the press to report any truth — regardless of what the government wants — is defined as democracy. So: the U.S. belongs in the category of a 100% dictatorship, since the Government can classify anything it wishes to.)

An interesting sidelight to these findings, of an extremely pro-dictatorship U.S. public — and with Great Britain being right behind (though not nearly as pro-dictatorship as Americans are) — is that, in 2002 and 2003, the national press in each of those two countries was so strongly controlled by the government as to deceive (via their stenographic ‘news’-media) their respective public into invading Iraq, on the basis of that stenographic reporting by the nation’s press of the government’s lies against Iraq. This is the result of both countries being dictatorships. This is true irrespective of whether Iraq also was.

Further confirmations of the extreme degree of dictatorship in the United States are that it’s the nation which has the world’s highest percentage of its people in prison, and that in the periodic polling by the Gallup organization, the one “institution” that always scores at the very top as being the most highly respected of all institutions in America is “the military.” That is the finding which would reasonably be expected in a total dictatorship.

So: if Assange gets extradited by Great Britain to the United States for prosecution, he will face here not only the most hostile government but the most hostile public. Presumably, this would please the leaderships (even if not the publics) in all U.S.-allied nations, including especially NATO — America’s anti-Russia military alliance, which after 1991 absorbed the entirety of the no-longer-existing Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact mirror organization which had countered America’s NATO alliance. NATO itself is strongly supported not only by the governments but by the people within the respective member-nations, and polling in June 2014 found that “A little more than half of EU respondents (56%) said it was desirable that the United States exert strong leadership in world affairs.” So, the publics in those nations (at least back in 2014) wanted their own government to continue to be led by the U.S. Government. That was more than a decade after the U.S. Government (and Great Britain) had invaded and destroyed Iraq, on the basis of lies. So: perhaps the public, not only in America but in other countries, learns nothing from experience, and they are perennially suckers of their respective national leaderships. But, in any case, the American public are international standouts for supporting dictatorship — not merely accepting it, but actually endorsing it. Obviously, if Assange is not freed from Great Britain and especially from the U.S., his prospects are exceptionally dismal. His only actual ‘crime’ is having stood up internationally for democracy. If that’s not a “hero,” who is? But perhaps, now, democracy has become a hopeless cause. Perhaps, in the final analysis, Assange’s fate will turn out to have been the fate of democracy, too — the canary in this coal mine.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Notre Dame and the Identity of France

Wed, 2019-04-17 01:17

As rationalists, we’re supposed to take the dramatic and profoundly tragic fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris as random chance or bad luck. But I cannot be the only one who feels a symbolic tie between the near-destruction of a French religious and cultural icon and the embattled identity of France.

As it happens, I am reading Fernand Braudel’s massive two-volume history The Identity of France: Volume One: History and Environment and Volume Two: People and Production.

Longtime readers know I have often recommended Braudel’s three-volume history, Civilization and Capitalism, 15th-18th Century, as essential to the understanding of the rise of Capitalism in Europe:

The Structures of Everyday Life (Volume 1)

The Wheels of Commerce (Volume 2)

The Perspective of the World (Volume 3)

The Chinese famously view natural disasters and similar events as portents of political change, as disasters suggest the Emperor/ruling elite has lost the Mandate of Heaven. It is difficult not to see the disastrous fire in Notre Dame as just such a portent.

For the identity of France is under assault on a number of fronts. The left-leaning status quo has set up a false duality: one either worships multiculturalism and rejects a national identity as the sworn enemy of multiculturalism, or one is a rightist racist. Thus anyone who even refers to a national identity of France is quickly vilified and marginalized.

This is of course a false choice: one can value multiculturalism as an essential part of a national identity without sacrificing the entire notion of a national identity.

As Braudel notes at the end of Volume Two, France has long been ruled by tiny elites. A mere 242 financiers held contracts to collect taxes for the monarchy in the early 1700s; Braudel notes that “La Haute Banque in Paris, during the Restoration and later, consisted of a mere 25 families.”

In the highly centralized political power structure of today’s France, the leadership–from Macron down– are all graduates of a few select universities. Like Macron, the leadership was selected early and quickly advanced over lesser elites.

Globalized, hyper-financialized elitist Capitalism, so dependent on cheap immigrant labor for its servants, has left “deep France” behind, stripped of economic and political power, and relegated to dependency on the welfare state in rural regions (only the favored few and those with state-subsidized housing can afford to live in Paris).

These are not matters solely of politics and finance; they are manifestations of the elite war on the identity of France, to transform it into a bland, globalized hierarchy in which capital and power benefit the few, a system enforced by state propaganda and public virtue-signaling.

To quote Slavoj Žižek:

“The yellow vests movement fits the specific French Left tradition of large public protests targeting the political, more than the business or financial, elites. However, in contrast to the 68’ protests, the yellow vests are much more a movement of France profonde (‘deep France’), its revolt against big metropolitan areas, which means that its Leftist orientation is much more blurred.”

Here is Andrew Joyce (On Yellow Vests and Monsters):

“Amidst the sea of evasions, disavowals, and contradictions, it remains the case that the White working class has been abandoned by both the Old Right and the Left. In some cases, the White working class is the reason for the same evasions, disavowals, and contradictions: they are an uncomfortable, and now more visible, reminder of broken promises and unfulfilled obligations.

Guilluy adds that ‘the economic divide between peripheral France and the metropolises illustrates the separation of an elite and its popular hinterland. Western elites have gradually forgotten a people they no longer see. The impact of the gilets jaunes, and their support in public opinion (eight out of 10 French people approve of their actions), has amazed politicians, trade unions and academics, as if they have discovered a new tribe in the Amazon.’

I disagree that visibility, presented in passive terms, is the key issue here. In fact, I believe a better analogy would be that of an Amazonian tribe that had been systematically targeted for extinction, and was assumed to have been incapable of mustering any kind of resurgence.

We shouldn’t forget that it became common practice on the Left to pretend the White working class didn’t exist, and that it was also viewed as explicitly oppositional on the Left and among cosmopolitan elites to offer the White working class, as an ethno-economic group, any kind of material or ideological support.”

Lastly, here is Christophe Guilluy, author of Twilight of the Elites: Prosperity, the Periphery, and the Future of France:

Employment and wealth have become more and more concentrated in the big cities. The deindustrialised regions, rural areas, small and medium-size towns are less and less dynamic. But it is in these places – in peripheral France (one could also talk of peripheral America or peripheral Britain) – that many working-class people live. Thus, for the first time, “workers” no longer live in areas where employment is created, giving rise to a social and cultural shock. … The globalised metropolises are the new citadels of the 21st century – rich and unequal, where even the former lower-middle class no longer has a place. Instead, large global cities work on a dual dynamic: gentrification and immigration. This is the paradox: the open society results in a world increasingly closed to the majority of working people.”

The corporate media, a key defender of the self-serving elite, will reject any symbolism in the near-destruction of Notre Dame. But deep down, many sense what cannot be spoken openly: the elites in France have lost the Mandate of Heaven.

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Testimony for the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service

Tue, 2019-04-16 23:51

Submitted by David Swanson, April 16, 2019

I was more surprised that your commission contacted me with a kind-of, sort-of invitation to speak than that you ultimately decided not to include me. I thank you for inviting me to submit testimony.

You had read my article, “Draft Registration Will Be Either Ended or Imposed on Women.” I’ve included it below.

I understand that you had already booked these four speakers and then managed to add a fifth: Edward Hasbrouck, Diane Randall, Jude Eden, Mark Coppenger.

I agree with Hasbrouck (and presumably Diane Randall, and the then-Secretary of the Army a couple of years ago, and these 12,000 petition signers) that Selective Service should be ended. I also agree with Hasbrouck that a military draft / compulsory military service would be a failure in the sense that it would be contentious and unfair and widely resisted and evaded and denounced. I’m less confident than he may be that those who want it would regard this as a failure. Any draft would get more people into the military than no draft. It is not uncommon for people in power to believe that unfair, contentious, polarizing policies benefit them. Are Trump’s immigration policies a failure in his eyes because they are contentious, polarizing, cruel, criminal, impeachable, and shameful? Clearly not. But the proposals of a long thorough study can aspire to greater wisdom than the buffoonery of a fascistic unclothed emperor.

Jude Eden apparently believes that drafting weak, incompetent women into the U.S. military would reduce that military’s ability to destroy places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, or even Venezuela. And what a loss to the world that would be! With women lowering the military’s standards, it would be unable to generate as much hatred for the United States. It would be incapable of destabilizing as much of the world, too wimpy to produce the same level of environmental and climate destruction, and just too soft to burn through over $1 trillion a year spreading hatred, eroding liberties, and militarizing society. Think of it: we’d have equal rights but lack the capacity to kill as many human beings. That would, apparently, be a very sad case of taking one step forward and two back. If I agreed with Jude Eden that such would be the result of adding women to Selective Service, I’d have to seriously consider supporting that policy as preferable to the status quo. But the military has been and will continue rolling right along with signing up as many men and women as it can, and training them to murder to the extent that it is able. Many members of the military may want to keep women out, just as they may want to be welcomed as liberators in Iran or Venezuela, but there is no rational basis for such beliefs.

Mark Coppenger told a Christian media outlet that it would be “absurd, even despicable, to force our nation’s mothers, daughters and sisters [to] suit up.” He was not asked for any sort of explanation of the absurdity or despicableness, but it clearly was not because murdering large numbers of people with counterproductive and catastrophic results is a horrible thing to do. Rather, Coppenger would clearly prefer that fathers, sons, and brothers be forced to do it. The generous view of his attitude toward women is that he cares enough about them not to put them through hell. I agree with that view. I just want it expanded to men. In fact, failure to care about boys helps to produce men who are willing to engage in senseless violence, and I would prefer to break that vicious cycle by treasuring all people.

One reason I was surprised to hear from a national commission on anything is that I have argued for the reduction, not the expansion, of nationality, of national-level activities. Service, real or sadistic, voluntary or compelled, can of course be provided at the local or regional or continental or global level. The key reason for making it national is that nations have militaries. I told you that, given the right circumstances, I might support compulsory service. It would have to be non-military, and not tied to a military agenda. I’d support mandatory voting in a nation or other jurisdiction with fair and open elections meeting international standards for freedom from corruption and for verifiable results, or even in the United States. I think it’s telling what a struggle it is in the United States to create automatic voter registration, as compared to the priority given to draft registration. Isn’t voting the very first “service” to begin with? I support compulsory jury duty. I support taxation, though not how it is now done. I think a government that can’t tax the privileged should drop all pretense that it will draft them. But a legitimate service that actually served people, such as work to mitigate climate collapse, if fairly organized by a legitimate body, I might support. I’m not opposing service simply to oppose it. I’m opposing the crime of violating the United Nations Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact, the crime of war. Here’s a video of the sort of things I have to say about why.

Draft Registration Will Be Either Ended or Imposed on Women

A choice must now be made. It is officially unconstitutional to discriminate against 18-year-old women by not forcing them to sign up to be forced against their will to kill and die for Venezuela’s oil or some other noble cause.

Yes, the fine U.S. judiciary has declared for-men-only Selective Service registration to be verboten.

That’s not to say there isn’t debate on the matter. One side holds that women should be treasured as the delicate witless pieces of property they are because the Bible says so, and therefore they must be kept out of war entirely. The other side says that good modern liberal progressive feminists should demand the right of every woman to be forced, on pain of prison or even death, to help murder a million Iraqis for the cause of creating ISIS or some similar high purpose. Enlightened women demand not only equal pay, but equal moral injury, PTSD, brain injury, suicide risk, lost limbs, violent tendencies, and the chance to board airplanes first while everybody thanks them for their “service.”

To comply with the Constitution, the U.S. government now must either . . .

  1. Abide by the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact and stop launching wars.
  2. Undo corporate-personhood and dollar-speech, eliminating the influence of war profits and stop launching wars.
  3. Impeach and remove fascist warmongers and stop launching wars.

or . . .

Wait a minute, sorry, I saw the word “Constitution” and lost touch with normalized illegality. What I meant to say was: To comply with the Constitution, the U.S. government now must either . . .

  1. Impose draft registration on men and women alike, or
  2. Abolish draft registration.

Which brings us to an even crazier debate, that between the huge percentage of peace activists who favor not only draft registration but a draft, and those of us who want to see the draft abolished and war along with it. Those favoring a draft as a means to peace may tend to line up with those favoring the feminist right to be forced to kill and die. You’ll have to ask them how comfortable they are in that company. Those of us favoring the abolition of draft registration, of course, find ourselves lined up beside misogynistic warmongers.

How do I like that company? Frankly, I couldn’t care less. It’s not the point. I agree, on the topic of ending wars, with libertarians who want to end wars for the same reasons they want to end schools and parks and environmental protections. I agree on withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria and Afghanistan with certain carefully selected and not acted upon statements made by the current occupant of the White House. “You can’t help people being right for the wrong reasons,” said Arthur Koestler. “This fear of finding oneself in bad company is not an expression of political purity. It is an expression of a lack of self confidence.”

But how can I be so confident that ending Selective Service is the right thing to do?

The military draft has not been used in the United States since 1973. Neither has the War Powers Resolution, but that could very well change this month. The draft machinery has remained in place, costing the federal government about $25 million a year. Males over 18 have been required to register for the draft since 1940 (except between 1947 and 1948, and between 1975 and 1980) and still are today, with no option to register as conscientious objectors or to choose peaceful productive public service. The only reason for keeping Selective Service in place is because the draft might be started up again. While most states’ governments claim that making voter registration automatic would be too much trouble, they have made draft registration automatic for men. This suggests which registration is seen as a priority.

We’re all familiar with the argument behind peace activists’ demand for the draft, the argument that Congressman Charles Rangel made when proposing to start up a draft some years back. U.S. wars, while killing almost exclusively innocent foreigners, also kill and injure and traumatize thousands of U.S. troops drawn disproportionately from among those lacking viable educational and career alternatives. A fair draft, rather than a poverty draft, would send — if not modern-day Donald Trumps, Dick Cheneys, George W. Bushes, or Bill Clintons — at least some offspring of relatively powerful people to war. And that would create opposition, and that opposition would end the war. That’s the argument in a nutshell. Let me offer 10 reasons why I think this is sincere but misguided.

  1. History doesn’t bear it out. The drafts in the U.S. civil war (both sides), the two world wars, and the war on Korea did not end those wars, despite being much larger and in some cases fairer than the draft during the American war on Vietnam. Those drafts were despised and protested, but they took lives; they did not save lives. The very idea of a draft was widely considered an outrageous assault on basic rights and liberties even before any of these drafts. In fact, a draft proposal was successfully argued down in Congress by denouncing it as unconstitutional, despite the fact that the guy who had actually written most of the Constitution was also the president who was proposing to create the draft. Said Congressman Daniel Webster on the House floor at the time (1814): “The administration asserts the right to fill the ranks of the regular army by compulsion…Is this, sir, consistent with the character of a free government? Is this civil liberty? Is this the real character of our Constitution? No, sir, indeed it is not…Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war, in which the folly or the wickedness of government may engage it? Under what concealment has this power lain hidden, which now for the first time comes forth, with a tremendous and baleful aspect, to trample down and destroy the dearest rights of personal liberty?” When the draft came to be accepted as an emergency wartime measure during the civil and first world wars, it never would have been tolerated during peacetime. (And it’s still not anywhere to be found in the Constitution.) Only since 1940 (and under a new law in ’48), when FDR was still working on manipulating the United States into World War II, and during the subsequent 75 years of permanent wartime has “selective service” registration gone on uninterrupted for decades.  The United States had an active draft from 1940 to 1973. It didn’t stop any wars. The active draft ended in ’73, but the War on Vietnam continued until ’75. The draft machine is part of a culture of war that makes kindergarteners pledge allegiance to a flag and 18-year-old males sign up to express their willingness to go off and kill people as part of some unspecified future government project. The government already knows your Social Security number, sex, and age. The purpose of draft registration is in great part war normalization.
  2. People bled for this. When voting rights are threatened, when elections are corrupted, and even when we are admonished to hold our noses and vote for one or another of the god-awful candidates regularly placed before us, what are we reminded of? People bled for this. People risked their lives and lost their lives. People faced fire hoses and dogs. People went to jail. That’s right. And that’s why we should continue the struggle for fair and open and verifiable elections. But what do you think people did for the right not to be drafted into war? They risked their lives and lost their lives. They were hung up by their wrists. They were starved and beaten and poisoned. Eugene Debs, hero of Senator Bernie Sanders, went to prison for speaking against the draft. What would Debs make of the idea of peace activists supporting a draft in order to stir up more peace activism? I doubt he’d be able to speak through his tears.
  3. Millions dead is a cure worse than the disease. I am very well convinced that the peace movement shortened and ended the war on Vietnam, not to mention removing a president from office, helping to pass other progressive legislation, educating the public, communicating to the world that there was decency hiding in the United States, and — oh, by the way — ending the draft. And I have zero doubt that the draft had helped to build the peace movement. But the draft did not contribute to ending the war before that war had done far more damage than has any war since. We can cheer for the draft ending the war, but four million Vietnamese lay dead, along with Laotians, Cambodians, and over 50,000 U.S. troops. And as the war ended, the dying continued. Many more U.S. troops came home and killed themselves than had died in the war. Children are still born deformed by Agent Orange and other poisons used. Children are still ripped apart by explosives left behind. If you add up numerous wars in numerous nations, the United States has inflicted death and suffering on the Middle East to equal or surpass that in Vietnam, but none of the wars has used anything like as many U.S. troops as were used in Vietnam. If the U.S. government had wanted a draft and believed it could get away with starting one, it would have. If anything, the lack of a draft has restrained the killing. The U.S. military would add a draft to its existing billion-dollar recruitment efforts, not replace one with the other. And the far greater concentration of wealth and power now than in 1973 pretty well assures that the children of the super-elite would not be conscripted.
  4. Don’t underestimate support for a draft. The United States has a much greater population than do most countries of people who say they are ready to support wars and even of people who say they would be willing to fight a war. Forty-four percent of U.S. Americans now tell Gallup polling that they “would” fight in a war. Why aren’t they now fighting in one? That’s an excellent question, but one answer could be: Because there’s no draft. What if millions of young men in this country, having grown up in a culture absolutely saturated in militarism, are told it’s their duty to join a war? You saw how many joined without a draft between September 12, 2001, and 2003. Is combining those misguided motivations with a direct order from the “commander in chief” (whom many civilians already refer to in those terms) really what we want to experiment with? To protect the world from war?!
  5. The supposedly non-existent peace movement is quite real. Yes, of course, all movements were bigger in the 1960s and they did a great deal of good, and I’d willingly die to bring back that level of positive engagement. But the notion that there has been no peace movement without the draft is false. The strongest peace movement the United States has seen was probably that of the 1920s and 1930s. The peace movements since 1973 have restrained the nukes, resisted the wars, and moved many in the United States further along the path toward supporting war abolition. Public pressure blocked the United Nations from supporting recent wars, including the 2003 attack on Iraq, and made supporting that war such a badge of shame that it has kept Hillary Clinton out of the White House at least twice so far. It also resulted in concern in 2013 among members of Congress that if they backed the bombing of Syria they’d been seen as having backed “another Iraq.” Public pressure was critical in upholding a nuclear agreement with Iran in 2015. There are many ways to build the movement. You can elect a Republican president and easily multiply the ranks of the peace movement 100-fold the next day. But should you? (This was tried in 2016 and failed miserably.) You can play on people’s bigotry and depict opposition to a particular war or weapons system as nationalistic and macho, part of preparation for other better wars. But should you? You can draft millions of young men off to war and probably see some new resisters materialize. But should you? Have we really given making the honest case for ending war on moral, economic, humanitarian, environmental, and civil liberties grounds a fair try?
  6. Doesn’t Joe Biden’s son count? I too would love to see a bill passed requiring that congress members and presidents deploy to the front lines of any war they support. But in a society gone mad enough for war, even steps in that direction wouldn’t end the war making. It appears the U.S. military killed the Vice President’s son through reckless disregard for its own cannon fodder. Will the Vice President even mention it, much less make a move to end the endless warmaking? Don’t hold your breath. U.S. Presidents and Senators used to be proud to send their offspring off to die. If Wall Street can out-do the gilded age, so can the servants of the military industrial complex.
  7. We build a movement to end war by building a movement to end war. The surest way we have of reducing and then ending militarism, and the racism and materialism with which it is interwoven, is to work for the end of war. By seeking to make wars bloody enough for the aggressor that he stops aggressing, we would essentially be moving in the same direction as we already have by turning public opinion against wars in which U.S. troops die. I understand that there might be more concern over wealthier troops and greater numbers of troops. But if you can open people’s eyes to the lives of gays and lesbians and transgendered people, if you can open people’s hearts to the injustices facing African Americans murdered by police, if you can bring people to care about the other species dying off from human pollution, surely you can also bring them even further along than they’ve already come in caring about the lives of U.S. troops not in their families — and perhaps even about the lives of the non-Americans who make up the vast majority of those killed by U.S. warmaking. One result of the progress already made toward caring about U.S. deaths has been greater use of robotic drones. We need to be building opposition to war because it is the mass murder of beautiful human beings who are not in the United States and could never be drafted by the United States. A war in which no Americans die is just as much a horror as one in which they do. That understanding will end war.
  8. The right movement advances us in the right direction. Pushing to end the draft will expose those who favor it and increase opposition to their war mongering. It will involve young people, including young men who do not want to register for the draft and young women who do not want to be required to start doing so. A movement is headed in the right direction if even a compromise is progress. A compromise with a movement demanding a draft would be a small draft. That would almost certainly not work any of the magic intended, but would increase the killing. A compromise with a movement to end the draft might be the ability to register for non-military service or as a conscientious objector. That would be a step forward. We might develop out of that new models of heroism and sacrifice, new nonviolent sources of solidarity and meaning, new members of a movement in favor of substituting civilized alternatives for the whole institution of war.
  9. The war mongers want the draft too. It’s not only a certain section of peace activists who want the draft. So do the true war mongers. The selective service tested its systems at the height of the occupation of Iraq, preparing for a draft if needed. Various powerful figures in D.C. have proposed that a draft would be more fair, not because they think the fairness would end the warmaking but because they think the draft would be tolerated. Now, what happens if they decide they really want it? Should it be left available to them? Shouldn’t they at least have to recreate the selective service first, and to do so up against the concerted opposition of a public facing an imminent draft? Imagine if the United States joins the civilized world in making college free. Recruitment will be devastated. The poverty draft will suffer a major blow. The actual draft will look very desirable to the Pentagon. They may try more robots, more hiring of mercenaries, and more promises of citizenship to immigrants. We need to be focused on cutting off those angles, as well as on in fact making college free.
  10. Take away the poverty draft too. The unfairness of the poverty draft is not grounds for a larger unfairness. It needs to be ended too. It needs to be ended by opening up opportunities to everyone, including free quality education, job prospects, life prospects. Isn’t the proper solution to troops being stop-lossed not adding more troops but waging less war?

There’s also the danger of the path begun with expansion of draft registration to women leading next to compulsory short-term “national service” for all. This might even be done with military and non-military options, though one can imagine what the struggle would look like to try to give the non-military servitude — excuse me, service — the same compensation and benefits as the military.

I recommend that we actually find common ground to what little extent it exists with those who say that we should treasure women so much that we would never send them off to kill or die. Then we should work to expand that admirable outlook to include men too. Can’t we treasure men that much?

We should help find young women and men career prospects outside the machinery of death. Help create the universal right to free college. Repair the unfairness of the poverty draft and the stop-lossing of troops by giving young people alternatives and ending the wars. When we end the poverty draft and the actual draft, when we actually deny the military the troops it needs to wage war, and when we create a culture that views murder as wrong even when engaged in on a large scale and even when all the deaths are foreign, and even when women are equally involved in the killing, then we’ll actually get rid of war, not just acquire the ability to stop each war four million deaths into it.

We need a movement with women and men from around the world to create a global treaty banning all military conscription for all people.

We need a movement to abolish sexism, racism, environmental destruction, mass incarceration, poverty, illiteracy, and war.

No Fix for Recession: Without a Financial Crisis, There’s No Central Bank Policy Fix

Tue, 2019-04-16 03:07

The saying “never let a crisis go to waste” embodies several truths worth pondering as the stock market nears new highs. One truth is that extreme policies that would raise objections in typical times can be swept into law in the “we have to do something” panic of a crisis.

Thus wily insiders await (or trigger) a crisis which creates an opportunity for them to rush their self-serving “fix” into law before anyone grasps the long-term consequences.

A second truth is that crises and solutions are generally symmetric: a moderate era enables moderate solutions, crisis eras demand extreme solutions. Nobody calls for interest rates to fall to zero in eras of moderate economic growth, for example; such extreme policies may well derail the moderate growth by incentivizing risk-taking and excessive leverage.

Speculative credit bubbles inevitably deflate, and this is universally viewed as a crisis, even though the bubble was inflated by easy money, fraud, embezzlement and socializing risk and thus was entirely predictable.

The Federal Reserve and other central banks are ready for bubble-related financial crises: they have the extreme tools of zero-interest rate policy (ZIRP), negative-interest rate policy (NIRP), unlimited credit lines, unlimited liquidity, the purchase of trillions of dollars of assets, etc.

But what if the current speculative credit bubbles in junk bonds, stocks and other assets don’t crash into crisis? What if they deflate slowly, losing value steadily but with the occasional blip up to signal “the Fed has our back” and all is well?

A slow, steady decline is precisely what we can expect in an era of credit exhaustion, which I’ve covered recently: ( The Coming Global Financial Crisis: Debt Exhaustion). The central bank “solution” to runaway credit expansion that flowed into malinvestment was to lower interest rates to zero and enable tens of trillions in new debt. As a result, global debt has skyrocketed from $84 trillion to $250 trillion. Debt in China has blasted from $7 trillion 2008 to $40 trillion in 2018.

A funny thing happens when you depend on borrowing from the future (i.e. debt) to fund growth today: the new debt no longer boosts growth, as the returns on additional debt diminish. This leads to what I term credit/debt exhaustion: lenders can no longer find creditworthy borrowers, borrowers either don’t want more debt or can’t afford more debt. Whatever credit is issued is gambled in speculations that the current bubble du jour will continue indefinitely– a bet guaranteed to fail spectacularly, as every speculative credit bubble eventually implodes.

As expanding credit no longer generates real-world growth, growth slows.Over time, marginal borrowers default as revenues and profits erode, and this triggers a corresponding erosion in employment and wages.

This erosion is so gradual, it doesn’t qualify as a crisis, and therefore central banks can’t unleash crisis-era fixes. Not only do they lack the political will to launch extreme policies in a moderate decline, it would be unwise to empty the tool bag of extreme fixes at the first hint of trouble; what’s left for the crisis to come?

Even worse, if the extreme policies fail to restore rapid growth and more importantly,confidence in future rapid growththen ramping up extreme policies will be correctly interpreted as the desperate acts of clueless authorities. This will crush confidence and trigger the very crisis the authorities sought to forestall.

There are no extreme “fixes” to secular declines in sales, profits, employment, tax revenues and asset prices. Moderate stagnation will not be reversed with moderate fixes (lowering interest rates a quarter of one percent, etc.), and any attempt to institute extreme policies will expose authorities’ desperation right when confidence is vulnerable to collapse.

The Fed and other central banks are trapped in more ways than one.

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The Rabidly Hypocritical EU

Mon, 2019-04-15 20:21

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

Unlike America under Donald Trump, who is proudly psychopathic and went so far as to blurt out that his followers would accept his leadership even if he were to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, the European Union is so rabidly hypocritical (Trump would probably call it “politically correct”) that its leaders routinely moralize about ‘human rights and democracy’ even while their governments indiscriminately rob and slaughter people in foreign lands (as will be documented here). EU leaders assist U.S.-led atrocities while using prettier language to describe their alleged motivation for these policies. Though the U.S. Government also occasionally employs such verbal sucker-punches (insincere or “politically correct” rhetoric), such moralizing is now the exception for the U.S. Government, and is no longer (as it had been under the immediately prior U.S. President, Barack Obama) the routine American practice — very much like the EU’s was, and still remains: such ‘idealistic’ hypocrisy.

But even Obama wasn’t as hypocritical as EU leaders still are. The biggest difference between the U.S. and the EU is that, whereas even under America’s Nobel-Peace-Prize-winning (and continuing to be predominantly sanctified) President Obama (the invader of Libya, Syria, Yemen, and more), America’s head-of-state repeatedly said that America is “the one indispensable nation” — meaning that all other nations are “dispensable.” By contrast, there is no EU leader, and not even any European head-of-state, who says, in the modern era, anything of the sort. Adolf Hitler infamously did it when reasserting “Deutschland über alles!” (i.e, that Germany is the one indispensable nation). But modern Europe’s leaders know better than to copy such rhetoric. (Trump’s version, of course, is “America first,” but this can mean many different things, and not only  mean that “America is the one indispensable nation.” Obama’s version was far less ambiguous than Trump’s is, because Obama’s clearly means that every other  nation is “dispensable,” and that only America is not. And, yet, still, Europe’s leaders accepted  it — they accepted  that their  nations were and are “dispensable.” After all: they are vassals.)

America’s leaders are simply more honest about their psychopathy than modern Europe’s are. In fact, ever since at least the time of Ronald Reagan’s Presidency, “Greed is good” has been America’s unofficial, but clearly dominant, political philosophy — virtually the official American philosophy. How many European nations today publicly and proudly assert anything like that? Do any?

A recent example of the EU’s hyper-hypocrisy was headlined at the far-right UAWire Ukrainian news-site on March 31st, “EU urges Russia to stop attacks on Crimean Tatars”, which reported that,

The EU decisively condemns the arrest of 23 Crimean Tatars in police raids by the Russian occupation authorities in Crimea on 27 and 28 March, said EU Spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Maja Kocijancic in a statement.

“A court in the Crimean peninsula, illegally annexed from Ukraine by Russia, has ruled that all 23 Crimean Tatars detained on 27 March and 28 March will be held in pre-trial detention until 15 May. They are accused of belonging to the organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir, which is banned in Russia but not in Ukraine. The European Union does not recognise the enforcement of Russian legislation in Crimea and Sevastopol and expects all illegally detained Ukrainians to be released without delay,” Kocijancic stated.

“The recent detentions, as well as the prior searches of their private property, constitute the latest targeting of Crimean Tatars, human rights defenders, and people who have spoken out peacefully against the illegal annexation by Russia of the Crimean peninsula,” the EU spokesperson stressed. …

Here is what Wikipedia says about that banned-by-Russia group:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hizb_ut-Tahrir

Hizb ut-Tahrir (Arabic: حزب التحرير) (Translation: Party of Liberation) is an international, pan-Islamist political organisation, which describes its ideology as Islam, and its aim as the re-establishment of the Islamic Khilafah (Caliphate) to resume the Islamic way of life in the Muslim world. The caliphate would unite the Muslim community (Ummah)[4] upon their Islamic creed and implement the Shariah, so as to then carry the proselytising of Islam to the rest of the world.[5] …

Hizb ut-Tahrir has been banned in countries such as Germany, Russia, China, Egypt, Turkey,[14] and all Arab countries except Lebanon, Yemen, and the UAE.[15][16] In July 2017, the Indonesian government formally revoked Hizbut ut-Tahrir’s charter, citing incompatibility with government regulations on extremism and national ideology.[17] …

They declare the necessity of jihad so that Da’wah will be carried “to all mankind” and will “bring them into the Khilafah state,” and the importance of declaring “Jihad against the Kuffar without any lenience or hesitation;” (Ummah’s Charter),[97][117] as well as the need to fight unbelievers who refuse to be ruled by Islam, even if they pay tribute (The Islamic Personality).[97][118]

Do Europeans really want people such as this to be increasing in the EU? The Ukrainian regime that Obama had installed in February 2014 thinks it’s fine, but do Europeans, really? Obama had fooled Russia’s Government, at least until his 2012 re-election, to think that he wasn’t aiming like all his predecessors since at least the time of Reagan were aiming — for the U.S. Government ultimately to conquer and absorb Russia into the steadily growing U.S. empire — but after the bloody U.S. coup right on Russia’s doorstep in Ukraine in 2014, the EU has been clearly the U.S. regime’s vassal in this conquer-Russia enterprise — participating in it, though reluctantly.

The EU’s leadership has consistently been working in secret to assist jihadists — mass-murderers and terrorists — whenever jihadists are fighting in the U.S.-led international war against Russia and against any nation whose leadership (such as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Viktor Yanukovych, and Nicolas Maduro) are either allied with or even just friendly toward Russia. Syria, and its President, Bashar al-Assad, constitute one particular example of this EU hypocrisy.

Here are examples of this U.S.-EU support for jihadists that are trying to overthrow a Russia-friendly government:

On 10 December 2012, AFP bannered “Jihadists seize key north Syria army base”, and reported that, “Jihadists led by the radical Al-Nusra Front seized a strategic army base in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo on Monday, in a fresh setback for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. … On the political front, the EU gave a vital boost to the newly-formed Syrian opposition coalition, describing it as the ‘legitimate representatives’ of the Syrian people following talks in Brussels with its leader Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib.”

On that very same day, December 10th, Britain’s Telegraph headlined and sub-headed “Syrian rebels defy US and pledge allegiance to jihadi group: Rebel groups across Syria are defying the United States by pledging their allegiance to a group that Washington will designate today a terrorist organization for its alleged links to al-Qaeda.” That report opened: “A total of 29 opposition groups, including fighting ‘brigades’ and civilian committees, have signed a petition calling for mass demonstrations in support of Jabhat al-Nusra, an Islamist group which the White House believes is an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq.” So: no one could reasonably doubt that America’s alleged ‘rebels’ in Syria were, in fact, loyal to al-Nusra. Yet, the EU and U.S. continued supporting them.

Also on that same day, Bill Roggio at Long War Journal bannered, “Al Nusrah Front, foreign jihadists seize key Syrian base in Aleppo”, and he reported that, “The Syrian government has warned that rebels may also use chemical weapons after the Al Nusrah Front took control of a chlorine factory in Aleppo last week. Islamists hold sway over new rebel military command.” So: it was already clear, even then, that the ‘rebels’ were interested in perpetrating against civilians a chemical-weapons attack that their supporters in the U.S. and EU could then blame against Syria’s Government as being an alleged reason to invade Syria by their own forces in order to ‘protect the Syrian people and establish democracy and human rights there’, or similar lies.

The next day, December 11th, Roggio reported that “The Al Nusrah Front has by far taken the lead among the jihadist groups in executing suicide and other complex attacks against the Syrian military. The terror group is known to conduct joint operations with other Syrian jihadist organizations.”

And, on the very next day, December 12th, Roggio headlined “Syrian National Coalition urges US to drop Al Nusrah terrorism designation”. Anyone who, after this, didn’t know that the U.S. and EU were supporting jihadists to take control over Syria, was very deceived, because the truth was now known, and was then being subsequently hidden from the public, by almost all of the subsequent ‘news’-reporting. But there were a few exceptions:

On 26 January 2013, Roggio reported that,

The Al Nusrah Front has now claimed credit for 46 of the 55 suicide attacks that have taken place in Syria since December 2011, according to a tally of the operations by The Long War Journal (note that multiple suicide bombers deployed in a single operaton are counted as part of a single attack).

Al Nusrah spearheads military assaults

Al Nusrah has also served as the vanguard for jihadist forces in the major attacks on Syrian military bases. In concert with allied jihadist groups such as the Ahrar al Sham, the Islamic Vanguard, Mujahedeen Shura Council, the Muhajireen Group, and Chechen fighters, the terror group has overrun three large Syrian installations since last fall.

On 20 April 2013, Reuters headlined “Rebels battle with tribesmen over oil in Syria’s east” and reported that, “The EU said this week it wants to allow Syria’s opposition to sell crude in an effort to tilt the balance of power towards the rebels.” The EU supported and backed the ‘rebels’ seizure and black-market sale of whatever oil they could steal from Syria. This was the EU’s ‘humanitarianism’.

On 22 April 2013, the AP headlined “EU lifts Syria oil embargo to bolster rebels” and opened: “The European Union on Monday lifted its oil embargo on Syria to provide more economic support to the forces fighting to oust President Bashar Assad’s regime. The decision will allow for crude exports from rebel-held territory.”

On 1 May 2013, TIME bannered “Syria’s Opposition Hopes to Win the War by Selling Oil” and reported that, “Without an embargo, European companies can now legally begin importing barrels of oil directly from rebel groups, which have seized several oil fields in recent months, mostly around the eastern area of Deir Ezzor. That would provide the opposition with its first reliable source of income since the revolt erupted in Feb. 2011, and in theory hasten the downfall of Bashar Assad’s regime.” No mention was made, in any of this reporting, that this constituted aggression by the EU against the sovereign nation of Syria under the U.N.’s Charter and was therefore an international war-crime. The Western press didn’t care about such things — but only about ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ and other such billionaires’ bumper-stickers for suckers.

On 22 February 2019, one of the U.N.’s top experts on international law, Alfred de Zayas, was interviewed for a half hour on the ways in which America and its allies are blatantly violating international law by attempting a coup to overthrow Venezuela’s Government, and by going even further and imposing sanctions against Venezuela’s Government because it was resisting this (in effect) economic invasion-by-means-of-sanctions. The EU is one of these invading countries, but some of its constituent states oppose the U.S.-sponsored invasion.

On 31 March 2019, I headlined “EU Joins NATO’s War Against Russia” and reported on the EU’s knee-jerk increase of economic sanctions against Russia as being the initial phase — the sanctions phase — of the U.S. regime’s wars to overthrow the leaders of nations that are friendly toward Russia (e.g., Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar al-Assad, Viktor Yanukovych, and now Nicolas Maduro), and now (ever since the 2012 Magnitsky Act sanctions fraud against Russia) increasingly to apply Washington’s economic sanctions against Russia itself.

In international affairs, the EU therefore is clearly a stooge of the constantly aggressive U.S. regime.

After all, the U.S. regime had initiated and led the creation of the European Union. This scheme started as soon as FDR died and Harry S. Truman became America’s President. The death of FDR was also, in a sense, the death of any real democracy in the United States. Truman was forced onto the Democratic Party’s Presidential ticket in 1944 by the Democratic Party’s centi-millionaires against the will of FDR. Truman and Churchill started the Cold War, which increasingly became mass thought-control in America (culminating with Joseph R. McCarthy) and with the CIA’s operations Gladio in Europe and Mockingbird in the U.S. itself. First, NATO, and then the EU, were born as part of that secret U.S. strategy to conquer Russia even after the end of the U.S.S.R and of its communism and of its Warsaw Pact counterbalance to America’s NATO anti-Russian military alliance. Ever since that time (1991), America’s controlling owners of international corporations (our billionaires) have also controlled — via European nations’ own super-rich — first, Europe’s national Governments, and then the EU itself. It secretly remains true even after the 1991 end of the Cold War on Russia’s side.

Consequently: when there’s a choice to be made between supporting jihadists (or other extremists such as — in Ukrainenazis) or else to side with Russia (or any nation that’s friendly toward Russia), the American team always back the jihadists or other extremists, and they say it’s being done ‘for human rights and democracy’ and other such hypocrisies, while they perpetrate actual war-crimes, and make fools of their own publics, in order ultimately to conquer Russia. That’s doing it the “diplomatic” way, and they don’t like Trump’s doing it the “Greed is good” way. The directness of his greed makes themselves look bad. That’s why these super-hypocrites preferred Obama.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

4 Myths About Julian Assange

Sun, 2019-04-14 10:58
Myth #1: Assange is a Proven Rapist

One of the two women who accused Assange of raping them in Sweden produced a condom which they claimed was intentionally torn by Assange before using it.  However, the Sydney Morning Herald, Register and others reported that forensic DNA tests on the condom concluded that it did not contain any of Assange’s DNA. This casts doubt on the veracity of at least one of the accusers.

The Guardian also noted many odd facets of Sweden’s treatment of the rape allegations:

Swedish prosecutors attempted to drop extradition proceedings against Julian Assange as early as 2013, according to a confidential exchange of emails with the [British] Crown Prosecution Service [CPS] seen by the Guardian.

The sequence of messages also appears to challenge statements by the CPS that the case was not live at the time emails were deleted by prosecutors, according to supporters of the WikiLeaks founder. [In a separate article, the Guardian notes that CPS deleted key emails regarding Sweden’s prosecution of Assange]

***The newly-released emails show that the Swedish authorities were eager to give up the case four years before they formally abandoned proceedings in 2017 and that the CPS dissuaded them from doing so.

***

The CPS lawyer handling the case, who has since retired, commented on an article which suggested that Sweden could drop the case in August 2012. He wrote: “Don’t you dare get cold feet!!!”.

***

Not all the emails are preserved in the exchange, but three days later Ny emailed the CPS again to say: “I am sorry this came as a [bad] surprise… I hope I didn’t ruin your weekend.”

***

At the beginning of the legal battle over Assange in 2011, the CPS advised Swedish prosecutors not to interview him in Britain, but they eventually did.

I don’t know whether Assange did or did not commit rape.  But accusations are very different from convictions after all of the evidence is aired at trial.

Myth #2: The U.S. Is Protecting First Amendment Freedom of the Press, and Only Prosecuting Assange for Hacking

While the criminal indictment against Assange focuses on his alleged conspiracy with Chelsea Manning to hack a Department of Defense password, there is a lot of language complaining about standard journalism practiced by Assange.

The New York Times national security reporter Scott Shane tweets:

Even as some commentators say of the Assange charge, “This isn’t about journalism,” the indictment is written to make it about journalism.

The Washington Post’s media columnist Margaret Sullivan writes:

“The indictment discusses journalistic practices in the context of a criminal conspiracy: using encryption, making efforts to protect a source’s identity, and source cultivation,” said University of Georgia media law professor Jonathan Peters.

Those practices, he told me, are not only routine and lawful, “they’re best practices for journalists.”

***

News organizations now provide secure drop boxes for sources.

They wisely use encryption applications such as Signal to converse with, and receive information from, sources.

That these practices are cast as part of the conspiracy “should worry all journalists, whether or not Assange himself is seen as a journalist,” Peters said.

***

The risks to news organizations of prosecuting him remain very real.

The New Yorkers’ John Cassidy writes:

In explaining the charges against Assange, the indictment’s “manners and means of the conspiracy” section describes many actions that are clearly legitimate journalistic practices, such as using encrypted messages, cultivating sources, and encouraging those sources to provide more information. It cites a text exchange in which Manning told Assange, “after this upload, that’s all I really have got left,” and Assange replied, “Curious eyes never run dry in my experience.” If that’s part of a crime, the authorities might have to start building more jails to hold reporters.

The indictment, and some of the commentary it engendered, also makes much of the fact that Assange offered to try to crack a computer password for Manning. The Department of Justice claims that this action amounted to Assange engaging in a “hacking” conspiracy. Even some independent commentators have suggested that it went beyond the bounds of legitimate journalism—and the protections of the First Amendment.

But did it? On Thursday, my colleague Raffi Khatchadourian, who has written extensively about Assange, pointed out that, as of now, it looks like Assange didn’t do much, if anything, to crack the password once Manning sent the encrypted version. Khatchadourian also pointed out that federal prosecutors have known about this text exchange for many years, and yet the Obama Administration didn’t bring any charges. “As evidence of a conspiracy,” Khatchadourian writes, “the exchange is thin gruel.”

Even if Assange had succeeded in decoding the encryption, it wouldn’t have given Manning access to any classified information she couldn’t have accessed through her own account. “Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log onto the computers using a username that did not belong to her,” the indictment says. “Such a measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to identify Manning as the source of disclosures of classified information.” So the goal was to protect Manning’s identity, and Assange offered to assist. But who could argue that trying to help a source conceal his or her identity isn’t something investigative journalists do on a routine basis?

Freedom of the Press Foundation’s Trevor Timm says:

A core part of [the indictment’s] argument would criminalize many common journalist-source interactions that reporters rely on all the time. Requesting more documents from a source, using an encrypted chat messenger, or trying to keep a source’s identity anonymous are not crimes; they are vital to the journalistic process. Whether or not you like Assange, the charge against him is a serious press freedom threat and should be vigorously protested by all those who care about the First Amendment.

The ACLU’s Ben Wizner points out:

Any prosecution by the United States of Mr. Assange for Wikileaks’ publishing operations would be unprecedented and unconstitutional, and would open the door to criminal investigations of other news organizations.

***

His indictment characterizes as ‘part of’ a criminal conspiracy the routine and protected activities journalists often engage in as part of their daily jobs, such as encouraging a source to provide more information.

The Committee to Protect Journalists’ Robert Mahoney notes:

The potential implications for press freedom of this allegation of conspiracy between publisher and source are deeply troubling. With this prosecution of Julian Assange, the U.S. government could set out broad legal arguments about journalists soliciting information or interacting with sources that could have chilling consequences for investigative reporting and the publication of information of public interest.

Reporters Without Borders:Reporters Without Borders

The prosecution of those who provide or publish information of public interest comes at the expense of the investigative journalism that allows a democracy to thrive.

Electronic Frontier Foundation writes:

While the indictment of Julian Assange centers on an alleged attempt to break a password—an attempt that was not apparently successful—it is still, at root, an attack on the publication of leaked material and the most recent act in an almost decade-long effort to punish a whistleblower and the publisher of her leaked material. Several parts of the indictment describe very common journalistic behavior, like using cloud storage or knowingly receiving classified information or redacting identifying information about a source. Other parts make common free software tools like Linux and Jabber seem suspect.

Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University’s Jameel Jaffer notes:

The indictment and the Justice Department’s press release treat everyday journalistic practices as part of a criminal conspiracy. Whether the government will be able to establish a violation of the hacking statute remains to be seen, but it’s very troubling that the indictment sweeps in activities that are not just lawful but essential to press freedom—activities like cultivating sources, protecting sources’ identities, and communicating with sources securely.

The Center for Constitutional Rights notes:

The arrest sets a dangerous precedent that could extend to other media organizations such as The New York Times, particularly under a vindictive and reckless administration that regularly attacks journalistic enterprises that, just like WikiLeaks, publish leaked materials that expose government corruption and wrongdoing. This is a worrying step on the slippery slope to punishing any journalist ….

Human Rights Watch says:

Many of the actions listed in the indictment, such as holding encrypted chats, concealing a source’s identity, or using secure drop boxes, are part and parcel of journalism in the digital age, Human Rights Watch said.

***

“There is a real danger that the Assange case could become a model for governments that seek to punish media for exposing evidence of abuses” ….

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Glenn Greenwald and Micah Lee write:

The indictment seeks to criminalize what journalists are not only permitted but ethically required to do: take steps to help their sources maintain their anonymity. As longtime Assange lawyer Barry Pollack put it: “The factual allegations … boil down to encouraging a source to provide him information and taking efforts to protect the identity of that source. Journalists around the world should be deeply troubled by these unprecedented criminal charges.”

That’s why the indictment poses such a grave threat to press freedom. It characterizes as a felony many actions that journalists are not just permitted but required to take in order to conduct sensitive reporting in the digital age.

But because the DOJ issued a press release with a headline that claimed that Assange was accused of “hacking” crimes, media outlets mindlessly repeated this claim even though the indictment contains no such allegation. It merely accuses Assange of trying to help Manning avoid detection. That’s not “hacking.” That’s called a core obligation of journalism.

***

Encouraging sources to obtain more information is something journalists do routinely. Indeed, it would be a breach of one’s journalistic duties not to ask vital sources with access to classified information if they could provide even more information so as to allow more complete reporting.

***

As Edward Snowden said this morning, “Bob Woodward stated publicly he would have advised me to remain in place and act as a mole.”

***

Northwestern journalism professor Dan Kennedy explained in The Guardian in 2010 when denouncing as a press freedom threat the Obama DOJ’s attempts to indict Assange based on the theory that he did more than passively receive and publish documents — i.e., that he actively “colluded” with Manning:

The problem is that there is no meaningful distinction to be made. How did the Guardian, equally, not “collude” with WikiLeaks in obtaining the cables? How did the New York Times not “collude” with the Guardian when the Guardian gave the Times a copy following Assange’s decision to cut the Times out of the latest document dump?

For that matter, I don’t see how any news organisation can be said not to have colluded with a source when it receives leaked documents ….

Journalists have an ethical obligation to take steps to protect their sources from retaliation, which sometimes includes granting them anonymity and employing technical measures to help ensure that their identity is not discovered. When journalists take source protection seriously, they strip metadata and redact information from documents before publishing them if that information could have been used to identify their source; they host cloud-based systems such as SecureDrop, now employed by dozens of major newsrooms around the world, that make it easier and safer for whistleblowers, who may be under surveillance, to send messages and classified documents to journalists without their employers knowing; and they use secure communication tools like Signal and set them to automatically delete messages.

But today’s indictment of Assange seeks to criminalize exactly these types of source-protection efforts, as it states that “it was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning used a special folder on a cloud drop box of WikiLeaks to transmit classified records containing information related to the national defense of the United States.” 

The indictment, in numerous other passages, plainly conflates standard newsroom best practices with a criminal conspiracy. It states, for instance, that “it was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning used the ‘Jabber’ online chat service to collaborate on the acquisition and dissemination of the classified records, and to enter into the agreement to crack the password […].” There is no question that using Jabber, or any other encrypted messaging system, to communicate with sources and acquire documents with the intent to publish them, is a completely lawful and standard part of modern investigative journalism. Newsrooms across the world now use similar technologies to communicate securely with their sources and to help their sources avoid detection by the government.

The indictment similarly alleges that “it was part of the conspiracy that Assange and Manning took measures to conceal Manning as the source of the disclosure of classified records to WikiLeaks, including by removing usernames from the disclosed information and deleting chat logs between Assange and Manning.”

Removing metadata that could help identify an anonymous source, such as usernames, is a critical step in protecting sources.

Moreover, the U.S. will almost certainly add many more claims to the indictment (perhaps including espionage) if Assange is extradited to the U.S.

CNN notes:

US Justice Department officials expect to bring additional charges Assange, according to a US official briefed on the matter.

The Washington Post reports: “More charges are probably forthcoming”.

And Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois School of Law Francis Boyle points out:

Once the U.S. government has Assange over here, they can concoct whatever charges they want to against him for anything and then ask the British to waive what’s called the Rule of Specialty. That could add up to much more than the current five years Assange is facing. The British government will almost certainly consent, unless Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister.

Myth #3: Assange Will Get a Fair Trial In the U.S.

14-year CIA officer John Kiriakou notes:

Assange has been charged in the Eastern District of Virginia — the so-called “Espionage Court.” That is just what many of us have feared. Remember, no national security defendant has ever been found not guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia. The Eastern District is also known as the “rocket docket” for the swiftness with which cases are heard and decided. Not ready to mount a defense? Need more time? Haven’t received all of your discovery? Tough luck. See you in court.

Third, I have long predicted that Assange would face Judge Leonie Brinkema were he to be charged in the Eastern District. Brinkema handled my case, as well as CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling’s. She also has reserved the Ed Snowden case for herself. Brinkema is a hanging judge.

***

Brinkema gave me literally no chance to defend myself. At one point, while approaching trial, my attorneys filed 70 motions, asking that 70 classified documents be declassified so that I could use them to defend myself. I had no defense without them. We blocked off three days for the hearings. When we got to the courtroom, Brinkema said, “Let me save everybody a lot of time. I’m going to deny all 70 of these motions. You don’t need any of this information to be declassified.” The entire process took a minute. On the way out of the courtroom, I asked my lead attorney what had just happened. “We just lost the case. That’s what happened. Now we talk about a plea.”

My attorneys eventually negotiated a plea for 30 months in prison — significantly below the 45 years that the Justice Department had initially sought. The plea was something called an 11-C1C plea; it was written in stone and could not be changed by the judge. She could either take it or leave it. She took it, but not after telling me to rise, pointing her finger at me, and saying, “Mr. Kiriakou, I hate this plea. I’ve been a judge since 1986 and I’ve never had an 11C1C. If I could, I would give you ten years.” Her comments were inappropriate and my attorneys filed an ethics complaint against her. But that’s Brinkema. That’s who she is.

Julian Assange doesn’t have a prayer of a fair trial in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Myth #4:  This Is About Protecting America’s National Security

New York Times’ national security reporter Scott Shane tweets:

Given the nature of the charge — a discussion 9 years ago about an unsuccessful attempt to figure out a password — I think it’s fair to debate whether this is a figleaf for the government punishing someone for publishing stuff it doesn’t want published.

One of America’s top constitutional law experts – Jonathan Turley – writes in USA Today, in an article entitled “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be punished for embarrassing the DC establishment”:

Assange committed the unpardonable sins of embarrassing the establishment — from members of Congress to intelligence officials to the news media. And he will now be punished for our sins. 

***

Assange will be convicted of the felony of causing embarrassment in the first degree.

As we noted in 2013:

National security claims are … used to keep financial fraud secret (and people who protest runaway criminality by the big banks are targeted as terrorists).  And when those in the private sector blow the whistle on potential crimes, they are targeted also.

***Government employees also go out of their way to smear whistleblowers, threaten reporters who discuss whistleblower information and harass honest analysts.

Indeed, even high-level government employees are in danger.

For example, after the head of the NSA’s spying program – William Binney – disclosed the fact that the U.S. was spying on everyone in the U.S. and storing the data forever, and that the U.S. was quickly becoming a totalitarian state, the Feds tried to scare him into shutting up:

[Numerous] FBI officers held a gun to Binney’s head as he stepped naked from the shower. He watched with his wife and youngest son as the FBI ransacked their home. Later Binney was separated from the rest of his family, and FBI officials pressured him to implicate one of the other complainants in criminal activity. During the raid, Binney attempted to report to FBI officials the crimes he had witnessed at NSA, in particular the NSA’s violation of the constitutional rights of all Americans. However, the FBI wasn’t interested in these disclosures. Instead, FBI officials seized Binney’s private computer, which to this day has not been returned despite the fact that he has not been charged with a crime.

Other NSA whistleblowers have also been subjected to armed raids and criminal prosecution.

After high-level CIA officer John Kiriakou blew the whistle on illegal CIA torture, the government prosecuted him for espionage [And sentenced him to years in prison. And see this].

***

As such, it is clear that the point of prosecuting whistleblowers is to protect those in power, not protect our country …

Indeed, real journalists may even be treated as terrorists in modern America:

If reporters criticize those in power, they may be smeared by the government and targeted for arrest (and see this).

Indeed, the government treats real reporters as terrorists. Because the core things which reporters do could be considered terrorism, in modern America, journalists are sometimes targeted under counter-terrorism laws.

***

Not only has the government thrown media owners and reporters in jail if they’ve been too critical, it also claims the power to indefinitely detain journalists without trial or access to an attorney which chills chills free speech.

After Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others sued the government to enjoin the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans – the judge asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing about bad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge.

Public Opinion About Assange

Sun, 2019-04-14 03:25

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org

The only extensive poll of public opinion regarding Julian Assange or Wikileaks was Reuters/Ipsos on 26 April 2011, “WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange is not a criminal: global poll”, and it sampled around a thousand individuals in each of 23 countries — a total of 18,829 respondents. The Reuters news-report was vague, and not linked to any detailed presentation of the poll-findings, but it did say that “U.S. respondents had a far more critical view” against Wikileaks than in any other country, and that the view by Americans was 69% “believing Assange should be charged and 61 percent opposing WikiLeaks’ mission.” Buried elsewhere on the Web was this detailed presentation of Ipsos’s findings in that poll:

https://www.slideshare.net/mediapiac/julian-assange-and-wiki-leaks

Oppose Wikileaks:

61% U.S.

38% UK

33% Canada

32% Poland

32% Belgium

31% Saudi Arabia

30% Japan

30% France

27% Indonesia

26% Italy

25% Germany

24% Sweden

24% Australia

22% Hungary

22% Brazil

21% Turkey

21% S. Korea

16% Mexico

16% Argentina

15% Spain

15% Russia

15% India

12% S. Africa

In other words: whereas, of all 23 countries, the U.S. was #1 with 61% opposing Wikileaks, the #2 anti-Wikileaks country, UK, was 38% opposing Wikileaks — a huge drop-off from the #1 — and, from there downward, each country differed from its more-anti-Wikileaks neighbor only very slightly. So: the U.S. was a unique anti-Wikileaks stand-out there. And, whereas 42% of Americans considered Wikileaks to be “Criminals,” only 20% of UK residents did. No other country showed higher than 20% — UK was #2 on that anti-Wikileaks factor, too. Consequently, a reasonable inference would be that America’s national news-media were vastly more hostile toward Wikileaks than the news-media in any other country were. And this poll was in 2011 — prior to any partisan issue concerning the 2016 U.S. Presidential contest. This is evidence that America’s news-media are extraordinarily anti-Wikipedia. Americans have been far more indoctrinated against Wikipedia than the people in other countries have been.

On 25 October 2016 — now well into the 2016 U.S. Presidential contest — another British polling organization, this being YouGov, headlined “Turnaround in public opinion on latest Wikileaks” and reported that,

“Americans tend to approve of the release of Podesta’s emails, in stark contrast to their disapproval of the leaking of State Department cables in 2010. The release of John Podesta’s emails has proven embarrassing for the Hillary Clinton campaign, particularly the revelation of the contents of her secret speeches to banks and her aides’ strategizing over her own e-mail scandal, among other issues. Thanks to ongoing controversies surrounding Donald Trump, Clinton has largely managed to avoid having to engage with the issue, but reports from intelligence agencies suggest that the leaks may have a broader, geopolitical relevance: Russian intelligence services are suspected of being behind the hacking of Podesta’s email account.”

“The American intelligence community has widely agreed that Russia is, in some way, behind the hacking of John Podesta’s emails. Few Americans are convinced by this, however. Only 33% of Americans believe that Russia was behind the leaks. Most Democrats (59%) believe that the Russians were behind the leak, while only 11% of Republicans agree.”

Republicans now were vastly less-hostile toward Wikileaks than Democrats were: Whereas Democrats were unfavorable toward Wikileaks by 49%/20%, Republicans were favorable toward Wikileaks by 61%/17% — even more favorable than Democrats were unfavorable.

This partisan difference might, however, have subsided. The polling is sparse and unclear. The U.S. is overwhelmingly more hostile toward Wikileaks than any other country is, but its polling organizations aren’t wanting to report this but instead to ignore Wikileaks as much as possible. A slight break occurred in that on 20 November 2018, when the American pollster Rasmussen headlined “46% Want to Prosecute WikiLeaker Julian Assange” and reported that only half as many Americans, 24%, didn’t. But no Party breakdown was given.

Here are the findings from an online poll at the Democratic Party ’news’-site MSNBC, on the very day that Donald Trump’s people used Theresa May’s people to grab Assange from Lenin Moreno’s Ecuadoran Embassy in UK on 11 April 2019:

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/poll-should-julian-assange-be-prosecuted-his-involvement-wikileaks

Should Julian Assange be prosecuted for his involvement in WikiLeaks?

3,203 votes [as of noon 11 April 2019]

Yes, he is a criminal.

360 votes

No, he is a whistleblower and deserves protection.

2,843 votes

11% against Assange; 89% for Assange

That presumably oversamples Democrats, and so the strong pro-Assange finding in that poll doesn’t fit the previous finding that Republicans are less hostile toward Assange than Democrats are.

To judge by the over 12,000 reader-comments at the Republican ’news’-site Fox News’s April 11th “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested after Ecuador withdraws asylum”, there is strong, but not overwhelming, support for Trump’s prosecuting Assange. Trump therefore seems unlikely to lose much of his Republican Party base for destroying Assange.

The libertarian site, InfoWars, headlined “WILL TRUMP PARDON JULIAN ASSANGE? President to side with his base or the deep state?” and the very predominantly pro-Assange sentiment that was displayed in the reader-comments was intense. Trump would definitely lose some of those supporters (libertarians) if he destroys Assange.

The Trump-base site (which is even more pro-Trump than pro-Republican) Breitbart headlined “WikiLeaks Publisher Julian Assange Arrested by British Authorities”, and the most up-voted or “Best” of the many thousands of reader-comments there was “Hopefully, he will be extradited to the US so he can work with the Barr team to expose Obama and his administration for illegally spying on the Trump campaign in exchange for immunity.” By noon-time, it had around 700 up-votes. Consequently, if Trump fails to support Assange, then Trump will likely lose some of his existing voter-base.

The Trump team obviously are now in control of Assange’s fate, and they are doing Trump’s will regarding Assange. If the MSNBC online poll is any indication, Trump could actually expand his base — even gain some support from Democratic Party voters — by freeing Assange, either by means of his team’s legal actions, or else by means of a Presidential pardon.

If Trump turns out to be hostile towards Assange, as most people expect, then a reasonable conclusion would be that Trump is more concerned about retaining in the 2020 Presidential contest the financial backing of America’s billionaires, the mega-donors (who hate Assange and what he stands for) than of retaining his existing voter-support. Given the reality of American elections, that latter approach (destroying Assange) would probably be the likelier way for him to win re-election. Consequently, the latter approach (serving the billionaires by destroying Assange) would be the more consistent both with Trump’s personal record and with the record of U.S. Presidential elections during at least the past 60 years (such as in 2016). On the other hand, the Trump Justice Department’s indictment of Assange that was made public on April 11th turned out to be for an alleged crime whose maximum penalty would be five years in prison. Even if Assange becomes convicted, Trump could, one way or another, get Assange freed on the basis of Assange’s 7 years’ imprisonment at the Ecuadoran Embassy constituting more than enough time already served for his ‘crime’ — no need for any pardon. That outcome might even be begrudgingly accepted by the majority of America’s billionaires. (Apparently, America’s legal case against Assange is very weak; and, if that’s true, then the billionaire political donors probably wouldn’t blame Trump for that. Even Hillary Clinton couldn’t have done a ‘better’ job for them on Assange.) 

Regardless of what the American system will decide, Assange faces in America a uniquely hostile public, as was shown clearly in the 2011 Ipsos poll. Assange will therefore soon be surrounded by probably the most hostile national public anywhere on this planet. The way that Assange will be treated here is therefore going to be a fairly clear indication of the future direction of the U.S. Government — both of the American people, and of the system which is ruling us.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

Exporting Dictators

Sat, 2019-04-13 03:27

The U.S. government gets little credit for it, doesn’t even like to brag about it, but as of 2017 provided military “aid” to 73% of the world’s dictatorships. Ocassionally, the U.S. turns against one of its dictators and chooses that moment to tell everyone about him: Hussein, Noriega, Gadaffi, Assad. Sometimes it loses a dictator for other reasons: the Shah of Iran, Hosni Mubarak.

Sometimes the U.S. imposes a U.S. dictator on a foreign colony: as historically in the Philippines, or Haiti, Chile, or post-“liberation” Iraq. More often it selects and trains, imposes and props up a dictator from within the population of “natives” or “savages.” And sometimes such a dictator spends many years in the United States preparing and awaiting opportunity.

When I heard that Juan Guaido, a graduate of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., had proclaimed himself president of Venezuela, I was reminded that his fellow GW (and Harvard and Princeton) graduate Syngman Rhee was flown to South Korea by the United States government and put in charge of the place, and given the power to commit massive atrocities — the greatest of which was pushing the Korean peninsula into war. Does George Washington University recruit students with promises of small distant countries in which to have life-and-death power over the primitives?

Then Khalifa Haftar hit the news again. This guy lived in Falls Church, Virginia, from around 1990 to 2007, and Vienna, Virginia, until 2011. If you’re not from Fairfax County, Virginia, you should know that you could practically topple over a pyramid of naked Muslim prisoners on the roof of the CIA in Langley, Virginia, and land some of them in Falls Church or Vienna. Haftar was exported to Libya multiple times during those years in failed attempts to take the place over. His latest attempt has been ongoing since the United States exported him in 2011. Maybe there is an area of U.S. exports other than weaponry that is increasing.

Haftar is not unique. The D.C. area harbors a number of dictators in waiting less well known than Mike Pence. There’s Crown Prince Ahmad Shah Khan and various other members of the Afghan royal family. There’s Iranian Crown Prince Reza Pahlavi, the son of the last dictator whom the United States imposed on Iran from 1953 to 1979. Pahlavi lives in Potomac, Maryland, (across the river from Langley) and openly advocates for an overthrow of the Iranian government (because 1953 has worked out so well?) or, as the Washington Post puts it, “runs an advocacy association that is outspoken about the need for democracy in his home country.”

Now, call me crazy, but I’d like to leave it up to the people of Iran to run their own country, free of sanctions, lies, and threats. But the dictator-export industry does not seem to me to be completely without value. Surely there must be some place to which — despite his troubled apprenticeship — we can now export Donald Trump.

Assange and the Unforgivable Sin of Disemboweling Official Narratives

Sat, 2019-04-13 03:01

There is really only one unforgivable sin in the political realm, and that’s destroying the official narrative by revealing the facts of the matter. This is why whistleblowers who make public the secret machinery of the elaborately artful lies underpinning all official narratives are hounded to the ends of the Earth.

Employees of state entities such as Ellsberg, Manning and Snowden are bound by vows of secrecy and threatened by the promise of severe punishment.Outsiders such as Assange are even further beyond the pale because they can’t be accused of being traitors, as they never took the vows of secrecy required by the Deep State.

The single most damaging revelation to all the elaborate lies that make up official narratives is the truth revealed in official emails, documents and conversations. This is why virtually every document and correspondence is now “classified,” so anyone releasing even a mundane scrap can be sentenced to rot in federal prison.

In a recent C-SPAN interview, author Nomi Prins explained the incredible difficulty of accessing papers in presidential libraries now due to virtually everything being classified. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) applications must be filed, and researchers must wait years to gain access to routine correspondence that was freely available to all a decade or so ago.

Official paranoia has a 100% correlation with the amount of damage done to official narratives by any leaks of the facts of the matter. What are they so afraid of? Here’s the dynamic in play: the more fragile the narrative, the greater the dependence on half-truths and lies, the greater the official urgency to crush all whistleblowers and maintain a Stasi-like vigilance against any murmurs of dissent or doubt.

If the entire contraption wasn’t so vulnerable to exposure and so dependent on lies, why the infinite paranoia? This paranoia extends past the present system of lies into the past, as exposing the lies in decades past calls into question the official narratives of today.

Any doubt is extremely dangerous, as if even a single thread is pulled loose, the entire fabric of ginned-up statistics, false assurances, half-truths and outright lies unravels. Once the Pentagon Papers revealed the facts of the war in Vietnam, support for the official narrative collapsed essentially overnight.

In the immortal words of Jean-Claude Juncker, when it becomes serious you have to lie, and it’s now serious all the time.

The entire global status quo is on the cusp of the S-Curve decline phase. Hence the vulnerability to disruption of its official narratives and the panicky paranoia of its handlers.

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10 Reasons Assange Should Walk Free

Fri, 2019-04-12 09:05

By David Swanson, Director, World BEYOND War

  1. Governments’ (monstrous and criminal) behavior should not be secret. People should know what their government is doing, and what a powerful foreign government is doing to their own countries. The actual results of the work of WikiLeaks have been hugely beneficial.
  2. If U.S. courts were to get busy prosecuting the crimes exposed by WikiLeaks, rather than trying to turn the act of revealing them into some sort of crime, they would simply not have time for the latter.
  3. Prosecutions should not be arbitrary political choices. A Justice Department wrongly under the thumb of Obama decided against prosecuting Assange. A Justice Department wrongly under the thumb of Trump decided to prosecute, based on exactly the same information but different politics. When Trump was celebrating WikiLeaks three years ago it was for acts of journalism he is not prosecuting; instead he is prosecuting just the journalism that he opposes.
  4. The choice to prosecute these particular acts is driven by the military industrial complex, but also by Russiagate. The U.S. media and top politicians have long sought to depict Julian Assange as something other than a journalist on the fictional grounds that he is in the employ of or collaborating with an enemy government. If Assange had exposed the peccadilloes of the peace movement, or if he had not figured in the Russiagate myth, he would be free. They’d let him be. Breathing air like you and me.
  5. Nobody on either side of the debate right now has knowledge of or is focused on the details of the allegation that Assange did something unjournalistic by attempting unsuccessfully to hack into a computer in order to protect a source. This trial by media is no more about that than the Monica Lewinsky scandal was about lying under oath. And the trial by jury is likely to resemble the trial by media, if previous trials, such as Jeffrey Sterling’s, in the Virginia court of choice for patriotic railroaders are any guide.
  6. The details of that unjournalistic allegation are likely very weak, because the indictment throws in various other allegations that are purely journalistic: encouraging a source, protecting a source. To an ignorant, all-white, militarized-community jury impressed by important national figures saying the word “conspiracy” a lot, these other allegations will loom large.
  7. If the United States charges Assange with violating horribly anti-democratic U.S. secrecy laws, and denounces him on TV as a “traitor,” despite Assange not being a U.S. citizen, other countries may begin to find the nerve to charge U.S. journalists with violating their secrecy laws. The next Washington Post reporter hacked to death by Saudi Arabia may get a trial first.
  8. If Assange is brought to the United States and not convicted, or is convicted and serves out a sentence, one can expect the U.S. government, legally or otherwise, to further prosecute or simply imprison him indefinitely. In the propaganda that surrounds this drama it is not a legal proceeding, but a war. If Trump gets away with the numerous crimes and outrages he has thus far gotten away with, he or his successor will have little difficulty devising a way to further “protect” us from Assange.
  9. If Assange is prosecuted, many U.S. journalists will deliver a self-inflicted blow to their institution dwarfing what the U.S. government delivers. They will declare it fit and proper for a single head of a secretive government to sadistically punish disapproved of journalists. They will pledge their loyalty not to truth or public knowledge, but to the Empire.
  10. This.

Blind Faith vs. the Bottom Line

Fri, 2019-04-12 01:06

We’ve reached an interesting moment in history where we each have a simple choice: we either go with blind faith or we go with the bottom line, i.e. the facts of the matter. So far, 2019 is the year of Blind Faith, as the charts below illustrate: the bottom line no longer matters.

Let’s start with the Ray Dalio Effect, which strikes financiers who’ve exploited our rigged system to skim billions while creating zero goods and services or public good: discerning that the millions whose labor has created the actual goods, services and public good will eventually tear down his Bastille of ill-gotten wealth stone by stone, Mr. Dalio rigs a corporate media appearance (the door is always open to billionaire financiers) to weep alligator tears while decrying the very system he exploited and suggesting we throw a few more crumbs to the mob to distract them from the awareness that his billions were ultimately skimmed from the wealth they generated.

Nice timing, Mr. Dalio: It’s awfully convenient of you to decry the system you helped create after you’ve skimmed your ill-gotten billions rather then before.

Then there’s the blind faith that nose-bleed stock valuations can only go higher. Courtesy of The era of ‘price-insensitive buying’ has led to this troubling chart(MarketWatch), here’s a chart of the valuation of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJI), which now exceeds the insane extremes of the dot-com bubble circa 1999-2000.

Blind faith was the punter’s choice in late 1999-early 2000 as well. The bottom line no longer mattered.

In another victory of blind faith over the bottom line, IPOs with negative earnings have reached the profits-don’t-matter craziness of the dot-com bubble: but blind faith assures us that this time it’s different and this is not a bubble.Rewarding Reckless Risk Pricing… Again! (Zero Hedge)

Then there’s the little spot of bother with everyone’s favorite object of blind faith, Apple: iPhone sales have flatlined even as Apple slashes prices in weakening markets.

So what does Blind Faith do? Bid up Apple shares 40%.

Meanwhile, in the real world of people creating wealth with their labor, workers’ share of the national income has cratered while the financiers piled up their billions. The greatest expansion of wealth in U.S. history has created the greatest expansion of wealth inequality in U.S. history.

There is more than a little “let them eat brioche” in the blind faith that the masses’ patience for pillage is infinite. Here’s a chart of healthcare-related costs and wages. Note the healthcare costs have soared far above the meager wage increases, which means disposable income has cratered. Rents, childcare, college tuition and local taxes/fees have similarly outpaced wages.

So by all means, put your blind faith in the Three Monkeys and ignore the bottom line. These monkeys agree with Marie Antoinette, “let them eat brioche”.

 

Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic ($6.95 ebook, $12 print, $13.08 audiobook): Read the first section for free in PDF format.

My new mystery The Adventures of the Consulting Philosopher: The Disappearance of Drake is a ridiculously affordable $1.29 (Kindle) or $8.95 (print); read the first chapters for free (PDF)

My book Money and Work Unchained is now $6.95 for the Kindle ebook and $15 for the print edition. Read the first section for free in PDF format. 

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1992-2019 Terror Exports- Why Ukraine’s Election won’t Matter

Fri, 2019-04-12 00:06

The shame of post-2014 Ukraine is that the only equivalent situation that could exist today is putting the Ukrainian SS death camp guards, their families, and officers’ in charge of Israel. Would giving death camp torturers and lever pullers free rein to do what they want to an entire people have been the thing to do after WWII?

As you’ll soon see, the Israeli’s and some stellar international Jewish leaders think so as long as it ain’t them.

In 2014, Israel’s Ambassador to Ukraine Reuven Din El and the ADL’s Abe Foxman met with Pravy Sektor leader Dimitry Yarosh. Even though Yarosh is a disciple of the WWII criminal Bandera and the Israelis know the OUNb murdered 900,000 Ukrainian Jews in Ukraine, they decided they believed Yarosh that the OUN is not anti-Semitic.

What Yarosh may not have told them but they knew anyway, is that prior to Pravy Sektor, he was the leader of Trizub Bandery. It was the militant arm of Slava Stetsko’s new political party in Ukraine called CUN (Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists). Yarosh was the WWII murderess’ bodyguard. In his eyes, he was the heir apparent and incarnation of what Nazi sycophant Stepan Bandera would hope for to lead Ukrainian nationalists in 2014.

So, of course, Jewish leaders had every right to give Yarosh a clean bill of political health to the rest of the world. Sure. That was the only reasonable and responsible thing for them to do.  Ukraine still denies any responsibility for the millions of lives their progenitors took or the lives they are taking today.

Slava Stetsko’s OUNb (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists –Bandera faction) made a triumphant entry into Ukraine and cemented the dominance Diaspora nationalists would have in the region. When she came in June 1991, part of celebrating her husband’s work was commemorating the June 1941 Lviv Pogrom her husband started. He was celebrating his declaration of the Ukrainian state which never came into being.

Why is this relevant to the events of 2014 through the 2019 Ukrainian election? What does it have to do with exporting terrorism?

Back in 1991, the Ukrainian nationalists OUNb were at a loss at how to proceed. “It had great ideological difficulties, however, because of its confrontation with Western democracy, its inability to deal fully with the question of the political beliefs of Ukrainians in Ukraine, and its lack of contact with political processes there.” Encyclopedia of Ukraine- Nationalism article.

Since their side (Nazi) lost the war, the Ukrainians were never able to set up a state. 1991 provided the perfect opportunity and let’s face it that only comes around once. The nationalists, now based in the Ukrainian Diaspora thought they would inherit Bukovina and Galicia. Instead, they hit the jackpot with all of Soviet Ukraine.

The Ukrainian nationalists were given the lands they couldn’t conquer or coax into line. The problem they faced was over 80% of those lands were never nationalist and hated OUNb fascism. Diaspora Ukrainian nationalists thought people in Ukraine were too Sovietized and could not be remade into nationalists.

The Ukrainian nationalists started a slow process of genocide through Ecocide across Ukraine and especially in Donbass. The Ukrainians suppressed the economy in areas not hospitable to their politics and moved the money and resources toward western Ukraine. The thought was and is if you can’t convert them, kill them or move them out of the way.

The Diaspora and OUN leadership started handpicking politicians in Ukraine based on these objectives.


How both Stetsko’s viewed Jews in 1941 is how Ukrainian nationalists see today’s Donbass and the way they want to resolve the situation for posterity. Why does post-Soviet Ukraine and especially Donbass Russians have less value than animals to the Ukrainian government?
“Although I consider Moscow, which in fact held Ukraine in captivity, and not Jewry, to be the main and decisive enemy, I nonetheless fully appreciate the undeniably harmful and hostile role of the Jews, who are helping Moscow to enslave Ukraine. I therefore support the destruction of the Jews and the expedience of bringing German methods of exterminating  Jewry to Ukraine, barring their assimilation and the like.
–Yaroslav Stetsko Carynnyk, ‘A Knife in the Back of Our Revolution’

For any of this to be current and threatening, reality dictates the World War II relic OUNb has to exist today, doesn’t it? For there to be a Nazi threat, there has to be Nazis. Is it possible Ukraine could find people so filled with hate; they fill those shoes in 2019?

Imagine finding out real political Nazis not only exist, but you also subsidize them. Do you think your WWII era grandparents would talk to you after finding out you supported this “democracy?”

Since 1992, different factions of the OUN have control of Ukraine. When it looked like that grip might weaken, Yanukovych was kicked to the curb in 2014.

According to the Ukrainian Weekly in a rare open statement of their existence in 2011, “Other statements were issued in the Ukrainian language by the leadership of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (B) and the International Conference in Support of Ukraine. The OUN (Bandera wing) called for the release of Ms. Tymoshenko and Mr. Lutsenko, and demanded judicial proceedings based on democratic … the correct response on the part of both the diaspora and Ukrainians in the homeland would be a boycott of representatives of Ukraine’s authorities.”

Now we have 2019 Ukrainian presidential candidate #2, Yulia Tymoshenko and her lieutenant Lutsenko firmly ensconced in and protected by the OUNb. This Nazi group predates Adolf Hitler and has never changed politic or policy.

By turning a blind eye to the Ukrainian nationalism’s fascist policies against post-Soviet Ukrainians, the West doomed the country to eventual failure. Ukrainian citizens are not going to stay under the boot of fascist-leaning politicians and political activists forever.

What happens when Ukrainians fully realize their country’s policies hurting them and their children originate in cities like Boston, Edmonton, Geelong,  Bound Brook, or Kersonkson NY as long as they support a Poroshenko, Tymoshenko, or Zelensky?

And after normal people and journalists in the US, EU, AU, or Canada figure it out, how many western country politicians are going to sit back and allow Ukraine to export terrorists under various nationalisms back into their own borders?

None of this could have happened if the Ukrainian Diaspora were kept out of Ukraine post-1991. This is a look at the continuity of violence and genocide Ukraine and its Diaspora export. Post-1991 Ukraine joined the Diaspora ranks of “the Ukraine” in the worldwide propagation of nationalist uprisings, assassination, and murder.

The monster the western world has for so long chosen to ignore isn’t on its way home. It’s already coming out of the closet and eating the children.

The rest of the article won’t be about what Donbass and what’s left of Ukraine face after Ukraine’s 2019 election. Regardless of which nationalist wins, that result is already clear. Instead, it’s about what’s happened, what’s happening, and what may happen in your world.

“Stetsko argued that Fascism, National Socialism, and the coming Ukrainian uprising were links in the chain of a single world revolution. Ukrainian nationalism would bring down Russia and open a new chapter in the history of Eastern Europe.‘The tasks of Ukrainian nationalism’, he wrote, ‘begin where the tasks of Fascism and National Socialism end.” Carynnyk, ‘A Knife in the Back of Our Revolution’

Slava Stetsko believed this until she died and worked to achieve it for over 60 years. By combining all the little statelets that had no power, she created a lobby bloc and voting bloc in the US that determined election outcomes. Congressmen and national candidates needed her money to be in the game. Her goal wasn’t Democracy, not as you think of it. Nationalists in general view Democracy as a form of Socialism or Internationalism. They are all fascists whether they realize it or not.

Rolling all the ethnic nationalist groups into “the Ukrainians” to gain power and influence foreign policy was the only thing that made sense.- Madison, Wilson, and East Central European Federalism- A Dissertation submitted to The Division of Research and Advanced Studies Of the University of Cincinnati DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY (Ph.D.) in the Department of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences 2006 by Jonathan H. Levy

“This might appear confusing or even contradictory, but it is necessary in order to demonstrate the complexity of the meaning of “fascism” in the ideology of the Ukrainian nationalists, who called themselves “nationalists” but emphasized that they belonged to the family of European fascist movements and were closely related to the Italian Fascists, German  National Socialists, British Fascists, Croatian Ustaša, and other similar movements. By examining Ukrainian radical nationalism in the context of fascist studies.” – The Fascist Kernel of Ukrainian Nationalism

Before you roll your eyes and yawn, let’s look at how a letter to Congress is signed from this kind of nationalist group asserting its power. Better yet, the following link contains an actual letter and email addresses of leaders in case you need to clarify anything in this article.

As the leaders of more than two dozen American ethnic organizations, representing tens of millions of voters across the United States, we call on you to provide vital support to Ukraine by immediately passing Senate Bill 2124.

Respectfully yours,

Naci Tozer President American Association of Crimean Turks, Sean Pender President New Jersey Chapter Ancient Order of Hibernians in America Inc., Dan Dennehy Chairman National & NYS Immigration Ancient Order of Hibernians in America Inc., Darek Barcikowski Secretary & Executive Board Member American Polish Advisory Council, Marilyn Piurek Co-Founder & Advisor American Polish Advisory Council, James J. Zogby President Arab American Institute, Mehmet Celebi President Assembly of Turkish American Associations, Javid Huseynov General Director Azerbaijan-American Council, Tomris Azeri President Azerbaijan-American Society, Walter Zaryckyj Executive Director Center for US-Ukrainian Relations, Marju Rink-Abel President Estonian American National Council, Atilla Pak President Federation of Turkish American Associations, Maximilian N. Teleki President Hungarian American Coalition, Karl Altau Managing Director Joint Baltic American National Committee Inc., Marta Farion President Kyiv Mohyla Foundation of America, Lyuba Shipovich President RAZOM, Ayla Bakkalli USA Representative The Crimean Tatar Mejlis, Julian Kulas President The Heritage Foundation, Maria Shust Director The Ukrainian Museum, Andrew Bihun President The Washington Group, Ukrainian-American Assoc. of Professionals,US UNITED WITH UKRAINE COALITION, Petro Kostiv President Ukrainian American Bar Association, Ihor Gawdiak President Ukrainian American Coordinating Council, Most. Rev. Stefan Soroka Metropolitan Ukrainian Catholic Church in USA, Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainians, Alex Strilchuk President Illinois Division Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Ihor Kusznir President Philadelphia Chapter Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Ulana Mazurkevich President Ukrainian Human Rights Committee, Andrew Fedynsky Director Ukrainian Museum-Archives, Stefan Kaczaraj President Ukrainian National Association, Inc., Marianna Zajac President Ukrainian National Women’s League of America (UNWLA), His Eminence Antony Metropolitan and Prime Hierarch Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, His Grace Bishop Daniel President of the Consistory Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, Marta Liscynesky Kelleher President United American Organizations of Ohio, Meto Koloski President United Macedonian Diaspora, Larissa Kyj President United Ukrainian American Relief Committee, Alexandra Chalupa Founder & Acting President US United With Ukraine”

The nationalists started spreading their wings again and under the Ukrainian banner teach the world’s disgruntled how to be better at terror. And they started spending hundreds of millions of dollars for the privilege of doing it. Those signatures represent a fraction of signatory groups.

From 1991 onward, the Ukrainian nationalists have been tied to the major terrorist groups plaguing the West. They train them, train with them, and fight with them.

The Ukrainian nationalists fought alongside Chechen rebels that earlier went to Afghanistan and fought for the Taliban.


According to EA Daily
, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was involved in torture and executions of Russian POWs in the Chechen War. Yatsenyuk was a member of the Ukrainian nationalist UNA-UNSO whose leader Yuriy Shukhevych whose father was the leader of the WWII UPA and a Waffen SS officer.
Yatsenyuk was awarded the Chechen rebels Dzhokhar Dudayev’s military decoration “Dignity of the Nation.” The importance of this is when the Chechen rebel Dzhokhar Dudayev battalion leaves Syria and bring ISIS/IGIL to the battlefields of Donbass. Ukraine works directly with ISIS/IGIL.

According to the EA Daily article, the list of current Ukrainian politicians involved includes Dmitry Korchinsky, the head of UNA-UNSO, Dmitry Yarosh, deputy of the Supreme Rada, Valery Bobrovych, the commander of the punitive battalion “Argo,” Oleh Tyahnybok, deputy of the Supreme Rada and his brother Andrey Tyahnybok.

When and where did “the Ukrainians” get involved with Islamic terrorists?
In the spring of 2014, ISIS officially entered the service of the Ukrainian government as it was gearing up to slaughter the citizens in Donbass at the invitation of then Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, interim president Olexandr Turchynov,  and future President of Ukraine, Petr Poroshenko.

In the late 1920s, Islamic political radicals in Egypt formed a group called the Muslim Brotherhood. The group “Young Egyptians” followed.  Members of these groups intertwined and were part of or in step with the Promethean Project and were part of “the Ukrainians.”Their ties to Ukraine originally were membership in an exclusive group called the Nazi Axis by every country fighting Adolf Hitler.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its subsequent terrorist groups are the product of Western philosophy, not the religion of Islam.

The funny thing about these terrorists they can quote fascist philosophers like Julius Evola a lot easier than they can quote their own supposed holy book.

The Brotherhood with regard to their religious and mystical leanings are Sufi or more specifically Qutbist, for those who follow Sayyid Qutb. This is the philosophy of the Muslim Brotherhood which is essentially Neoplatonic and does not distinguish between matters of belief, so long as people adhere to their movement. This is why the outwardly Shia al Zawahiri and the outwardly Sunni bin Laden can be comrades and brothers.

In an article titled “Terror, Islam and Democracy,” Ladan and Roya Boroumand correctly state that “Most young Islamist cadres today are the direct intellectual and spiritual heirs of the Qutbist wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.” And further, “When the authoritarian regime of President Gamel Abdel Nasser suppressed the Muslim Brothers in 1954 (it would eventually get around to hanging Qutb in 1966), many went into exile in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, and Morocco. From there, they spread their revolutionary Islamist ideas – including the organizational and ideological tools borrowed from European totalitarianism.”
The Independent’s John Gray argues in an article entitled “How Marx turned Muslim” that Qutbism is not rooted in the Islamic 
tradition, but rather, is very much a Western-based ideology. 

Shaykh Rabee’ ibn Hadi al-Madkhali, the renowned Salafi scholar who has written several books refuting the mistakes of Sayyid Qutb, concludes the following about Qutbism: “The Qutbists are the followers of Sayyid Qutb… everything you see of the tribulations, the shedding of blood and the problems in the Islamic world today arise from the methodology (of this man).”

They are what is behind Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, ISIS/IGIL in the Middle East. Their central and eastern European counterparts are found in the old Hapsburg Empire holdings. This is why ISIS came to Ukraine and fought for the nationalists in Donbass. They have been connected to Bandera since the 1930s.

Now, this is a huge allegation for the average reader even knowing how large the Ukrainian lobby is in the US. And, yes Virginia there is a worldwide conspiracy going on, but it’s a lot simpler than you think.

In an article aptly titled Democrat Says Americans Owe Nazis for Suffering and Gives ISIS Eulogy on C-SPAN, it’s made hurtfully clear that a progressive Congressional rep with a stellar record in her district can be a vehement supporter of ISIS/IGIL and genocide at the same time. She can support the murder and torture of people she hates because her ethnic community fought against them and lost in WWII. Marcy Kaptur is a Ukrainian nationalist and this political disease infects both parties today.

When a Congressional Rep gives a eulogy for killed ISIS head-choppers in Congress, on C-SPAN; sorry kids, it’s past time to slam the brakes on this train.

It was the Ukrainians that infected the 2016 US election with their brand of hate and we’ll be revisiting this later. Next, we’ll dive into the first round of the Ukrainian election and what it means there. Following shortly after that, we’ll look at what happened in Charleston in light of where the real provocations are coming from. Care to guess?

For more than 100 years, Ukrainian nationalism has brought nothing but hate, pain, and suffering to the world. The 2019 election in Ukraine isn’t going to change that unless the international community decides they’ve had enough terrorism in this decade.

Force Ukraine to fulfill the Minsk Agreement. Make Ukraine obligated to social and economic reform in Ukraine. Stop the civil war and provocations with Russia.

 

Gallup Finds Widespread Rejection of U.S. Leadership by NATO Publics

Thu, 2019-04-11 05:20

Reports That 23 of 27 U.S. Allies in NATO Disapprove of U.S. Leadership

Eric Zuesse

Gallup’s “Rating World Leaders: 2019” finds that:

Approval of U.S. leadership, among NATO allies, in which the publics in all 27 non-U.S. NATO countries answer the question

“Do you approve or disapprove of the job performance of the leadership of the United States?”

turns out to be:

——

POSITIVE VIEWS BY NATO ALLIES OF U.S. LEADERSHIP

Albania 69/20 (69% “Approve” 20% “Disapprove”)

Poland 49/30

Hungary 42/22

Romania 42/28

——

NEGATIVE VIEWS BY NATO ALLIES OF U.S. LEADERSHIP

Italy 36/57

Croatia 31/52

Czech 31/38

Denmark 31/65

Lithuania 28/41

Montenegro 28/39

Slovakia 27/56

France 27/65

UK 26/64

Bulgaria 23/34

Spain 22/73

Netherlands 21/77

Slovenia 21/74

Greece 19/57

Luxembourg 18/74

Germany 17/73

Belgium 16/74

Canada 16/79

Estonia 14/50

Portugal 14/74

Turkey 14/73

Latvia 13/55

Norway 12/87

——

For comparison, here were the figures from the prior “Rating World Leaders: 2018”:

POSITIVE VIEWS BY NATO ALLIES OF U.S. LEADERSHIP

Albania 72/15

Poland 56/24

Hungary 41/31

Romania 41/26

——

NEGATIVE VIEWS BY NATO ALLIES OF U.S. LEADERSHIP

Italy 45/48

Croatia 24/51

Czech 38/41

Denmark 29/65

Lithuania 33/44

Montenegro 25/49

Slovakia 37/44

France 25/65

UK 33/63

Bulgaria 28/47

Spain 26/67

Netherlands 21/74

Slovenia 24/69

Greece 18/56

Luxembourg 21/71

Germany 22/72

Belgium 20/73

Canada 20/76

Estonia 17/48

Portugal 12/69

Turkey 27/59

Latvia 21/51

Norway 13/83

MY COMMENTARY:

At least under the present U.S. Government, any sort of democratic NATO would either abandon its military alliance with the U.S., or else 23 of the 28 NATO member nations would individually abandon NATO altogether. How can a democratic nation be militarily allied with (much less dominated by) a Government that its own population despises?

Though NATO was set-up at the start to be the U.S.-led capitalistic military alliance against the communistic U.S.S.R., lots has changed since that time. Today’s NATO, as led by the U.S. Government, no longer has the support of the citizenries in 24 of the other 27 non-U.S. NATO-member nations. This means that the present U.S. Government is viewed as unfit to lead NATO, and maybe even as being unfit to be a military “ally” at all, of their own nation.

Of course, any NATO nation that’s not a democracy doesn’t represent its citizenry but merely controls them; and, if and where that is the case, continued U.S. leadership of NATO is no problem, because the public there are actually only subjects to be ruled, and not authentically citizens who rule their country.

Consequently, whether or not the present situation will result in most European nations abandoning their military alliance with the United States will depend upon the extent to which NATO member-nations are democratic, or else are, instead, aristocratic or “oligarchic.”

The present widespread rejection, by Europeans and Canadians, of the U.S. Government, has continued now for at least two years, and if America’s 2020 Presidential contest fails to oust the current U.S. regime, the likelihood that a break-up or even termination of NATO will happen fairly soon after Trump is re-elected would be high in any European nation that’s at all democratic. At least some nations will probably abandon NATO then. However, if, instead, the Democratic Party’s nominee wins, there is at least a reasonable chance that the non-U.S. NATO members will remain in what has become no longer the anti-communist alliance, but instead became simply the anti-Russian alliance, such as U.S. President George Herbert Walker Bush privately, on 24 February 1990, instructed America’s vassal nations to be. That entire U.S. plan to conquer Russia could likely fail if Trump is re-elected. But if the Democratic nominee wins the U.S. Presidency, then the only way in which the U.S.-led permanent war against Russia and its allies could be stopped would be if the new Democratic President would openly condemn the permanent-war-for-permanent-‘peace’ policy that U.S. Presidents ever since at least the Presidency of Ronald Reagan have been pursuing and which has kept America’s military-industrial complex thriving. This would require election of a Democratic Presidential nominee who receives little or no campaign money from the military-industrial complex and from Wall Street. If the Democratic Party remains, like the Republican Party has always been since the end of World War II, totally dependent upon mega-donors, then there will virtually certainly continue to be “permanent war for permanent ‘peace’,” and America will therefore continue to rot.

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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