After falling from a $20,000 high to a $6,000 low, Bitcoin has rebounded and seems to have found its footing.
Mitt Romney isn’t the first presidential runner-up to seek a return to elected office. Although, it’s the rare example of a new line of work (U.S. Senator), in a new state (Utah). Should he win, Romney will have to tread lightly as a perceived foe of the Trump White House and a possible 2020 rival.
Ash vs Evil Dead season 3 goes there and then some.
The torrent of reckless false accusations against Russia made by the US and its NATO allies is hitting warp speed.
This week saw more baseless allegations of Russian cyber attacks on American elections and British industries.
There were also crass claims by US officials that Russia was behind so-called sonic attacks on American diplomats in Cuba.
Then a Dutch foreign minister was forced to resign after he finally admitted telling lies for the past two years over alleged Russian plans for regional aggression.
Elsewhere, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson claimed this week during a tour of the Middle East that “the primary goal” of his nation’s involvement in Syria is “to defeat” Islamic State (Daesh) terrorism.
This is patently false given that the US forces illegally occupying parts of Syria are launching lethal attacks on Syrian armed forces who are actually fighting Islamic State and their myriad terrorist affiliates.
Meanwhile, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley accused Russia of blocking peace efforts in Syria – another audacious falsehood to add to her thick compendium of calumny.
Perhaps the most barefaced falsehood transpired this week when French President Emmanuel Macron candidly admitted that his government did not have any proof of chemical weapons being used in Syria.
“Today, our agencies, our armed forces have not established that chemical weapons, as set out in treaties, have been used against the civilian population,” said Macron to media in Paris.
His admission follows that of US Defense Secretary James Mattis who also fessed up earlier this month to having no evidence of chemical weapons being deployed in Syria.
“We have other reports from the battlefield from people who claim it’s been used,” said Mattis to reporters at the Pentagon. “We do not have evidence of it.”
Yet, only a few weeks ago, the French and US government were condemning Syrian President Assad for alleged use of chemical weapons by his forces. France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also accused Russia of bearing responsibility because of its alliance with Damascus.
But now we are told that the French and US governments do not, in fact, have any evidence concerning chemical weapons in Syria.
This is in spite of US President Donald Trump unleashing over 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles on the Arab country last April in purported reprisal for the “Syrian regime” dropping chemical munitions on the town of Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Province on April 4 2o17.
Macron went on to make the absurd declaration this week that “if” chemical weapons were found to be used then he would order military strikes on Syria.
Both Syria and Russia have categorically and repeatedly rejected claims of using chemical weapons, pointing out that Syria’s stockpile was eliminated back in 2014 under a UN-brokered deal.
When Mattis said “we have reports from the battlefield” he was referring to groups like the CIA covertly-sponsored terrorist outfit Al Nusra Front and their media outlet, the so-called White Helmets.
Western news media footage over the past two weeks seemingly depicting Syrian and Russian air strikes on civilian areas is sourced from the White Helmets. This group is embedded with Al Nusra.
The same warped narrative claiming Syrian and Russian violations during the liberation of Aleppo from the terrorists at the end of 2016 is being played out again in East Ghouta and Idlib. And again the Western news media are amplifying the dubious propaganda from the likes of the White Helmets as if it is independent, verified information.
This week in Paris Abdulrahman Almawwas, the so-called vice president of the White Helmets, which also go by the name of Syria Civil Defense, told the Reuters news agency that France and other NATO powers must intervene in Syria.
“It’s time to take real action and not just talk about red lines,” said Almawwas, who was clearly disappointed after hearing Macron’s admission of no evidence for chemical weapons.
Tellingly, the White Helmets’ envoy was hosted by senior French government officials while in Paris, including Macron’s chief diplomatic advisor, according to Reuters.
He also went on to complain – unwittingly – that the White Helmets have received less funding from foreign governments this year compared with last year.
Reuters reported: “Almawwas said the group’s financing for 2018 from foreign governments [sic] had dropped to $12 million from $18 million a year earlier.”
According to the White Helmets’ own website, the foreign governments whom they receive financing from include: the United States, Britain, France, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Canada, among others.
In other words, this so-called humanitarian relief organization is a NATO-sponsored entity, which evidently operates freely in areas of Syria controlled by Al Nusra and other internationally proscribed terror groups.
And this is the same “source” which has been used by the NATO governments and Western news media to disseminate claims about Syrian state forces using chemical weapons against civilians – claims which senior US and French officials are now belatedly negating.
What we have here is demonstrable peddling of falsehoods and lies by Western governments and their news media.
Not just with regard to the war in Syria, but on a range of other international incendiary issues, as noted above.
Accusing Russia of aggression, nuclear threats, sabotaging elections, targeting civilian infrastructure which could “kill thousands and thousands” (British Defense Minister Gavin Williamson last month), or any number of other wild allegations, is symptomatic of sociopathic lying by Western governments.
The reckless falsehoods and lies espoused by the US and its European allies are made possible because of the reprehensible servility of Western media not holding to account the wild claims that they willfully disseminate.
This relentless propagation of lies is an appalling incitement to tensions, conflict and war.
Engaging in war fever is not only irresponsible. It is in fact a war crime, according to Nuremberg legal standards.
Julian Assange hit back at The Intercept over a February 14 article claiming he backed Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in leaked group chats from a disgruntled former WikiLeaks associate who set up the chat room.
[I]n the fall of 2015, Trump was polling at less than 30 percent among Republican voters, neck-and-neck with neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and Assange spoke freely about why WikiLeaks wanted Clinton and the Democrats to lose the election.
“We believe it would be much better for GOP to win,” he typed into a private Twitter direct message group to an assortment of WikiLeaks’ most loyal supporters on Twitter. “Dems+Media+liberals woudl then form a block to reign in their worst qualities,” he wrote. “With Hillary in charge, GOP will be pushing for her worst qualities., dems+media+neoliberals will be mute.” He paused for two minutes before adding, “She’s a bright, well connected, sadistic sociopath.” –The Intercept
In a series of rebuttals over Twitter, Assange notes that The Intercept’s Micah Lee failed to do basic fact checking, such as noting that the WikiLeaks account has a rotating staff (i.e. anyone could have written the controversial messages), and used “messages from late Oct 2016 when I infamously had no internet access.”
– the @WikiLeaks account is run by a rotating staff as has been repeatedly stated over the years: https://t.co/RYrYbLeaNt
– basic fact checking would have shown this. another example: the article uses messages from late Oct 2016 when I infamously had no internet access.
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) February 14, 2018
Assange also notes Lee’s long-standing grudge against the WikiLeaks co-founder, which he called “obsessive” and “obscenity laden.”
– the editorial propriety of letting Micah F Lee, of all people, instrumentalize the Intercept to further his obsessive, obscenity laden campaign against WikiLeaks must be questioned. Lee was formally behind cutting off WikiLeaks’ US tax deductible donations.
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) February 14, 2018
– after I wrote to the FPF board last year on that serious subject, Lee has become hysterical. The conflict of interest is obvious. Such a story should have been given to someone else. By failing to do so the story’s credibility has been marred.
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) February 14, 2018
– here is the letter to the board on the financial threat to WikiLeaks together with the full context (as you expect and love from us) https://t.co/hAnISYZzX0
– the fragments referencing Lee are below, but I do recommend reading the whole letter. Bonus for John Perry Barlow fans. pic.twitter.com/8TdhCYfHsy
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) February 14, 2018
Americans like to think of their country as different from those run by military regimes. They are only fooling themselves. Ever since the federal government was converted into a national-security state after World War II (without a constitutional amendment authorizing the conversion), it has been the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA that have run the government, just like in countries governed by military dictatorships.
Oh sure, the façade is maintained – the façade that is ingrained in all of us in civics or government classes in high school and college: that the federal government is composed of three co-equal, independent branches that are in charge of the government.
But just a façade. It’s fake. It’s a lie.
It’s true that the federal government used to consist of three branches. But that quaint notion disintegrated when the federal government was converted to what is known as a “national-security state” after World War II. Even though it was done without a constitutional amendment, that conversion effectively added a fourth branch of government to the federal government — the national-security branch, which consists of the NSA, the CIA, and the Pentagon.
The addition of that fourth branch fundamentally altered the original three-branch concept, especially because the fourth branch quickly became the most powerful branch. The reason is because ultimately government is force, and the fourth branch is where the most force was concentrated within the new, altered governmental structure.
As law professor Michael Glennon has pointed out in his book National Security and Double Government, the result is a federal government in which the military, the CIA, and the NSA are in charge. They are the ones actually calling the shots. But they permit the other three branches to maintain the façade that they are in charge, including periodically going along with decisions in the other three branches to keep Americans thinking that everything is the same as it always has been.
Consider the Pentagon’s and the CIA’s torture center, prison, and kangaroo tribunal system at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They set that up with the aim of establishing a place to hold people and do whatever they wanted to them, without any judicial interference. Guantanamo was a dream-come-true for the military and the CIA. Like most conservatives, they had long lamented those “constitutional technicalities” that let people go free. If only America stopped coddling criminals, we could finally establish order and stability in our land. Guantanamo was going to be their showcase, their model for the United States and the world for dealing with criminals.
That model, as we now know, entailed kidnappings, bounties, torture, indefinite detention, no criminal defense attorneys, denial of speedy trial, kangaroo military tribunals, use of hearsay evidence, use of evidence acquired through torture, denial of due process of law, and other violations of long-established criminal-justice procedures that stretch back to Magna Carta in 1215.
Contrary to what the Pentagon and the CIA and their acolytes within the mainstream press have long maintained, terrorism is a criminal offense, not an act of war. If you don’t believe me, go look up the U.S. Code. That’s where all federal crimes are listed. You’ll see that terrorism is in fact a federal criminal offense.
Alternatively, go into any federal courtroom in the land where a federal criminal prosecution for terrorism is being held. Ask the judge why he’s hold such a trial. He will tell you that it’s because terrorism is a federal criminal offense.
The Pentagon-CIA torture-prison-tribunal center in Cuba didn’t change that fact. It simply meant that the CIA and the Pentagon were now getting into the law-enforcement business, which would enable them to punish people they were certain were guilty of terrorism.
Now, let’s turn to President Obama, the president who vowed to shut down this Pentagon-CIA model torture-prison-military tribunal facility. He made that vow at the very start of his presidency, if not before.
Obama was a two-term president. That meant 8 years in office. When Obama left office, he still had not fulfilled his vow. The Pentagon-CIA torture, indefinite detention, and kangaroo center at Guantanamo was still open. It still is.
The reaction of Obama supporters and the mainstream press? “Oh, poor President Obama. He meant well. He really wanted to shut down Guantanamo. He just wasn’t able to pull it off before his 8-year term ended.”
Hey, this guy was commander-in-chief. No, not of the American people but of the federal government’s military and para-military forces. That means that he is supposedly the head honcho. As such, he gives the orders to everyone below him. In a military structure, the superior officer gives the orders and the subordinate officers obey and carry out the orders.
That means that all that President Obama, as commander in chief, had to do was issue an order to his military subordinates: “Close it down. Now!”
But that’s not what happened. The Pentagon and the CIA obviously would not let Obama issue that order. And he understood that if he did, it was a virtual certainty that they wouldn’t have obeyed it.
Some Obama supporters say it was all Congress’s fault because Congress passed a law that forbade the president from bringing any Gitmo prisoners to the continental United States.
But Obama is president. He could have vetoed that law. And even if the veto was overridden, he didn’t have to bring any prisoners to the United States. As commander-in-chief of the military and the CIA, he could have simply said, “Close it down and release them all.”
After all, that’s how our regular constitutional system — the one whose principles the CIA and the Pentagon rejected — works. Government officials have to charge a person with a crime and try him within a reasonable period of time or they are required to release him.
The real question is: Why was Congress so intent on keeping Gitmo open, over the president’s objections? After all, keeping a U.S. kidnapping-detention-torture-kangaroo tribunal center in place in a foreign country, over the president’s vehement objections, is not the type of thing that we would ordinarily expect from the elected representatives of the American people.
There is only one explanation that makes sense: That the national-security establishment told Congress that it wanted Gitmo to be kept open. We know that the CIA has assets in the mainstream press. We know they have assets in state and local governments, including police departments. It would stand to reason they would have assets in Congress, ones that they can call upon whenever necessary to protect the interests of the Pentagon, CIA, and NSA.
And there is also the matter of military bases, programs, and projects in the district of every member of Congress. Congressmen knew what would happen to them if they bucked the Pentagon and the CIA on Guantanamo. All that the Pentagon would have to do is announce a closure of major military bases or other facilities in that Congressman’s district. Immediately, the press would denounce him as an “ineffective congressman,” one who was incapable of bringing home the political bacon to his district.
What about the Supreme Court? Early on, they rejected the Pentagon’s arguments that they had no jurisdiction over Guantanamo. The Court held it did and said that the federal courts would entertain habeas corpus cases brought by Gitmo prisoners. The Pentagon acceded to the ruling but it was all part of the façade.
After all, given that there is no constitutional authorization for the federal government to have a bifurcated judicial system — one run by the federal courts and the other run by the military — the Court should have ordered an immediate closure of the facility and a termination of the kangaroo judicial system that the Pentagon and the CIA established.
Instead, unwilling to cross any red lines when it came to the national-security branch of the government, the Supreme Court has left Gitmo standing. That’s why dozens of prisoners have been held there for more than 10 years without trial and without the hope of a trial, much less a fair one.
Look at the people who surround President Trump: U.S. “Defense” Secretary: A general. National Security Council advisor: A general. Trump’s chief of staff: a general.
Think about those flyovers and all other glorification of the military and U.S. sporting events and in U.S. airports and churches and most everywhere else. Think about how so many Americans profusely thank the troops for protecting our rights and freedoms by killing people abroad who aren’t threatening our rights and freedoms. Think about how Trump wants to have “patriotic” military parades, which would undoubtedly feature the latest missiles, rifles, tanks, and planes.
Remember President Trump before the election? He was criticizing the Pentagon’s forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East. He was criticizing NATO and the UN. He was fighting a political war against the CIA. He was all for making friends with Russia.
Today? Trump is expanding the Pentagon’s forever wars. He let the CIA continue its decades-long secrets in the JFK assassination. He’s extolling NATO. And he’s imposing sanctions on Russia. Trump has been absorbed into the national-security establishment blob.
Consider Egypt or, for that matter, Chile under Pinochet. In Egypt, the military-intelligence establishment runs the government. Same for Chile under Pinochet. America’s system is not much different, at least not in principle. The only difference is that in Egypt, the military-intelligence role is overt, just like it was in Chile. Here in the United States, the role is more disguised, with the legislative, executive, and judicial branches being permitted to have a fig leaf of ostensible control.
Welcome to America, one of the world’s premier military nations.