Wednesday, April 17, 2019

For now

"Chelsea and Julian are in Jail. History Trembles." (Murray):
"One key fact gave away Snow’s enormous prejudice. Julian Assange said nothing during the whole brief proceedings, other than to say “Not guilty” twice, and to ask a one sentence question about why the charges were changed midway through this sham “trial”. Yet Judge Michael Snow condemned Assange as “narcissistic”. There was nothing that happened in Snow’s brief court hearing that could conceivably have given rise to that opinion. It was plainly something he brought with him into the courtroom, and had read or heard in the mainstream media or picked up in his club. It was in short the very definition of prejudice, and “Judge” Michael Snow and his summary judgement is a total disgrace."
Once he gets the full 'fairness' of the British legal system, Julian can expect the 'fairness' of the American hanging judge who somehow has a monopoly on serving as the tool of the American IC in this kind of stitch-up:  "EXTRADITION: ‘The Railroad That Awaits Julian Assange’" (Kiriakou) (my emphasis in red):
"No matter what happens, no matter what the charges, Julian cannot and will not get a fair trial in the Eastern District of Virginia.
The Eastern District of Virginia is known as the “Espionage Court” for a reason. No national security defendant has ever won a case there. Never. And Judge Leonie Brinkema reserves all national security cases for herself. She has Julian’s case, she judged my case, as well as the case of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling, and we know that she has also reserved what will be the Ed Snowden case for herself.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll tell you about what I went through in Judge Brinkema’s courtroom. None of it was good. And Julian should expect exactly the same.
When I was arrested after blowing the whistle on the CIA’s torture program, I was charged with five felonies – three counts of espionage, one count of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1981, and one count of making a false statement. Of course, I hadn’t committed espionage, nor had I made any false statement. (I’m still not exactly sure what the false statement was supposed to have been.) But those charges were used as leverage to eventually force me to take a plea. When I said that I wasn’t interested in a plea and that I wanted to go to trial, the prosecutors threatened to add a second false statements charge and a charge of obstruction of justice – two throwaway felonies that could be used as additional leverage. I told them to bring it on, but they never did add those charges.
The government will invoke something in Julian’s case called CIPA – the Classified Information Protection Act. That means that the court must do everything possible to “protect” classified information from being revealed, even to the jury. The first thing that’s done in a CIPA trial is that the courtroom is sealed. The only people allowed inside are the defendant and the defendant’s attorneys, the prosecutors, the bailiff, the clerk, and the judge. The jury also would be there in the event of a jury trial, but it gets a little more complicated in that case. The bailiff will lock the courtroom doors and put tape around them, and he’ll cover the windows with plastic or canvas, all so that nobody outside can hear anything.

If there’s a jury trial, the judge will insist that “classified” words or phrases not be uttered, but instead must be replaced by unclassified words. For example, “Did you hack into NSA’s computers and download documents from Operation Widget?” becomes “Did you hack into Castle’s computers and download documents from Operation Pilates?” It sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Well, it is ridiculous. More importantly, it’s very confusing for jurors, many of whom may conclude, “Wow, there are so many classified words that are being discussed! He must be guilty!”
Julian’s attorneys also will make a number of motions, both for discovery and for the declassification of documents necessary for his defense. Judge Brinkema is unlikely to approve any of them. Again, in my case, my attorneys made 70 motions to declassify 70 separate classified documents necessary for my defense. We blocked off two full days for the hearings, as did the prosecutors. But when we got to the courtroom, Judge Brinkema began by saying, “I’m going to make this easy for everyone. I’m going to deny all 70 of these motions.” Her thinking was that I either did it (committed a crime) or I didn’t. There was no reason to “jeopardize national security” if she was going to eventually convict me anyway. So my attorneys had literally nothing to present in my defense.
We didn’t roll over, of course. My attorneys objected and were overruled. The prosecution then asked for an in-camera conversation with the judge. That’s a private conversation between the judge and the prosecutors without my attorneys present. My attorneys objected strenuously. The judge overruled them again and she went into chambers with prosecutors. As crazily unconstitutional as this may sound, it is permitted in a national security case. To this day I have no idea what was said in that room. But when she came out, the judge looked at my attorneys and reiterated her decision to overrule the objection. And then, much to my shock, she looked at me and said, “This case better not go to trial.” The hearing ended. It had begun only 15 minutes earlier.
As we walked out of the courtroom, I asked my attorneys, “What just happened in there?” “We just lost the case,” was the response. “What do we do now?” I asked. “Now we take a plea.” A week later I changed my plea to “guilty.” The government had come down from an offer of 10 years to one of two-and-a-half. I would do 23 months. My attorneys thought that if I had gone to trial, I would have lost and I would have realistically gotten 12-18 years. I had no choice.
At sentencing, the judge said that she was glad the case hadn’t gone to trial. She didn’t want “more classified information out there in the public domain.” But then she said, “I don’t like this deal. I don’t like it at all. If I could, Mr. Kiriakou, I would give you 10 years. But my hands are tied.” I left for federal prison six weeks later."

When you've lost Haim . . . :  "The U.S. Case Against Assange Is Looking Sort of Flimsy"(Cameron).  Of course, the terms of the indictment are just to get by the crooked British judiciary.  When the Assholians get custody of him the real, espionage, charges will suddenly appear.

"MIGA: Trump Vetoes Yemen Resolution" (Wallace). "Trump Issues His Second Veto, Blocking Congressional Resolution To End US Support For Saudi-Led War In Yemen" (Durden).  "Secret Report Reveals Saudi Incompetence and Widespread Use of U.S. Weapons in Yemen" (Emmons).

"Saudi Arabia Bankrolling Haftar's Bid To Seize All Of Libya" (Durden).  Diplomatic genius John Bolton has now lost Egypt, which you would think would be almost impossible to do:  "Is The US Losing Influence In The World's Biggest Oil Region?" (Copley).

"Israeli army destroys video after settlers execute Palestinian" (Murphy).  Remind me again why these wonderful and nice people keep getting into trouble.

"After Notre Dame fire, leading Israeli rabbi says ‘There is no mitzvah to [burn down] churches abroad. In our holy land, however, the issue is more complicated’" (Gurvitz):
"Today, after the fire in Notre Dame Cathedral, Aviner was asked the following question:
“The great Christian Church in Paris is on fire. Should we feel sorry for that, or should we rejoice, as it [the cathedral] is idolatry, which is a mitzvah to burn?”
The questioner is here referring to the Halachic ruling that churches are considered idolatry, and should be destroyed.
Aviner replied as follows:
“This isn’t our job for now. There is no mitzvah to seek out churches abroad and burn them down. In our holy land, however, the issue is more complicated. Indeed, the Satmar Rabbi noted one of his arguments against immigrating to Israel, that here it is indeed a mitzvah to burn churches; and by not doing so, those [immigrating to Israel] are committing a sin. Yet Rabbi Menachem Mendel Kasher, in his book ‘The Great Period’, rejected the Satmar Rabbi’s words, citing a midrash, forbidding burning [churches], since if we burn, we’ll have to rebuild, and it’s a greater sin to rebuild [a church] than leave it standing. [Here Aviner cites his own book vs. the Satmar Rabbi] That church in Paris, too, will surely be rebuilt.”
(Oh, yes: American Jewish readers, I probably need to stress this – this is not a parody or a satire. This is actual rabbinical discourse in 2019 Israel.)"
Tweet (Barrett Brown) (Matthew Cole is the CHO, Chief Honeypot Officer):
"Tonight is holding a self-congratulatory party in Brooklyn to commemorate 5 years of whatever. Meanwhile I’ll burn the National Magazine Award I won for them and read excerpts from leaked correspondence on their recent closure of Snowden archive via livestream"
"Annexation of West Bank May Provide Key to Unlocking Netanyahu’s Legal Troubles" (Cook):
"The other option is to arm-twist his coalition partners into agreeing a retroactive immunity law making it impossible for prosecutors to indict the prime minister while in office. Some of his coalition partners are already on board.

How he might achieve this feat is through an “annexation for immunity” deal. In other words, Netanyahu gives the far-right and the settlers what they want – annexation of parts or all of the West Bank – and in return, they back immunity legislation.

That was why Netanyahu made an unexpected statement in favour of annexation shortly before polling.

Asked about the pressure for annexation from his coalition partners, he told the media: “We will move to the next stage. I am going to extend [Israeli] sovereignty and I don’t distinguish between settlement blocs and the isolated settlements.”"
"Arab Spring and geopolitics of Sudan" (Bhadrakumar):
"So far, things have gone relatively well in Sudan. However, make no mistake that the worst may be still to come . The fact of the matter is that the regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE genuinely fear that if the revolution succeeds in Sudan, there could be a domino effect, which may threaten their own autocratic regimes.

Equally, from the geopolitical perspective, the autocratic regimes in the southern tier (plus Israel and the US) would fear that Algeria and Sudan — especially the latter — might incrementally edge closer to the northern tier countries (read Turkey and Iran) in the current line-up in Muslim Middle East, which of course would impact the overall regional balance.

Paradoxically, from the perspective of the ‘triple containment’ strategy that is being pursued against Turkey, Iran and Qatar regionally by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt — and in the interests of Israel’s security — it is critically important that a strategically located southern tier country such as Sudan, which  sits astride the Red Sea connecting the Suez Canal  remains a protectorate under the rule of a dependable strongmen and stays that way for the foreseeable future."
Tweet (Matt Duss) (fair enough, but Duss is responsible for Bernie's appalling foreign policy positions):
"Imagine giving a shit what these two guys think Democrats should do."
Tweet (TheLastRefuge):
"Most of America have no idea how bad the Obama-era political surveillance and intelligence weaponization actually was. It is darn close to unfathomable political activity... Thank you to for doggedly keeping focus on origin. "
"Only a heckler can improve an evening with the money-grabbing Clintons" (Callahan):
"Coverage of this snoozefest was typically respectful and anodyne, yet the most exciting moment of the night made little if any news. Not quite halfway through the event, a man in the front row stood up and interrupted.

“Bill, this is boring!” he yelled. As he tried asking his question — “Why don’t you talk about — ” Hillary immediately began talking over him, saying that the “important political conversations” they were trying to have could be difficult, especially when interrupted by such “agent provocateurs.”

“Jeffrey Epstein!” shouted the man.

Oh, the irony.

The heckler was, of course, swiftly hauled away, and the conversation returned to Bill talking about the good old days when he was president, telling such surely apocryphal tales as bringing together two veterans, each missing one leg, and a “formidable” overweight black lesbian activist — the veterans later telling Bill, with tears in their eyes, that they had more in common with this woman than they ever would have thought."
"Former AIPAC President Endorses Pete Buttigieg Read" (Kampeas). The (((media))) is giving this very unlikely candidate quite the push.

"Trump’s sister quietly retired in February, and it’s actually a really big deal" (Yglesias):
"The retirement of a federal appeals court judge is normally not a huge national news story, and while the fact that Maryanne Trump Barry is the sister of the president of the United States makes her decision a bit more noteworthy, on its face, you can still see why it’s been treated as relatively minor news.
But peer a little bit deeper and the reason Barry is stepping down makes it clear that the story is a very big deal indeed.
The key is that last fall, the New York Times published a bombshell investigation of Donald and Maryanne Trump’s father Fred Trump’s finances that appeared to reveal, among other things, that he illegally evaded taxes in transferring much of his wealth to his children — including both Donald and Maryanne.
All this happened a long time ago, and the statute of limitations would have expired on any possible crimes. But some shrewd people noted that there is no statute of limitations on judicial ethics investigations and filed a complaint against not Donald Trump but Maryanne. This would have launched an investigation of her that would, were she found guilty of wrongdoing, have implicated the president as well.
Now, according to Russ Buettner and Susan Craig of the New York Times, Barry has retired, which renders the investigation moot. Their reporting indicates that this all actually happened in February. The complaint was filed in October, and then on February 1, a court official notified the people who filed the complaint that it was “receiving the full attention” of investigators. Ten days later, Barry filed her paperwork to resign.
And it certainly raises questions of whether she and her brother might have something to hide.
A lot of what the Trump family did to pass on wealth tax-free to the next generations falls pretty clearly under the heading of “the real scandal is what’s legal.” But some of the Trump family shenanigans uncovered by the Times have a look of actual criminality to them.
The most striking of these, to my eye, began in 1992. The Trump kids, including Donald and Maryanne, were set up as the owners of a company called All County Building Supply & Maintenance. All County then sold boilers, refrigerators, cleaning supplies, and other equipment at unusually high prices to buildings owned by Fred Trump. On its face, this looks a lot like an illegal effort to evade gift and estate tax by masking it as a business transaction. What’s more, Fred Trump then compounded the offense because the buildings in question were rent-regulated and he cited the high prices paid as legal justification for rent increases.
This is one of several schemes the court ethics panel was in a position to look at, but now the investigation is off."
"VIDEO: How the Pentagon and CIA Push Venezuela Regime-Change Propaganda in Video Games" (Blumenthal/Norton).
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