Sunday, February 03, 2019

Heavy-handed

There's some extra-sweet 'journalism' being committed these days.

Tweet (Asa Winstanley):
"Pathetic. This is seriously the best Yankee coup’s propaganda can come up with?! There’s bearly hundreds in this video, let alone “thousands”."
Tweet (Ben Norton):
"Hilarious. AFP, which is helping to sell the US-led rightwing coup in Venezuela, falsely said "thousands" "poured onto the streets" while its own video shows a few hundred people standing around (likely upper-class elites) Embarrassingly absurd propaganda"
 Tweet (Aline Piva):
"You won't see this on CNN, but this is today: thousands marching in support of the democratically elected gvt of "
Tweet (Dan Cohen) (81% for Guido!):
"The owner of the consultancy firm that produced the figure Bolton cited is openly pro-Guaidó. Sounds legit. "
"‘Opportunistic, xenophobic’: WikiLeaks mocks Rachel Maddow’s latest Russia scare story" (see also).  Maddow is consistently, and spectacularly, bad.

So this INF pullout by Trump is genuinely Dumb and Evil, but he gets away with it as so many things he does which aren't Dumb and Evil are so described by the Clintonistas (who also shut up because, hey, they want nuclear war too) - tweets (Tom Nichols):
"Okay, everyone, I'm going to explain why the INF Treaty even existed and why it's an idiotic move to dump it and think we can replicate our success against the USSR in the 1980s all over again. Mute or turn off notifications if you don't want this mini-lecture. /1"
"Is the collusion theory dead?" (Turley):
"“Whom did Donald Trump Jr. speak to on his phone in between calls setting up the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Russians?” That is the question the New York Times asked about “one of the more tantalizing mysteries of the whole Russia affair” in a glossy report on the campaign.
Hundreds of stories referenced the “blocked numbers” and speculated that those belonged to President Trump, who wanted an update on collusion efforts from his son. Last year, when asked by Wolf Blitzer of CNN if he was confirming that Trump Jr. phoned his father, House Intelligence Committee member Andre Carson simply said, “Stay tuned.” So we did, until this week, when it was revealed that Trump Jr. apparently phoned two business associates. The mystery over the blocked calls follows a series of overhyped collusion points that failed to pan out."
and (my emphasis in red):
"What is uniformly missing from the cottage industry of collusion theories is an acknowledgment of the threshold requirements of an actual crime. There is no crime in “colluding” with Russians without some cognizable criminal act or conspiracy to commit such an act. While some have dangerously stretched the criminal code to incriminate Trump, the most obvious viable and crime remains hacking into the email systems of the Democrats.

Mueller has thoroughly identified and detailed the Russian hacking and trolling operations to influence the 2016 election. Yet, these filings notably lack any link to the Trump campaign, let alone advance knowledge or support for the Russian operation. Indeed, key links have become even more implausible as part of a conspiracy with Russian intelligence.

First, there is the question of why Russian intelligence would tell the notoriously unpredictable and impulsive Donald Trump about one of its riskiest international operations in decades. Russian spymasters are not known for putting entire operations, or the future of Russian foreign relations for that matter, just one tweet away from utter destruction.

Second, there is the curious pattern of Trump officials trying to find contacts at WikiLeaks to obtain the Hillary Clinton emails. If there was such collusion, why were Trump associates like Roger Stone or Alexander Nix, who led consulting company Cambridge Analytica that worked for the Trump campaign, seeking contacts with access to the information?


Third, even Trump associates like Michael Cohen, who actively sought contacts with Russians about business in Moscow, also seemed to get nowhere. Indeed, Cohen had to try to contact aides to Vladimir Putin through public mailboxes on the internet. Like the Trump Tower meeting, the efforts made by Cohen during the campaign had failed miserably.

The public record reveals more confusion than collusion in the Trump campaign. If this was a grand conspiracy, there is a paucity of American conspirators and a plethora of clueless associates searching for access to WikiLeaks material. Indeed, in his indictments of various Russians, Mueller expressly said that any contact with them was unwitting, which happened also to be point emphasized by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

This all brings us to some type of “post hoc” conspiracy, or in this case, “post hack” conspiracy. The problem with this theory is that it is not a crime to seek access to material from organizations like WikiLeaks or other whistleblowers. If it were a crime, then journalists, campaigns, and public interest groups would be subject to regular criminal prosecution.

Indeed, the Clinton campaign spent massive amounts of money to fund the work of former British spy Christopher Steele and opposition research firm Fusion GPS to seek dirt on Trump from foreign sources, including Russian intelligence. The Clinton campaign then repeatedly denied its connection to that opposition research, until after the election when reporters found evidence that it hid its funding as legal expenses. Was that some crime of collusion or conspiracy before or after the fact? No. Likewise, it did not become a crime when Fusion GPS officials refused to testify before Congress, invoking the privilege against self incrimination."
"What if the FBI Had Probed Obama?" (Lee Smith).

"CIA in Venezuela: 7 Rules for Regime Change" (Morley). If you give the popular government you are trying to overthrow enough of a head's up that they can muster its resources, and counter your traitors, you've already lost, which is what we're seeing with Guido:  "Time is Running Out to Oust Maduro" (Luongo).

"Trump’s Coup in Venezuela: The Full Story" (Draitser) (my emphasis in red- see also Korybko):
"In fact, the fixation on Venezuela’s oil is only part of the story. The real story is the politics, and geopolitics, behind control over the oil. Put simply, control of Venezuelan oil is part of the broader international conflict with Russia, and perhaps to a lesser degree China.
In 2016, as Venezuela’s economy was in freefall due in no small part to the historic lows in oil price ($35 per barrel in January 2016), the Maduro government took the controversial decision to stake 49.9% of its ownership in PDVSA’s US subsidiary, Citgo, to the Russian state oil company Rosneft in exchange for a $1.5 billion loan. In essence, the Kremlin gave Caracas a very temporary bailout with major strings attached. With this move, the Russians effectively became part owners of Venezuela’s primary asset.
But Russia, being one of the world’s leading oil producers itself, surely had little interest in the oil per se. After all, Russian energy exports remain dominant in Europe, with expanding operations in Asia. Instead, Venezuelan oil was to be a potent lever against the US at precisely the moment the US was applying political and economic pressure on Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine, among other things. It should be remembered that the Obama Administration had imposed sanctions against Moscow in March 2014 over the Russian annexation of Crimea, and later involvement in the civil war in Eastern Ukraine.
With the US and European sanctions, some of which targeted Russia’s oil industry, the Kremlin was desperate for strategies to leverage against the US both to extract a cost for the sanctions, but perhaps more importantly for potential future negotiations. Putin & Co. settled on, at least in part, Venezuela’s oil sector. By providing what amounted to a relatively small loan of $1.5 billion, Russia immediately became a dominant player in Venezuela’s oil, thereby becoming a power player with Washington’s political and economic strategy.
And indeed this strategy, or at least recognition of it, was confirmed by powerful US interests in early 2018 when a still shadowy group of US investors made a move to try to purchase the Russian stake in Citgo.
Essentially, the plan, which was revealed to Reuters by an anonymous investor who is part of the group, called for the investors to pay off Venezuela’s outstanding loan balance and then require Rosneft to terminate its lien and transfer the loan to new investors. As the investor told Reuters:

“The [Trump] administration should recognize that if it doesn’t do something pro-active here, it will face…limited options under almost any scenario, whether it is an attempt to foreclose by the current lienholder, further restrictions on Venezuelan crude oil imports into the U.S., or even in the event there is a positive political change in Caracas… This is a private sector solution to a public policy problem.”
It doesn’t get much clearer than that. US elites clearly felt that Russia’s foray into Venezuela’s oil sector was a strategic calculation designed to counteract US political and economic moves against Russia. Moreover, it seems obvious that there is/was a lack of faith on the part of segments of the ruling class that the Trump Administration would actively block Russia’s geostrategic maneuvers effectively, hence the need for a “private sector” solution."
"Canada's Left Party Blinks at US-led Coup in Venezuela" (Engler):
"While many of the party’s activists are probably confused by the leadership’s indifference to Canada’s push for a coup/invasion, NDP foreign-policy is run by a former Canadian diplomat who has aligned herself with Venezuela’s far right. A year ago I published an article in the Canadian Dimension titled “Has it become NDP policy to support US-backed coups in Latin America?” Among numerous criticisms of Venezuela’s government, foreign affairs critic Hélène Laverdière called the vice-president “a drug lord” from whom “the American government has seized billions of dollars of his assets for drug trafficking.” Laverdière should have been removed as foreign critic the day after repeating this obviously absurd claim from Venezuela’s lunatic far right. (In what may be the first ever resolution to an NDP convention calling for the removal of a party critic, the NDP Socialist Caucus submitted a motion to last February’s convention titled “Hands Off Venezuela, Remove Hélène Laverdière as NDP Foreign Affairs Critic.”)"
Tweet (trappedinawrpool) (replies include:  " Israel" and "I'm not sure where there is daylight even on pipelines and climate change. As far as I can tell Trudeau is Harper with a nice haircut.")
"There is absolutely no daylight between Harper and Trudeau on two important issues Corporate sovereignty and regime change"
Trudeau is heading right for the same problem Clinton had, that if you run on the 'left' with policies that are consistently indistinguishable from the extreme right (except for a thin veneer of identity politics, which in fact makes things even worse as ministers who fear they are in place only because of their identities lack the confidence to rock the boat and raise good policy objections to obvious madness), voters won't be motivated to vote for you, won't vote at all, and you'll lose due the enthusiasm gap.  A number of factors have suddenly come together to reveal Trudeau for what he really is, and it ain't pretty.

Tweets (Max Blumenthal):
"Last September, gave a wide-ranging and candid interview to , covering everything from foreign policy to the drug war. Thread of highlights starts here with her comments providing critical context on North Korea and Kim's behavior "
Ha!:  "Where Are Democratic 2020 Hopefuls on the Trump-Backed Coup Attempt in Venezuela?" (Cartolano).

Ha!:  "Roger Stone’s Arrest Was Appropriate, Not Heavy-Handed" (Rosenberg).

Paying for bodies to show up at your phony protests is so common we always have to assume it is occurring: "Anti-Qatar protesters in New York were paid: report".

"Report: Saudi Arabia Has Systematically Helped Saudi Felons To Flee The United States" (Turley).  Remember the fun case from Canada?:  "Canada: Saudi accused of sexual assault disappears before trial" ("despite the fact that we boosted so much money to that island of Canada.").

"Latuff Makes Israeli Headlines" (DesertPeace).

Tweet (Rania Khalek):
"Those smearing me got my page locked so that the smears stay put, which now appear at the bottom of my page. What a headache. This was provoked by my video on the coup in Venezuela. When you piss off the regime changers, they resort to smears & Wikipedia lets it happen"
"Ro Khanna’s Case for Restraint and Peace" (Larison).  He should be Gabbard's VP.

"New York police fighting judge's order to release 911 tapes in serial killer case" (Winter/Shapiro).  Some believe the perp is LE, and the police are trying to cover it up, as they do.

"Mystery at the Oslo Plaza" (Wegner).  Explore the room.  "Jennifer Fergate: An unidentified, elegant young woman was found shot 22 years ago in Oslo, Norway".  "Update in the case of mysterious death at Oslo plaza".  There are similarities to the Tamam Shud case.
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