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Dollars

Civil forfeiture cash cow: Federal prosecutors fighting to keep cash from person never charged with a crime

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© Reuters
Federal prosecutors are battling in court to keep $167,000 in cash seized in a 2013 traffic stop, despite the motorist never being charged in the incident and the Obama administration clamped down this spring on such asset seizures and forfeitures.

The case -- which highlights the ongoing concerns about the government unjustly seizing money and property -- began when a Nevada state trooper pulled over the motorist on a cross-country trip to California.

The trooper stopped Hawaii resident Straughn Gorman's motor-home in January 2013 for allegedly going too slow along Interstate 80.

According to court documents, Gorman was allowed to proceed without a citation despite the trooper suspecting he was hiding cash.

The trooper said he couldn't inspect the vehicle because he would have needed a canine unit and for the dog to detect drugs, which would have created enough probable cause to get a search warrant.

Comment: It seems pretty obvious in this case. The government wants to retain the ability to take anyone's money if they so decide. They aren't interested in guilt or innocence. It's hard to see a difference between what they are doing and what a criminal racket does. See also:


Bomb

Saakashvili warns Odessa may soon break away from Ukraine

© Sputnik/ Nikolay Lazarenko
Mikheil Saakashvili warned that the Donbass scenario is possible for Odessa due to the social and political instability in the Ukrainian Bessarabia Region.

Odessa may withdraw from Ukraine since it has enough reasons for such a decision, Odessa Governor Mikheil Saakashvili said.

The governor believes that the region may see a repeat of the Donbass scenario. The assumption was made by Saakashvili after having examined the instability in the Ukrainian Bessarabia.

"The Bessarabia Region is instable. Speculations on the dangerous political and social situation are possible there. What happened in Donbass is being repeated there. The Ukrainian government is poorly presented, with practically no support from Ukrainian media," the governor said.

In 2014, Saakashvili predicted Crimea's withdrawal from Ukraine and made an announcement on the issue.

Comment: Was this Saakashvili's mission in Odessa? This will certainly complicate things and broaden the conflict in war torn Ukraine.


USA

Sheep led to the slaughter: The muzzling of free speech in America

"If the freedom of speech be taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter."— George Washington
© Rutherford Org
Sheep Led to the Slaughter.
The architects of the American police state must think we're idiots.

With every passing day, we're being moved further down the road towards a totalitarian society characterized by government censorship, violence, corruption, hypocrisy and intolerance, all packaged for our supposed benefit in the Orwellian doublespeak of national security, tolerance and so-called "government speech."

Long gone are the days when advocates of free speech could prevail in a case such as Tinker v. Des Moines. Indeed, it's been 50 years since 13-year-old Mary Beth Tinker was suspended for wearing a black armband to school in protest of the Vietnam War. In taking up her case, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that students do not "shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

Were Tinker to make its way through the courts today, it would have to overcome the many hurdles being placed in the path of those attempting to voice sentiments that may be construed as unpopular, offensive, conspiratorial, violent, threatening or anti-government.

Consider, if you will, that the U.S. Supreme Court, historically a champion of the First Amendment, has declared that citizens can exercise their right to free speech everywhere it's lawful—online, in social media, on a public sidewalk, etc.—as long as they don't do so in front of the Court itself.

What is the rationale for upholding this ban on expressive activity on the Supreme Court plaza?

"Allowing demonstrations directed at the Court, on the Court's own front terrace, would tend to yield the...impression...of a Court engaged with — and potentially vulnerable to — outside entreaties by the public."

Translation: The appellate court that issued that particular ruling in Hodge v. Talkin actually wants us to believe that the Court is so impressionable that the justices could be swayed by the sight of a single man, civil rights activist Harold Hodge, standing alone and silent in the snow in a 20,000 square-foot space in front of the Supreme Court building wearing a small sign protesting the toll the police state is taking on the lives of black and Hispanic Americans.

My friends, we're being played for fools.

The Supreme Court is not going to be swayed by you or me or Harold Hodge.

War Whore

Tax dollars at work: Pentagon shrugs off $25 billion discrepancy in costs of new bomber

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© AFP
Very little is known about the US Air Force's new long-range strike bomber (LRSB) - including, apparently, the cost. Facing questions over a $25 billion discrepancy in development costs, the Pentagon blamed "human error" and shrugged it off as a "mistake."

The LRSB project is intended to replace the aging and expensive US bomber fleet by the mid-2020s, at the cost of $500 million per plane. Two aerospace conglomerates, Northrop Grumman and Boeing-Lockheed Martin, are bidding for the contract.

Last year, the Air Force told Congress that the 10-year cost of developing the bomber, between 2015 and 2024, would be $33.1 billion. This year, however, the estimate for 2016-2026 rose to $58.2 billion. The 76 percent increase prompted Representative Jackie Speier (D-California), ranking minority member on the House Armed Services oversight and investigations subcommittee, to ask about the $25 billion gap.

"This sudden 76 percent increase in estimated cost is alarming, because it raises questions about the management of a crucial program that lacks transparency, on which we cannot afford serious cost overruns, development errors, and reduced production numbers that would deprive the United States of one of its core military capabilities," wrote Speier.

Light Saber

Russia and China agree on joint funding for high-speed rail line from Moscow to Kazan

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© Alexei Danichev / RIA Novosti
Russia expects the new route to be open in 2020, becoming a role model of Russian-Chinese transport and infrastructure cooperation, said Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"We have already agreed on the parameters of joint funding for the construction of a high-speed route between Moscow and Kazan, and the amount of investment to be provided by our Chinese partners and us will exceed 1 trillion rubles," he said in an interview to TASS and Xinhua on Tuesday.

The 770 km track will stretch through seven regions of Russia. It will have 15 stops, including Vladimir, Nizhny Novgorod, Cheboksary and Kazan. The journey from Moscow to Kazan, currently a 12-hour trip, is to be reduced to 3.5 hours.


Megaphone

Russian military source dismisses reports in Western media of Russian combat aircraft sent to Syria

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© Alaa Al-Faqir / Reuters
Syria, democratized by Amerika
No Russian jets were deployed to Syria in order to launch attacks against Islamic State militants (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL) and Syrian rebels, a military source told RT, dismissing reports in Israeli media.

"There has been no redeployment of Russian combat aircraft to the Syrian Arab Republic," the source told RT on Tuesday. "The Russian Air Force is at its permanent bases and carrying out normal troop training and combat duty."

On Monday, the Israeli news site Ynet News cited Western diplomats as saying that a Russian "expeditionary force" has arrived in Syria to set up camp at a government airbase near Damascus in order to lead an offensive against IS militants and rebel-aligned targets.

The report added that "thousands of Russian military personnel are set to touch down in Syria, including advisers, instructors, logistics personnel, technical personnel, members of the aerial protection division, and pilots who will operate the aircraft."

Comment: Here's the Ynet report by Fishman.

See also: Russian boots on the ground in Syria? Middle East mayhem intensifies


Bulb

Putin drafts bill to dump dollar from use within Commonwealth of Independent States

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© Alexei Druzhinin / RIA Novosti
Russian President Vladimir Putin has drafted a bill that aims to eliminate the US dollar and the euro from trade between CIS countries.

This means the creation of a single financial market between Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and other countries of the former Soviet Union.

"This would help expand the use of national currencies in foreign trade payments and financial services and thus create preconditions for greater liquidity of domestic currency markets", said a statement from Kremlin.

The bill would also help to facilitate trade in the region and help to achieve macro-economic stability.

Quenelle

Rumors aside, there are many reasons why a post-sanctions Iran won't betray Russia

© Sipa/AP
Some speculation is weaving through the airwaves that once its US-imposed sanctions are lifted in several months, Iran will shift its existing allegiance with Russia and instead double-cross the Great Russian Bear by doing gas and oil export deals that directly undercut Russia, especially Gazprom's Turkish Stream gas pipeline aimed at the southern EU states. Were that to occur, perhaps at the same time a Pentagon and CIA backed rearming of the Ukrainian army and supply of massive heavy artillery to launch a far more effective military assault on the eastern Ukraine self-proclaimed republics, the Washington calculation would be a devastating blow to Putin and Russia's economic stability. No matter what dreams may be floating around the Pentagon however, for many reasons an Iranian double-cross is highly unlikely.

Consequences

First it's useful to ask the hypothetical question were Iran to visibly and massively double-cross Russia, what would be the consequences for Teheran? No doubt one or another Iranian politician or businessman has fantasized about the vast riches that will come from the USA and EU once the de facto 36 year state of war with America and Washington's severe economic sanctions are lifted. Business delegations from several European countries have already been in Teheran talking turkey, that is to say potential huge investment in rebuilding Iran's rundown oil sector and other potential projects.

Comment: The Zionist-Washington axis would no doubt love it if Iran were to shoot itself in the foot and leave Russia to the wolves. As Engdhal points out, it seems highly unlikely, since Iran is fully aware of the real terrorists it has been dealing with.


Quenelle - Golden

Putin: Russia-China ties reach historic levels, hold 'common responsibility for the fate of the world'

© AFP 2015/ KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV
Moscow and Beijing have common economic development targets, a shared view on the history of World War II and a joint responsibility for ensuring global stability, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a written interview with the Russian state news agency TASS and China's Xinhua news agency.

President Putin will visit China on September 2-3 to take part in events dedicated to the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II and to discuss bilateral cooperation with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

According to the president's aide, Yuri Ushakov, about 30 bilateral documents are scheduled to be signed in Beijing during the president's official visit.

Comment: And Putin isn't just talking the talk - Russia and China are actively thwarting the West's global stranglehold, through every means available:


Bad Guys

Armored vehicles to patrol Kiev to prevent new riots

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© Sputnik / Stringer
Police in the Ukrainian capital will deploy armored vehicles to patrol the center of the city following Monday's violent riots, an adviser to the interior minister said Tuesday.

According to Ivan Varchenko, downtown Kiev will be patrolled by KaAZ and Cougar vehicles, reinforced police units and 2,200 soldiers from the National Guard and volunteer battalions.

Violent clashes between police and protesters on Monday outside the Ukrainian parliament, Verkhovna Rada, killed at least three and injured over 140 people, mostly policemen and National Guard soldiers.

Comment: Poroshenko cannot control situation in Kiev