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Sat, 19 Jan 2019
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The Pentagon's massive accounting boondoggle exposed

The Pentagon building in Washington, DC
© Agence France-Presse
How US military spending keeps rising even as the Pentagon flunks its audit.

On November 15, Ernst & Young and other private firms that were hired to audit the Pentagon announced that they could not complete the job. Congress had ordered an independent audit of the Department of Defense, the government's largest discretionary cost center - the Pentagon receives 54 cents out of every dollar in federal appropriations - after the Pentagon failed for decades to audit itself. The firms concluded, however, that the DoD's financial records were riddled with so many bookkeeping deficiencies, irregularities, and errors that a reliable audit was simply impossible.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan tried to put the best face on things, telling reporters, "We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it." Shanahan suggested that the DoD should get credit for attempting an audit, saying, "It was an audit on a $2.7 trillion organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial." The truth, though, is that the DoD was dragged kicking and screaming to this audit by bipartisan frustration in Congress, and the result, had this been a major corporation, likely would have been a crashed stock.



Ding-dong, another witch is dead: Deep State bagman George Bush Sr. finally croaks

Comment: First McCain, and now Daddy Bush. Not a bad end to the year.

Cue another round of gushing obituaries for another powerful crook...

bush senior cheney

The Endless War of the Endless Terror of the Endless Bush Regime... has finally come to an end
Former US President George H.W. Bush, credited for helping to end the Cold War, passed away on Friday at the age of 94, a family spokesperson confirmed. Bush governed the nation from 1989 to 1993.

The 41st president died at 10:10pm (local time) on Friday. Funeral arrangements will be announced some time later, the spokesperson for the Bush family, Jim McGrath, said in a statement.

His health deteriorated in recent years, as he suffered from lower-body Parkinson's disease and was confined to a wheelchair. In April, Bush was discharged from a hospital after receiving treatment for low blood pressure.

Former US leader as well, George W. Bush, called his late father "a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for."

Current President Donald Trump praised Bush for his "essential authenticity" and "disarming wit." His "unflappable leadership" brought the US and the world "to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War," Trump said.

Comment: Sarah McLendon, a Texas journalist, asked Daddy Bush in 1992:
"What will the people do if they ever find out the truth about Iraq-gate and Iran-Contra?"
His answer:
"Sarah, if the American people ever find out what we have done, they would chase us down the street and lynch us."
Iraq-gate was the exposure of US-UK weapons sales to Saddam right up until invading his country the first time around. Iran-Contra was the covert sales of weapons to the other side in that war. Both were arranged - or signed off - by the CIA's man in the White House; VP, later president, George HW Bush.

The Iran-Iraq War, Iraq-gate, Iran-Contra, the first invasion of Iraq, anti-Iraq sanctions, the second invasion of Iraq, anti-Iran sanctions, and ISIS... all share the same underlying strategic rationale, greatly facilitated, if not publicly articulated, by Bush Sr.:

"If we (America) can't have it (domination of world energy markets), they (the Russians and the Chinese) can't either."

Bush Sr. was an oil man from the time he graduated Yale (and Skull 'n' Bones), and it's interesting that he was in Florida running an oil operation while being an errand boy for the CIA's Cuban 'rebels', right around the time of their involvement in the JFK assassination. The last co-conspirator of that crime may have died today...

See also: Dark Legacy Documentary: Bush Senior was Central Figure in Plot to Kill JFK


Britain has been at war continuously for 104 years

british malay beheading

British special forces behead Malay villagers while 'spreading democracy' in the 1950s
War-weariness among the public and wariness among politicians mean next year could be the first since at least 1914 that British soldiers, sailors and air crews are not engaged in fighting

When British forces pull down the union jack for the last time in Afghanistan this year, it will be a hugely symbolic moment. It is not just that the departure marks the end of 13 years of British involvement in combat in that troubled country. The surprise is that it could also signal the end of a century or more of unbroken warfare by British forces.

Comment: It didn't. 'ISIS' suddenly arrived on the scene in Syria, then Iraq, and British soldiers were back in 'expeditionary' mode...

Next year may be the first since at least 1914 that British soldiers, sailors and air crews will not be engaged in fighting somewhere - the first time Britain is totally at peace with the rest of the world.

Since Britain's declaration of war against Germany in August 1914, not a year has passed without its forces being involved in conflict. It is a statistic that has been largely overlooked, and not one about which the government is likely to boast.

Comment: Indeed. In the entire time since then the whole world has been daily informed (largely through anglophone media) about these dictators and those tyrants, but the backdrop - British and American warmongering - is so ubiquitous and monotonous that it's like white noise, or wallpaper no one notices.

The past 100 years have seen two world wars, large-scale conflicts in Korea and Iraq, and small-scale actions in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. There have been punitive operations in defence of empire, cold war operations, post-9/11 support for the US, and the Troubles in Ireland.

Comment: 'War-weariness' is not a problem for the British elites: they can rely on media creating fictitious enemies (the Russians, currently).

Heart - Black

Former Greek foreign minister: 'Diplomats are issuing visas to unaccompanied children so their organs can be harvested'

Nikos Kotzias
© Dimitrios Karvountzis/ZUMAPRESS.com
Former Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias during his speech
Diplomats from Greece have been blasted as "traitors" by the country's former foreign minister, after he shockingly repeated allegations that visas were issued "to unaccompanied children to illegally traffic their organs".

Nikos Kotzias, who resigned last month in a row over Macedonia's name, damningly said last week - and for the second time - that some 93 cases had been sent for prosecution, with a string of "highly respected ambassadors" already behind bars.

"Do you know what visas for unaccompanied minors mean? It means the organ trade."

Comment: Crikey!

Comment: As we've been pointing our for years now, illicit trafficking in organs for transplant is a world-wide problem. Destitute children are the easiest target. The do-gooders facilitating the migrant movements have no idea what evil they're facilitating.

Heart - Black

Stormy Daniels says creepy porn lawyer Avenatti sued Trump for defamation against her wishes

stormy avenatti
© The Daily Beast
Michael Avenatti sued Donald Trump for defaming Stormy Daniels against her wishes, Daniels told The Daily Beast in a statement on Wednesday.

Avenatti also started a new fundraising site to raise money for her legal defense fund without telling her, Daniels said. She said she is not sure whether or not she will keep Avenatti on as her lawyer.

Here is her full statement, provided to The Daily Beast:
"For months I've asked Michael Avenatti to give me accounting information about the fund my supporters so generously donated to for my safety and legal defense. He has repeatedly ignored those requests. Days ago I demanded again, repeatedly, that he tell me how the money was being spent and how much was left. Instead of answering me, without my permission or even my knowledge Michael launched another crowdfunding campaign to raise money on my behalf. I learned about it on Twitter.

"I haven't decided yet what to do about legal representation moving forward. Michael has been a great advocate in many ways. I'm tremendously grateful to him for aggressively representing me in my fight to regain my voice. But in other ways Michael has not treated me with the respect and deference an attorney should show to a client. He has spoken on my behalf without my approval. He filed a defamation case against Donald Trump against my wishes. He repeatedly refused to tell me how my legal defense fund was being spent. Now he has launched a new crowdfunding campaign using my face and name without my permission and attributing words to me that I never wrote or said. I'm deeply grateful to my supporters and they deserve to know their money is being spent responsibly. I don't want to hurt Michael, but it's time to set the record straight. The truth has always been my greatest ally.

"My goal is the same as it has always been - to stand up for myself and take back my voice after being bullied and intimidated by President Trump and his minions. One way or another I'm going to continue in that fight, and I want everyone who has stood by me to know how profoundly grateful I am for their support."

Snakes in Suits

UK and Ecuador conspire to deliver Julian Assange to U.S. authorities

Ecuadorians support Julian Asssange
© Dolores Ochoa / AP
Ecuadorians hold up pictures of Julian Asssange in a show of support at the Government Palace in Quito, Ecuador, on Oct. 31, 2018.
The accidental revelation in mid-November that U.S. federal prosecutors had secretly filed charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange underlines the determination of the Trump administration to end Assange's asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been staying since 2012.

Behind the revelation of those secret charges for supposedly threatening U.S. national security is a murky story of a political ploy by the Ecuadorian and British governments to create a phony rationale for ousting Assange from the embassy. The two regimes agreed to base their plan on the claim that Assange was conspiring to flee to Russia.

Trump and his aides applauded Assange and WikiLeaks during the 2016 election campaign for spreading embarrassing revelations about Hillary Clinton's campaign via leaked DNC emails. But all that changed abruptly in March 2017 when WikiLeaks released thousands of pages of CIA documents describing the CIA's hacking tools and techniques. The batch of documents published by WikiLeaks did not release the actual "armed" malware deployed by the CIA. But the "Vault 7" leak, as WikiLeaks dubbed it, did show how those tools allowed the agency to break into smartphones, computers and internet-connected televisions anywhere in the world-and even to make it look like those hacks were done by another intelligence service.

Comment: So much for Western values re freedom of expression, the press, human rights, etc, etc, etc.


Political agenda, or just plain greed? Germany's consulates across Middle East are selling visas to migrants

Forged Visa
© ReutersMichaela Rehle
Corrupt officials at German consulates in some Middle Eastern states have been collaborating with people smugglers and literally selling forged visas to migrants seeking to come to Germany as refugees, Der Spiegel revealed.

The corrupt schemes "have been run smoothly [by employees] in the visa centers of many German diplomatic missions abroad," and the Middle East in particular, German Der Spiegel weekly reported, calling the consulates an "Achilles heel" in the fight against people smuggling. The paper also calls the local employees a "weak spot" of German visa departments, as it is they who usually work with people smugglers.

A German consulate in Iraq's northern city of Erbil was particularly involved in one such fraudulent scheme, according to the paper's investigation. Local human traffickers offered to get their clients visas through corrupt consulate officials without the need for an approval by the visa and registration department in Germany. A false document, which could allow a would-be asylum seeker to legally enter Germany as part of a refugee reception program, cost between $3,000 and $13,000.

The shady scheme reportedly ran smoothly between August and December 2017 until finally came to the attention of Foreign Ministry officials. The forgers managed to sell some two dozen visas over this period, Der Spiegel says, adding that the real number of such cases might be much greater.

Brick Wall

Obama used tear gas at least 80 times at Mexico border

Under the Obama Administration, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) law enforcement officials, including Border Patrol agents, utilized tear gas against migrants at or near the border at least 80 times between FY2012 and early FY2017.

CBP officials reported the use of tear gas and pepper spray to push back "assaultive" caravan migrants attempting to enter the U.S. illegally on Sunday. The agency began using these particular sprays during the Obama administration in 2010.

Comment: Democrats would be wise to refrain from mentioning 'Jews fleeing the Holocaust'...

Flashback 6 June 1939: Ship full of Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany turned away by US


Ken Livingstone: Suffering 37 years of lies and smears by the British press

pinocchio puppets
© Getty Images / Frank Bienewald
Small colorful wood carved statues of Pinocchio
Just two weeks ago on the BBC's Question Time, a Tory MP said that Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was anti-Semitic. Many in the audience hissed. They knew this was just another smear. But it was not the first.

From the moment Jeremy became the first genuinely socialist leader for over 30 years, the Tory media has been filled with ridiculous allegations.

Back in the summer, front-page headlines in the Tory newspapers claimed that in the late 1980s several Labour MPs including Corbyn, his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and myself, had been taking thousands of pounds from Czechoslovak communist spies in exchange for secret information from Margaret Thatcher's government.

Comment: Mr. Livingstone has continued to speak out about injustice despite ongoing attack.


Sea of Azov provocation: Kiev declares martial law, Russia warns of 'consequences' - UPDATES

ukraine poroshenko

Ukraine has literally, if just temporarily, become a dictatorship
Moscow has protested Kiev's "planned" breach of Russian waters in the Kerch Strait and cautioned Ukraine's foreign backers against blowing the incident out of proportion. Russia will "strongly" respond to similar "provocations."

Three Ukrainian military boats on Sunday tried to pass through the Kerch Strait apparently without prior warning, but were ordered to stop by Russian border guards. A confrontation ensued, ending with the three ships being seized by the Russian side.

The actions of the Ukrainian Navy "violated the rules of passage through Russian territorial waters," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday, adding that Moscow has summoned an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss the incident.

Comment: In addition, pro-junta arsonists have set fire to the Russian consulate in Kharkov, eastern Ukraine.

russian consulate kharkov ukraine

The Russian government believes that, in addition to an internal Ukrainian motive for staging this provocation now, Kiev is attempting to spark a diplomatic row that would lead to sanctions against Moscow being tightened. That's according to Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin.

Ukies also raged outside the Russian embassy in Kiev, where they hurled flares, smoke grenades and burning tires at the building, all the while chanting "Death to Russia!"

protest russian embassy kiev
© Reuters / Gleb Garanich
A torch thrown by a protester near the Russian embassy in Kiev
A third rally occurred near the Russian consulate in Lvov, western Ukraine.

Russia has today called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting over Kiev's reckless actions, while Poroshenko has placed Ukraine's military on full combat alert...

Update 26 Nov 2018, 16:00 CET

Germany, China urge lowering tensions; Austria worries about impact on Ukraine vote, while, as usual, the UK and EU unequivocally condemn Russia.
The German Foreign Minister has urged Russia and Ukraine to defuse tensions after their naval clash off the Crimean coast. Austria said that Kiev imposing martial law was a "worrying" step ahead of Ukraine's presidential vote.

Speaking in Madrid, Maas also said that Germany and France could play the role of "mediators" between Russia and Ukraine "in case of need." Berlin and Paris are ready to jointly step in at a diplomatic level to prevent "this conflict from exacerbating any further," he said.

Germany's neighbor, Austria, seemed particularly concerned about the incident. The country's Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl promised that Vienna will do its utmost "to prevent further escalation." She said Austria will also initiate discussions on the matter among fellow EU members.

The martial law imposed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was a "worrying" step, Kneissl said. "Exactly in light of the upcoming [presidential] elections in Ukraine, nothing should be done to negatively impact a free and democratic process," she argued.

While Berlin's and Vienna's reaction to the incident off the Crimean coast was quite reserved, some other European officials rushed to Ukraine's defense while slamming Moscow for what they called an "aggression." British Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesperson has said she condemns Russia's "act of aggression" against Ukraine.

The UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt also did not mince words as he said that London "utterly condemns Russia's use of force" against the Ukrainian vessels while accusing Moscow of "contempt for the international norms."

The European Council President Donald Tusk condemned what he called Russia's "use of force in the Azov Sea." He also called on Moscow to actually "refrain from further provocations," even implying that it was Russia and not Ukraine that staged a provocation near the Kerch Strait.

Chinese diplomats have meanwhile urged parties not to ramp up tensions in the Black Sea, with its Foreign Ministry spokesman suggesting that both sides "reach consensus and tackle disagreements through dialogue and consultations."
Note how the British Foreign Office and the EU 'enemy' are perfectly aligned at the level of geopolitics.

Update 27 Nov 2018, 09:40 EST

Poroshenko ran into some trouble trying to get martial law passed in the Rada. First he was blocked from speaking by Lyashko and Tymoshenko, after which he fled the Rada to call Pompeo. Here's what he wrote on Facebook:
"I briefed the US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo by phone on the introduction of a regime of martial law. We coordinated steps to further counteract Russian aggression against Ukraine, including in the Kerch Strait. The illegal actions of Russia are completely unacceptable and should receive the most severe reaction of the international community, including the strengthening of sanctions against the Russian Federation."
Opposition MPs accused Poroshenko of a power grab, leading to a compromise deal of 30 days of martial law (not 60), and only in some parts of the country. (The executive's official newspaper accidentally published Poroshenko's proposed 60-day text, instead of the revised 30-day one.) Fort Russ adds:
Before the vote, Poroshenko addressed the nation on national television, stating that there was an existential and imminent threat of a land operation against Ukraine from Russia. According to him, he has an intelligence document, which describes in detail all the plans of the "enemy", allegedly located several dozen kilometers from the border and ready "for an immediate invasion of the territory of Ukraine."
Which is hilarious, given that Russia has allegedly already 'invaded' Ukraine dozens of times over the past 4 years. And note this, from the text of the martial law decree:
The decree envisages the right of the President, as soon as the Russian soldier crosses the border, not to lose a second to ensure the protection of the Ukrainian land.
So apparently there are no Russian soldiers in Ukraine already! Fancy that!
ukraine martial law
Lyashko is still not pleased:
The Radical Party clarified that by decree of the head of state, citizens of Ukraine are deprived of the right to the inviolability of their home, non-interference in private life, freedom of the media, freedom of thought and speech, elections, the right to peaceful assembly, the right to property, work and education.

"Please tell me how the deprivation of Ukrainians of the right to education, the right to work, the right to earn, the right to speak their native language will help. Show me where is the opposition to the 'Russian aggression'?", Lyashko emphasized.

The deputy also expressed the opinion that Poroshenko intends to falsify the outcome of the presidential elections in March 2019 and usurp power.
As for the incident itself, more details are emerging. The FSB released a statement that the standoff was a "provocative act of the Ukrainian Navy executed upon direct orders by the government in Kiev." This is corroborated in a video of three of the detained Ukrainians making the following statements, released by the FSB (if such testimony can be considered trustworthy):
Guy #1:

I am Andrey Dratch. I am a crew member of the "Nikopol" ship of the Ukrainian Naval Forces. On 23 (November) I received a task to follow the route Odessa-Mariupol, through the Kerch Strait. Following the route to Mariupol through the Kerch Strait we entered the territorial waters of the Russian Federation, when the Coast Guard of the Russian Federation warned us that we were violating the legislation of the Russian Federation. We were repeatedly told to leave the territorial waters of the Russian Federation. While stopping for anchoring the Coast Guard warned us one more time that there is a need to leave the territorial waters of the Russian Federation and to exit to the 12-mile zone and to wait for further decisions concerning our passage through the Kerch Strait to the city of the Mariupol.

Guy #2:

I am Vladimir Vladimirovich Lesovoy, commander of military unit 1828. Since November 22, 2018 I have been in the structure of the group of ships of the Naval Forces of Ukraine, I lead the tug "Yana Kapa" and the boats "Nikopol" and "Berdyansk". I made a passage through the Kerch Strait. After crossing the state borders of the Russian Federation I visually watched the ships of the Border Service of the FSB of the Russian Federation and I consciously ignored their requests to stop over the radio station. At the time of the passage small arms and machine guns with ammunition were onboard. I was aware that the actions of the Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait had a provocative character. I was following orders and planned to carry out the transfer of ships from the port of Odessa to the port of Mariupol.

Guy #3:

I am Sergey Andreevich Tsybizov. On Friday morning we left Odessa at 08:00 and headed to Berdyansk through the Kerch Strait. When we approached the Kerch Strait, we entered the waters of Russia, after which we were given the command to stop and wait for further orders. Before fire was opened, two green flares could be seen. We continued to move on "Nikopol" and then Russian ships contacted us. Our commander decided to stop the boat. We were taken off the boat and that's all.
Colonel Cassad adds the following (Google translated): 23 Ukrainians were detained, three of whom were wounded and treated:
One of the wounded Ukrainian sailors was allegedly wounded by his own officer, because he refused to comply with the order to open fire on Russian ships. The captain of the Nikopol, as mentioned earlier, also handed over the ship to the Russian border guards.

The Naval Forces of Ukraine have entered a state of heightened alert, although taking into account the fact that a significant part of the ships are simply not capable, this is more inflating of the cheeks. Also on alert are the Ukrainian army and security forces.
Ukraine's security chief adds that Ukrainian intelligence operatives were on the navy ships.
Vasily Gritsak, head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), confirmed that counterintelligence officers were on the ships which entered Russian waters in the Kerch Strait on Sunday.

The agents were routinely providing "counterintelligence support to the Ukrainian Navy unit," an SBU statement reads.

Counterintelligence officers are usually embedded with the military and deployed to the frontline, the agency said, adding, "it will always remain so."

Gritsak accused Russia of using excessive force against Ukrainian vessels. Citing some "confirmed intelligence," the statement alleged that a Russian aircraft had fired two missiles at the Ukrainian vessels during the standoff, leaving one SBU officer "seriously wounded."
The idea that the Russians fired two missiles at the ships is absurd. They would have been destroyed.

Update 27 Nov 2018, 14:40 EST

South Front summary of events:

The Ukrainian Armed Forces released the radio communications between the Russian border guard and naval ships. South Front has analyzed the recordings here.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is sending mixed messages. Pompeo is calling for Ukraine and Russia to deal with it on their own:
"We call on both parties to exercise restraint and abide by their international obligations and commitments. We urge Presidents Poroshenko and Putin to engage directly to resolve this situation. In that regard, we reiterate our support for the Normandy Four format," Pompeo said in a press statement on November 26.

However, Ukrainian media has been carrying the line that NATO issued a statement giving unconditional support to Ukraine, amidst in the deteriorating situation in the Azov Sea and Russian actions in the Kerch Strait. The NATO comments come from spokesperson Oana Lungescu in a commentary for Evropeyska Pravda.

Lungescu here stressed that NATO is closely monitoring developments in the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait. "We are in contact with the Ukrainian authorities. We call for restraint and de-escalation."

"NATO fully supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including its navigational rights in its territorial waters. We call on Russia to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law," the Alliance press secretary stated.
What we are seeing is a case of two distinct messages from the U.S side, which are tailored to various audiences. That part of the international community which does not have a vested interest in the outcome of the Russia-Ukraine row, as well as those perhaps partial to Russia, will have received an 'even and fair' message from Washington. In this message, the U.S urges 'both sides to exercise restraint', and to 'solve the issue independently'.

Meanwhile, to the Atlantic Council, NED, Radio Liberty audiences, NATO gives unconditional support.