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Sat, 19 Aug 2017
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US may be hiding key details of mystery attacks on American diplomats in Cuba

© Getty Images
The number of U.S. government personnel targeted by a mysterious illness in Cuba last year is greater than the Trump administration has publicly acknowledged, according to multiple U.S. officials who told the Washington Free Beacon the Obama administration may have misled Congress about the full scope and nature of the attack.

U.S. officials disclosed earlier this month that six Americans were struck by a mystery illness believed to be caused by a covert sonic device in what many think was a clandestine operation targeting U.S. personnel stationed in the communist country.

The number of Americans impacted is greater than previously disclosed, according to multiple U.S. officials who told the Free Beacon that those suffering from symptoms of sonic damage appears to be more than 10.

"It's definitely in the double digits," one source told the Free Beacon.


Syria summary: Crossing the Euphrates at Deir ez-Zor

The last three weeks in Syria were marked by further consolidation of the Syrian government positions. While this will likely continue, a new front of contention with the U.S. occupation force in north-east Syria is building up over Deir Ez-zor city and the oil-rich rural areas east of it.

Last week the Syrian army liberated Sukhnah east of Palmyra from the Islamic State occupation. The fighting was less severe than anticipated. After nearly surrounding the city and the killing of the local ISIS commander the enemy forces mostly fled towards the Euphrates and Deir Ez-zor.

Two large ISIS held pockets are forming in the east-Hama area. The 3,000 square-kilometer western encirclement is by now complete and remaining ISIS forces within the pocket are hunted down by Russian helicopters and Syrian army commandos. This will eliminate any danger for the narrow supply route to Aleppo city. The second pocket will soon close too. Within the next week the Syrian army will have consolidated the whole area. Troops currently concerned with surrounding the pockets will be freed for the push further east towards Deir Ez-zor. There will be no more danger of large surprise attacks in the back of advancing forces.


Bannon the Barbarian goes 'thermonuclear'

© AP Photo/ Evan Vucci
"I'm leaving the White House and going to war for Trump against his opponents - on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America."

That is what former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, over the phone, told the man who wrote the book on how Bannon/Macchiavelli actually conquered the White House for The Prince, Donald Trump.

Immediately after his ouster Bannon had already alerted the Beltway - and the world - "that presidency is over. It'll be something else. And there'll be all kinds of fights, and there'll be good days and bad days, but that presidency is over."

The "new" American presidency is in fact subordinated to a triad: Pentagon generals; the Trump family; and Goldman Sachs/Wall Street (Less regulation! Less taxes! It's raining money, Hallelujah!)

Bannon added he'd got his hands back on his "weapons"; "I built a f*****g machine at Breitbart. And now I'm about to go back, knowing what I know, and we're about to rev that machine up. And rev it up we will do."


Bannon speaks: 'I'm going to war for Trump'

As Breitbart's Charlie Spiering reports, Bannon has returned to Breitbart News as Executive Chairman of Breitbart News "and chaired our evening editorial meeting"

As The Hill adds, Bannon reclaimed the title of Breitbart's executive chairman and directed the outlet's Friday editorial meeting, the website said in a statement on Friday.

"The populist-nationalist movement got a lot stronger today," said Breitbart News Editor-in-Chief Alex Marlow. "Breitbart gained an executive chairman with his finger on the pulse of the Trump agenda.

As chairman, Bannon oversaw massive growth of the populist website before leaving to be chairman of Trump's campaign. Bannon never settled into his role as chief strategist in the White House, where he feuded bitterly with ideological rivals like Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, economic adviser Gary Cohn and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

Breitbart eagerly accepted Bannon back into the fold. "Breitbart's pace of global expansion will only accelerate with Steve back," said Breitbart president Larry Solov. "The sky's the limit."


Trump reviews military options for Afghanistan at Camp David but makes no decision

© Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
President Donald Trump and his top national security aides have yet to reach a decision on a new approach to the nearly 16-year war and occupation in Afghanistan after meeting for hours at Camp David.

Trump returned to his private golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Friday after spending the day at the presidential retreat in Maryland, where White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said he was "briefed extensively by his national security team on a new strategy to protect America's interests in South Asia."

"The president is studying and considering his options and will make an announcement to the American people, to our allies and partners, and to the world at the appropriate time," the White House said, according to Military.com.

Trump tweeted that he had a "GREAT meeting on National Security, the Border and the Military" on Friday.

No announcement was made on whether more troops would be committed to the region.


Erdogan lashes out at Merkel, tells Turkish in Germany not to vote for chancellor's party

© Michael Kappeler / Reuters
Turkey's president Recep Erdogan has once again lashed out against Germany, this time branding three of its political parties "enemies of Turkey" and urging his "countrymen" not to vote for them. German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party was included on the list.

"I am calling on all my countrymen in Germany... the Christian Democrats (CDU), SDP, the Green Party are all enemies of Turkey. Support those political parties who are not enemies of Turkey," Erdogan said following Friday prayers in Istanbul, as quoted by Reuters.

"I call on them not to vote for those parties who have been engaged in such aggressive, disrespectful attitudes against Turkey, and I invite them to teach a lesson to those political parties at the ballot box," he said.

Erdogan's comments, some of the harshest yet against Merkel and her Christian Democrats, come ahead of the September 24 election which will determine if the chancellor wins a fourth term in office.


Trump administration: Steve Bannon ousted as the military exerts further influence over the White House

Ousting of Bannon as Chief White House Strategist leaves the generals in charge of the government

The announcement of the 'resignation' of White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon represents the culmination of a process which began with the equally forced 'resignation' of President Trump's first National Security Adviser General Michael Flynn.

Individuals who were close to Donald Trump during his successful election campaign and who largely framed its terms - people like Bannon and Flynn - have been picked off one by one.

Taking their place is a strange coalition of former generals and former businessmen of essentially conventional Republican conservative views, which is cemented around three former generals who between them now have the levers of powers in their hands: General Kelly, the President's new Chief of Staff, General H.R. McMaster, his National Security Adviser, and General Mattis, the Secretary of Defense.

In the case of Bannon, it is his clear that his ousting was insisted on by General Kelly, who is continuing to tighten his control of the White House.

Comment: Whether or not Bannon had much of an influence on the Trump Administration is no longer an issue. What we're seeing now in the elevation of former military personnel to the White House may be Trump's last ditch effort to surround himself with war party 'insiders' that he thinks may provide some level of security and protection against relentless Deep State attacks. The wagons have him surrounded, and his relative freedom to do anything of value for the US - and for the world - is being mercilessly curtailed. Hang on to your hats, this situation is only bound to get worse.

Snakes in Suits

Carla Del Ponte: A war crimes prosecutor or a guided missile against Syria?

© UN Photo /Jean-Marc Ferré/ flickr
Only one week after announcing her decision to step down as one of the three members on the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria where she has spent five years since it's inception in September 2012, Carla Del Ponte told Swiss media in interviews published Sunday, that her team has collected enough evidence against the President of Syria, Dr. Bashar Al Assad to convict him of war crimes.

She stated that her reason for stepping down is due to frustration at the U.N. Security Council's failure to continue the commission's work by setting up a special tribunal for Syria that could try alleged war criminals. "That is why the situation is so frustrating. The preparatory work has been done, but nevertheless, there is no prosecutor and no court," she told Sonntagszeitung. "It's a tragedy." She stated that "everyone in Syria is on the bad side. The Assad government has perpetrated horrible crimes against humanity and used chemical weapons. And the opposition is now made up of extremists and terrorists." In Sunday's interviews, she said she had handed in her resignation letter last Thursday, and that she would officially step down on September 18, after the commission presents its latest report to the UN Human Rights Council. UN chief Antonio Guterres appealed last week for the commission to continue its work despite Del Ponte's departure.

As a veteran former war crimes Prosecutor and former Swiss Attorney General, Del Ponte has prosecuted war crimes in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia and is accustomed to high stress, high level corruption and crimes. Therefore her abrupt decision to step down and theoretically throw in the towel based on "frustration" seems a bit out of character for someone of her caliber.

Star of David

Abby Martin: Plain truth about the Zionist regime in Palestine

© Pinterest.KJN
Note by the Saker: interesting interview with Abby Martin, I highly recommend it. Please try to set aside the typical Leftist clichés and language and just listen about what she experienced while visiting Palestine for the first time.

I wanted to share this video with you because Abby's experience exactly mirrors mine. Except that I was even more clueless than her when I set foot in Israel for the first time. Being the loyal little Cold Warrior and Right-winger that I was, I sincerely believed that Israel was a land of heroic refugees surrounded by Arab terrorists (yeah, I was that dumb. I was also 19 years old...). It took me exactly one week to change my views by a full 180 degrees.

I saw everything Abby describes, or things very similar, with my own eyes. That was true in 1982 and it remains true in 2017. Imagine putting up with THIRTY FIVE YEARS of that kind of oppression! And now try to imagine living through SEVENTY YEARS of this and you will get a sense, of what it is to be a Palestinian. In truth, none of us, not even Abby or myself, can imagine any of that since we are not Palestinians and we never lived this nightmare, we only visited this place.

Abby says that which others never do. Please set aside her silly aspects and take in the reality she describes. It is all true, 100% true.

The Saker

Comment: Abby Martin's sincere narrative of her experiences and impressions is well worth the listen.


Trump's attacks could leave him without friends if impeachment comes

© Jonathan Ernst
President Donald Trump has stepped up his attacks on Republican senators, an approach he may regret if he is someday impeached and the Senate has to weigh charges against him stemming from an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

More than half of the 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which would be central to any proceeding to remove Trump from office, have tangled with the Republican president, including on Thursday when he fired off early-morning tweets.

In one Twitter series, Trump called Senator Lindsey Graham "publicity seeking" and said he "just can't forget his election trouncing" in the 2016 presidential race. Trump also assailed Senator Jeff Flake, another Republican critic, as "a non-factor in the Senate," adding, "He's toxic."

Flake and Graham are members of the Judiciary Committee, whose Chairman Chuck Grassley has urged Trump to tone it down.

"He should be 100 percent sticking to ideas and forget about personalities," Grassley said on Friday when pressed on whether Trump might find himself without the friends in Congress he would need to defend himself in an impeachment proceeding.