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Thu, 28 Jul 2016
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House Republicans request IRS to look into Clinton Foundation over 'pay-to-play' allegations

© Enrique Castro-Mendivil / Reuters
The IRS confirmed it has referred claims of “pay-to-play” practices at the Clinton Foundation to its exempt operations for review.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen wrote to House Republican Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee) to inform her that the issue had been "forwarded" to the IRS "Exempt Organization Examinations" program in Dallas.

"This program considers all referrals and will send you a separate acknowledgement when it receives your information," Koskinen wrote in a letter dated July 22, first reported by the Daily Caller.

However, it is not clear whether the agency will take any further action and the agency noted that, under the law, it cannot reveal "any actions we may take on this information."

The request for a review came from 64 House Republicans led by Tennessee Representative Marsha Blackburn, who have tasked the IRS, FBI, and Federal Trade Commission with examining the dealings of the Foundation.

"From the information we have been able to gather, it appears the Clinton Foundation is a 'pay-to-play' sham charity that needs to investigated," Blackburn said in a statement on Tuesday, according to Fox News. "The Clintons have used their Foundation to personally enrich themselves at the expense of American foreign policy. At a minimum, the Foundation's tax-exempt status needs to be reviewed and revoked immediately."

Comment: Let's see how the Queen of Chaos skates through this one. Can she lean on the IRS the way she leaned on FBI?


Daesh releases video purportedly showing the two terrorists who slit French priest's throat

Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) has made a video public showing two men the group claims to be the attackers who broke into a French church and butchered a priest.

The footage released by the Amaq news agency, the propaganda site of Islamic State, reportedly shows the two men pledging allegiance to Islamic State and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Screenshots from the video have been circulating online.

One of the church attackers was identified as Adel Kermiche, 19, who was awaiting trial on terrorism charges.

Comment: It looks like France (and Europe) has finally reached the true 'blowback' phase of the West's adventure in creating and exploiting terrorism in the Middle East. So far, three of the latest terror attacks in Europe (the Ansbach suicide bomber, the Wurzberg axe attacker, and this Normandy church attack) don't show the kind of 'state-sponsored' clues that previous attacks like Brussels and Paris did. All three created 'martyrdom' videos before the attacks, in which they declare that they're doing it for "the Caliphate" (you can watch a captioned version of 17-year-old Pakistani Mohammed Riyadh's video here, Mohammad Daleel's here [with German captions]).

Now Europe faces a choice. Will it cease its support for terrorism abroad and at home, or not? And if so, will it work to actually fight terrorism, as Russia has been doing for the last 20-odd years? And do so while at the same time preventing further dividing Europeans and fostering an Islamophobic 'us-vs-them' mentality in the European public? It looks as if they've already failed in the latter, so things don't look good. They really should have followed Russia's example from the beginning. Instead, at the behest of the Americans, they have created a Frankenstein monster.

War Whore

Lords of war and terror: Report claims US sending 'vast quantities of weapons' via Europe to terrorists in Middle East

© Nour Kelze / Reuters
Governments of Central and Eastern European countries have been selling an "unprecedented" amount of weapons and ammunition to the Middle East in recent years, fueling armed conflicts in the troubled region, a new report claims.

According to the findings by a team of reporters from the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a group of European countries led by Croatia and the Czech Republic have been channeling their arms to the region since 2012.

Since then, they have gained over US$1 billion from such sales, despite some of the weapons ending up in the hands of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists, according to the report, which was published earlier on Wednesday.

The report, titled 'Making a Killing: The 1.2 Billion Euros Arms Pipeline to Middle East,' is the result of a year-long investigation.

It reveals "for the first time" that dozens of airplanes have been taking off from airfields in Eastern Europe, carrying deadly cargo "to Middle Eastern states and Turkey which, in turn, funneled arms into brutal civil wars in Syria and Yemen."

Governments of the selling countries have been well aware of where their exports are ending up, the report claims.

Comment: Note that this report comes via organizations funded by Soros, the EU, the UK and the NED. Shades of the Panama Papers... So what's the agenda here?

While this report is certainly damning, it's only part of the 'weapons-to-terrorists' ratline that Seymour Hersh and others detailed several years ago. Plus, this kind of 'diversion' of weapons is nothing new. Just think of Iran-Contra. It's just the way things work, and there hasn't been anything done to change it.

Then there's the issue of scale; 1.2 billion euros may sound like a lot, but British government arms deals with just one of the avenues for weapons-to-terrorists (Saudi Arabia) amounted to about 10 billion euros during the same time period. The figure for US weapons sales to the region is probably far higher still.

So while there are certainly more questions on the topic, the report brings a bit of clarity to a very murky subject. These weapons are used by terrorists to kill ordinary Syrians and soldiers defending their homeland. Makes you wonder: where do those same terrorists get the weapons to carry out their attacks against EU citizens?


Why is Russia strengthening its Arctic northern periphery?

© Sputnik/ Anna Yudina
Moscow regards the development of the Russian Arctic as an issue which has long-term strategic importance. New military infrastructure, deployed on the perimeter of the country's northern border will ensure both the security of Arctic offshore natural resources and the sovereignty of the state.

Russia continues to expand its military presence in the Arctic region following the creation of Russia's Joint Strategic Command North (JSC North) back in 2014.

Two years ago, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu presented a plan which aimed to ensure the security of Russia's northern borders. The project envisaged covering Russia's Arctic territories with a network of radar stations and military bases and developing the region's infrastructure.


Humiliation games and cognitive dissonance at the Democratic National Convention

+ The big news of the morning was the vindication of a ground-breaking story that Margaret Kidder wrote for CounterPunch several months ago. Buried inside the 20,000 DNC emails released by Wikileaks were documents confirming a tricky financial scam orchestrated by the DNC and the Clinton campaign, whereby money that was meant for state Democratic parties was re-routed to the Clinton machine in order to evade campaign finance laws, thus making a mockery of Hillary's recent pledge to get the Big Money out of politics. We published Kidder's explosive piece on the first of April and it spread like lightning across the Net. Within a few days her exposé had been read by more than one million people and had received more than 50,000 Facebook shares (whatever that means). The Clinton machine shifted into attack mode, their default position. The Clinton trolls first started rumors that the story was an April Fools Day prank. When that attack floundered, the Clinton slime operation set their sights on the author. The article was written by Margot Kidder, the actress, they said with misogynistic condescension. You know, Lois Lane. You can't trust her. She had mental health issues. So much for feminism. This kind of viciousness is standard operating procedure in Clintonworld. But how wrong they were. Margot Kidder is one of the smartest people I know. She's very well read, is a determined researcher and writes with clarity and force. She's also fearless. Margot had the goods on them and now there's no doubt. Heroic work, Margot!

+ The Democrats are working overtime to transform the DNC email episode into a story about Russian hackers, Putin and Trump. One Democratic Party flack called it the most outrageous political break-in since Watergate. Anything to divert attention from the scandalous content of the emails. But there's little hard evidence that Russians were behind the hack. Cyber-expert Bill Blunden wrote to me this morning: "Note that Julian Assange has said: 'We have not disclosed our source, and of course, this is a diversion that's being pushed by the Hillary Clinton campaign.'

Comment: As outlined above, the dizzying number of things that are wrong with the Democratic National Convention are now legion; a certain testament to this time and place - the last gasps of a corrupt, confused and manipulated society in the U.S. The cost of this corruption to itself and to the world will prove very very high.

Fortunately, there are still some out there who see what the real problems are:

War Whore

Chris Hedges: The new European fascists

© Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Government leaders in Poland are promoting a neofascist ideology.
Jaroslaw Kurski and Piotr Stasinski embody the hope that once was Poland. They struggled against the Communist regime for years in the underground press and as Solidarity members. They built Gazeta Wyborcza, now one of the most influential newspapers in the country, after the 1989 fall of communism. They helped usher in a period of democracy and open debate, one that included cultural space for historians such as Jan Gross, a Polish-born American who courageously confronted the taboo topic of Polish complicity in the Nazi extermination of nearly all of Poland's 3 million Jews.

And then neoliberalism, imposed by global capitalism and international banks, began to spread its poison. Legions of unemployed or underemployed were cast adrift. Two million Poles, many of them young people desperate for jobs, have left to work abroad. Governmental austerity programs devastated cultural institutions, including public schools, the arts and public broadcasting. And finally, following a familiar death spiral, the October 2015 elections brought to power the nationalists and demagogues of the right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS). There is no left-wing party represented in the parliament.

Not much of Poland's promise remains. PiS is rapidly rolling back constitutional rights. It blocks state media coverage of the fading political opposition, especially the Committee for the Defense of Democracy (KOD), which has held a series of protest demonstrations. PiS shamelessly uses the airwaves and the schools for rabid nationalist propaganda. The public broadcasting system—in which the party purged more than 100 staff members—twisted President Barack Obama's recent criticism of the Polish government's assault on the judiciary into praise for Polish democracy. And the ruling party has forced state institutions to cancel subscriptions to Gazeta Wyborcza and pressured distributors throughout the country not to display or sell copies of the newspaper.


Belarus signs new military doctrine identifying color revolutions and NATO as main threats to country

© Sputnik/ Alexei Danichev
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has signed a new, updated edition of the country's military doctrine, following deliberations in the country's parliament. Significantly, while the doctrine does not directly identify the countries which serve as a threat to Belarus, it is hinted in no uncertain terms that NATO is the most likely threat.

According to paragraph 11.3 of the new doctrine, direct military threats to the country include "the expansion (or creation) of military-political alliances in the European region in which the Republic of Belarus is not included," and/or an attempt by such alliances to carry out "global functions."

Paragraph 11.4, meanwhile, alludes to the threat posed by "the strengthening of the offensive capabilities of states (or coalitions of states), including the unilateral establishment of strategic missile defense systems, precision-guided weaponry equipped with non-nuclear warheads for attacks against the military forces and infrastructure of the Republic of Belarus," and other measures "leading to a disruption of the existing balance of forces, as well as the building up of military infrastructure by states bordering Belarus."


Poll finds 82% of Russians approve of Putin's job as Russian president

© Sputnik/ Alexei Druzhinin
A total of 82 percent of Russians approve of the Vladimir Putin's job as the Russian president, a poll conducted by the Moscow-based non-profit Levada Center revealed on Wednesday.

Approval rating of Putin's job as Russian president was 81 percent in June, while in July 2015 it totaled 87 percent.

In addition, 55 percent of Russian nationals approve of the work carried out by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, while 51 percent of Russians said they were satisfied with the work of the government as a whole.

Almost half of Russian citizens (46 percent) believe that the country was moving "in the right direction," while 37 percent expressed the opposite point of view and the rest could not give a definite answer.

The Parliament's work was approved by 42 percent of the respondents.

Thus, July's list of most trusted politicians in Russia was headed by President Putin, with 53 percent of support. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov followed suit, with 24 and 21 percent of public trust respectively, the poll revealed.

The survey was conducted on July 22-25 among 1,600 people aged 18 years and older across 137 settlements in the 48 regions of Russia.


The grand chessboard in play - Turkey's shift towards Russia

© Katahon
As with so many CIA-backed leaders, tyrants and despots, once your usefulness to Washington and Langley expires or your policies go off script, a coup or regime change magically emerges. With Turkey's Erdogan, we have seen these familiar patterns as NATO and its globalist backers are more and more revealed to be aggressors against Eurasian interests. Indeed, it was Brzezinski himself who wrote in his Grand Chessboard that control of Eurasia is key to control of the globe:
"... But in the meantime, it is imperative that no Eurasian challenger emerges, capable of dominating Eurasia and thus of also challenging America. The formulation of a comprehensive and integrated Eurasian geostrategy is therefore the purpose of this book." (p. xiv)

"In that context, how America 'manages' Eurasia is critical. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world's three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail Africa's subordination, rendering the Western Hemisphere and Oceania (Australia) geopolitically peripheral to the world's central continent. About 75 per cent of the world's people live in Eurasia, and most of the world's physical wealth is there as well, both in its enterprises and underneath its soil. Eurasia accounts for about three-fourths of the world's known energy resources." (p.31)
"The momentum of Asia's economic development is already generating massive pressures for the exploration and exploitation of new sources of energy and the Central Asian region and the Caspian Sea basin are known to contain reserves of natural gas and oil that dwarf those of Kuwait, the Gulf of Mexico, or the North Sea." (p.125)

Snakes in Suits

USAID 'significant fraud': $239 million in desperately needed Syrian aid frozen

USAID has frozen some $239 million worth of contracts for providing humanitarian aid to Syria, due to numerous reports of "significant fraud" among contractors.

According to officials from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), some partners, charged with handling contracts, picked their winners based on the size of a bribe, offering little to no inspection of the contents of supplies. This led, in one instance, to the use of salt as the sole element in a shipment of "food ration kits." In another instance, investigators found a warehouse in Syria containing useless frying pans and tiny tarps too small to be used by adults.

According to USAID Inspector General Ann Calvaresi Barr, the agency has received 116 complaints of alleged abuse and has opened 25 investigations.

Comment: And US dares to accuse Assad and Russia of hindering humanitarian aid.