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Tue, 12 Dec 2017
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Trump admin conceals location of thousands of soldiers fighting abroad in report to Congress

us soldiers afghanistan
© Omar Sobhani / Reuters
Helmand province, Afghanistan July 6, 2017
The White House has omitted, from a report prepared for Congress, the number of US troops fighting around the globe, including in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The expunged data coincides with a Pentagon report listing the location of 44,000 military personnel as "unknown".

In accordance with the 1973 War Powers Resolution, the Trump administration provided Congress on Monday with a semi-annual report accounting for US military personnel stationed abroad. Although the reports are meant to make the executive branch more accountable for US troop deployments, Monday's report left out the number of US troops operating in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Cameroon.

The Trump administration has argued that concealing troop numbers would prevent America's enemies from gaining a strategic advantage. However, in a previous report in June, the White House listed 8,448 Americans serving in Afghanistan, 5,262 in Iraq, and 503 in Syria. The latest briefing for Congress does not provide figures for those war zones or a reason for their omission.

While the White House deemed troop numbers too sensitive to disclose, last week the Pentagon told reporters that 5,200 Americans were serving in Iraq and another 2,000 in Syria, about four times as many troops as previously reported.

Comment: Ron Paul has made the astute point that by concealing the whereabouts of American soldiers, Trump is actually against Congress, the War Powers Resolution enacted after the Vietnam War, and the Constitution:
"The President had stated he wants to keep everything under his vest, because he doesn't want people know, and he believes its proper policy," Paul said. "The Constitution says he's not allowed to send troops around the world without the people and the Congress knowing about it."
He also pointed out that the US govt is equating the public with the enemy with their actions. That wouldn't be the first time they have acted as though their citizenry is the enemy!


Leading Republican Senator expanding Clinton-Uranium One investigation

© YouTube/KJN
On Monday, Barrasso sent the following letter to the Department of Energy:
On March 21, 2011, former NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko responded to my letter on behalf of then-President Obama stating: 'At this time, neither Uranium One Inc. nor ARMZ holds a specific NRC export license. In order to export uranium from the United States, Uranium One, Inc. or ARMZ would need to apply for and obtain a specific NRC license authorizing the export of uranium for use in reactor fuel' ... Recent reporting by The Hill uncovered that Uranium One was able to export uranium without obtaining a specific export license. Beginning in 2012, Uranium One exported U.S. uranium by 'piggy-backing' as a supplier on an export license held by the shipping company, RSB Logistic Services Inc. [...]

Reporting by the Casper Star Tribune shows that, upon receipt of my letter to President Obama, the White House forwarded the letter to the DOE which then referred this matter to the NRC stating: 'Because the subject of the letter does not fall within the purview of the Department of Energy, we are forwarding the letter to your agency.'
The Wyoming GOP lawmaker kicked off his probe into the Clinton-Uranium One deal in October.

The Hill's John Solomon reported last week that the Obama Justice Department failed to call on the deal's secret informant, William D. Campbell, when it came time to charging former Russian uranium industry executive Vadim Mikerinn.

"While he was Maryland's chief federal prosecutor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's office failed to interview the undercover informant in the FBI's Russian nuclear bribery case before it filed criminal charges in the case in 2014, officials told The Hill," reports Solomon.

"I've never heard of such a case unless the victim is dead. I've never heard of prosecutors making a major case and not talking to the victim before you made it, especially when he was available to them through the FBI," Alan Dershowitz told The Hill.

Comment: It's pretty pathetic to see the Republicans catch the same Russian fever that has their Democrat colleagues losing their minds. The only reason Uranium One is a story is because it exposes Clinton and the Dems' hypocrisy - they were perfectly willing to make deals with the Russians before Trump came along. Was the deal shady? By all appearances, yes. Unfortunately, probably the vast majority of such deals are dirty to one degree or another. In that sense, have at it with the investigation. But please, spare us the "evil Russia" hysteria. Your time would be better spent investigation the 2016 election conspiracy to illegally surveil American citizens and destroy the elected president of the USA.


Sri Lanka hands over port to China in Belt and Road Initiative agreement

sri lankan port
© Dinuka Liyanawatte / Reuters
The Sri Lankan government has formally handed over the southern port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease. The $1.5 billion port was opened seven years ago and is incurring losses due to lack of commercial activity.

Under the $1.12 billion deal, signed in July, China Merchants Port Holdings will hold a 70 percent stake in a joint venture with the state-run Sri Lanka Ports Authority. The initial plan to give the Chinese firm an 80 percent stake has sparked protests from trade unions and opposition groups, forcing the sides to redraw the deal.

Sri Lankan parliament member and the son of the former president, Namal Rajapaksa tweeted that the interim government "is only interested in profiting from giving away national assets. How many more will follow?!"

Finance Minister Samaraweera said Sri Lanka has "received $292 million as the first tranche of the Hambantota Port joint venture. This is but the first step in realizing the true commercial value of the port after seven long years."


For first time in 2 years oil prices surge above $65

oil rig
© Isaac Urrutia / Reuters
Brent crude has surged to its highest level since June 2015, trading above $65.00 per barrel. Earlier this month, The Organization for Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-member states, led by Russia, struck a deal to extend production cuts into 2018.

Brent crude oil futures for January were trading at $65.24 per barrel, an increase of 0.52 percent at 2:25 GMT. The benchmark price has been on a steady rise, propped up by recently extended oil production cuts and a corruption purge in Saudi Arabia, OPEC's leader and the second world-largest oil producer.

The latest spike can be attributed to a looming shutdown of the North Sea Forties Pipeline System (FPS), transporting some 450,000 barrels of oil per day, generating fears of major supply disruptions. On Monday, the pipeline operator, UK-based Ineos, said FPS could be closed for "weeks" for essential repairs over a crack in a pipe discovered during a routine check. The FPS carries about 40 percent of the UK's total oil production.

Eye 2

US Military spending to hit $700 Billion, and it's the largest entitlement program on the planet

military industrial complex america war
© Jared Rodriguez
The US economy is caught in a trap. That trap is the Department of Defense: an increasingly sticky wicket that relies on an annual, trillion-dollar redistribution of government-collected wealth. In fact, it's the biggest "big government" program on the planet, easily beating out China's People's Liberation Army in both size and cost. It is not only the "nation's largest employer," with 2.867 million people currently on the payroll, but it also provides government benefits to 2 million retirees and their family members. And it actively picks private sector winners by targeting billions of dollars to an elite group of profit-seeking contractors.

This belligerent cash machine has Uncle Sam caught in a strange cycle of taxpayer-funded dependence that may ultimately be the most expensive - and least productive - jobs program in human history.

The top five overall recipients collectively pulled in $109.5 billion in FY2016, and their cohorts consistently dominate the government's list of top 100 contractors. They reap this yearly largesse through a Rube-Goldberg-like system of influence peddlers, revolving doors and wasteful taxpayer-funded boondoggles. Finally, it is all justified by a deadly feedback loop of perpetual warfare that is predicated on a predictable supply of blowback.

Comment: Imagine what that amount of money could do if it was used for the public good: Train linking China-Russia-Canada-America held back thanks to western politics

Cell Phone

ISIS cyberattacks? Syria main source of recent bomb hoaxes in Russia - police

terrorist hacker
© xijian / Getty Images
The wave of bomb hoax calls in Russia that began in September and sparked numerous evacuations, inflicting multibillion-ruble damages, originated from terrorist-controlled territories in Syria, Russia's deputy interior minister has said.

"The main part of these calls was made from the places in Syria with a high concentration of terrorists," Igor Zubov was quoted as saying by Interfax. "Judging from their intensity, we can say that this was a cyberattack on the territory of the Russian Federation," he added.

The deputy minister said that "telephone terrorists" also made calls from Turkey, Ukraine, the United States, Canada, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. He told reporters that the combined damages from the "cyberattacks" amounted to several billion rubles.


IDF denies involvement as two Palestinians have been killed in drone strike

Members of Palestinian Hamas
© Mohammed Salem / Reuters
Members of Palestinian Hamas security forces survey the scene of an explosion in the northern Gaza Strip December 12, 2017
Two men on a motorcycle were reportedly killed in a drone strike carried out by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip Tuesday, according to Palestinian media reports.

A spokesman for the Health Ministry of Gaza confirmed that two bodies had arrived at the hospital but did not provide any additional details, reports the Jerusalem Post. An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson denied carrying out any such strike.

"Contrary to Palestinian reports ... the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) did not attack in the northern Gaza Strip," the IDF said in a statement, denying any involvement, as cited by Reuters.


'Day of rage': Hamas announces beginning of third 'intifada' against US decision on Jerusalem

Hamas soldiers
© REUTERS/ Ibraheem Abu Mustafa
Hamas militants hold weapons as they celebrate the release of Palestinian prisoner Mohammed al-Bashiti, who served 12 years in an Israeli jail after he was convicted of being a member of Hamas' armed wing, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, July 25, 2016
The previous intifadas in 1987-1991 and 2000-2005 left hundreds of Israelis and thousands of Palestinians dead.

Hamas has announced the beginning of the third "intifada" six days after US President Donald Trump announced the controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

According to the Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, which governs the Gaza Strip, it expects the "day of rage" protests against the US move, which claimed two lives and left over 1,000 injured on Friday, to continue.

Comment: See also:


Demoted DOJ official's wife worked for "dodgy dossier" firm Fusion GPS

Bruce G. Ohr
© AP
Bruce G. Ohr was demoted at the DOJ for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump 'dossier.'
A senior Justice Department official demoted last week for concealing his meetings with the men behind the anti-Trump "dossier" had even closer ties to Fusion GPS, the firm responsible for the incendiary document, than have been disclosed, Fox News has confirmed: The official's wife worked for Fusion GPS during the 2016 election.

Contacted by Fox News, investigators for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) confirmed that Nellie H. Ohr, wife of the demoted official, Bruce G. Ohr, worked for the opposition research firm last year. The precise nature of Mrs. Ohr's duties - including whether she worked on the dossier - remains unclear but a review of her published works available online reveals Mrs. Ohr has written extensively on Russia-related subjects. HPSCI staff confirmed to Fox News that she was paid by Fusion GPS through the summer and fall of 2016.

Fusion GPS has attracted scrutiny because Republican lawmakers have spent the better part of this year investigating whether the dossier, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, served as the basis for the Justice Department and the FBI to obtain FISA surveillance last year on a Trump campaign adviser named Carter Page.

"The House Intelligence Committee," Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told Fox News in a statement on Monday, "is looking into all facets of the connections between the Department of Justice and Fusion GPS, including Mr. Ohr."

Comment: It's all coming together. Mueller is looking for a conspiracy between Russia and Trump. But here's the real conspiracy: the DNC, who hired Simpson's Fusion GPS through their proxy lawfirm, who hired Steele to manufacture the dossier. Simpson and Steele are friends with a top guy in the DOJ, Ohr. Ohr's wife works for Fusion GPS. Steele gets the dossier to top never-Trumpers like John McCain. A top FBI guy (Strzock) covers for Clinton in the email investigation, then goes after Trump with the Russia investigation. It was likely Strzock who then used the dossier to get Trump team members illegally surveilled, and who supervised FBI contacts with Steele. That surveillance was then used to bring down Flynn. And now that these details are starting to leak, these goons are being demoted.

Everything was based on the dossier. Now, that dossier is thoroughly discredited, and so are all those who took it seriously. And everyone connected - from the instigators, to those who believed, to those who facilitated the surveillance, etc. - is at risk of being exposed in an illegal witch hunt spurred on by pure hysteria. No one comes out of this looking clean. Except Trump. Which is why the DOJ, FBI and Intel community are doing everything they can to draw attention from their own complicity and conspiracy. Grab the popcorn, folks!

Eye 2

The Deep State and surveillance that never ends

"He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake
He knows when you've been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake!"
-"Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"
Mass Surveillance
© The Daily Blog
Just in time for Christmas, the Deep State wants to give America the gift that keeps on giving: never-ending mass surveillance.

I'm not referring to the kind of surveillance carried out by that all-knowing and all-seeing Jolly Old St. Nick and his informant the Elf on the Shelf (although, to be fair, they have helped to acclimate us to a world in which we're always being watched and judged by higher authorities).

No, this particular bit of Yuletide gift-giving comes courtesy of the Deep State (a.k.a. the Surveillance State, Police State, Shadow Government and black-ops spy agencies).

If this power-hungry cabal gets its way, the government's power to spy on its citizens will soon be all-encompassing and permanent.

As it now stands, Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act-the legal basis for two of the National Security Agency's largest mass surveillance programs, "PRISM" and "Upstream"-is set to expire at the end of 2017.

"PRISM" lets the NSA access emails, video chats, instant messages, and other content sent via Facebook, Google, Apple and others. "Upstream" lets the NSA worm its way into the internet backbone-the cables and switches owned by private corporations like AT&T that make the internet into a global network-and scan traffic for the communications of tens of thousands of individuals labeled "targets."

Just as the USA Patriot Act was perverted from its original intent to fight terrorism abroad and was used instead to covertly crack down on the American people (allowing government agencies to secretly track Americans' financial activities, monitor their communications, and carry out wide-ranging surveillance on them), Section 702 has been used as an end-run around the Constitution to allow the government to collect the actual content of Americans' emails, phone calls, text messages and other electronic communication without a warrant.

Under Section 702, the government collects and analyzes over 250 million internet communications every year. There are estimates that at least half of these contain information about U.S. residents, many of whom have done nothing wrong. This information is then shared with law enforcement and "routinely used for purposes unrelated to national security."

Mind you, this is about far more than the metadata collection that Edward Snowden warned us about, which was bad enough. Section 702 gives the government access to the very content of your conversations (phone calls, text messages, video chats), your photographs, your emails. As Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., warned, "This is not just who you send it to, but what's in it."

Unfortunately, Big Brother doesn't relinquish power easily.