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District Judge rules Rosenstein is the 'ultimate authority' over Mueller's investigation

SC Robert Mueller
© AP
Special Counsel Robert Mueller
As of July 31, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller has finally been reigned in by a District Judge for the United States District court for the District of Columbia.

Usually, a Special Counsel is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. In this case - which is the first of it's kind in U.S. history - the Special Counsel was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after Attorney General Jefferson B. Sessions has recused himself from matters related to the Russian "collusion" investigation, since President Donald J. Trump is the subject of the investigation.

Since this is a case of first impression, there have not been any guidelines regarding the parameters of Mueller's investigation, causing frustration among President Donald J. Trump, American citizens, and even federal judges.

Comment: The Hill has an excellent report on the many weaknesses in this judge's decision, pointing out that, "If Howell is right, the attorney general, without Senate approval and by his own regulations, can establish independent prosecutors with vast budgets, secret powers, and no effective oversight by the president or Congress."

The report continues:
It is a well written opinion, but it is deeply flawed when held up to the light of reality. Its implications are its weakness. Under the ruling, a crafty deputy attorney general could appoint the most powerful prosecutor in the land with an unlimited term, hidden authority, independent budget, and with little oversight by the president or Congress just by declaring the attorney general to have a conflict and therefore to be disabled. Or an attorney general looking to sink a president can simply say his hands are tied and delegate the process to folks immune from direct authority.

Come to think of it, one of those alternatives is exactly what we are living through right now, and it has bitterly divided the country. Given that an impeachment trial requires two-thirds of the Senate, the appointment of independent counsels with a majority vote of the Senate makes sense. It would prevent the runaway appointments and prosecutions that have been the ignominious hallmark of special counsels. It would put the Constitution back in the driver seat, and end these secret processes that have allowed the hijacking of our government by unelected officials.

I hope this case gets to the Supreme Court with all deliberate speed so the ruling can be overturned. The entire country knows that one presidential campaign was treated one way and another was treated much differently. Rosenstein and Mueller have become blind to the corrosive effect of this unfair justice. Ending the appointment of the special counsel on grounds that it needed Senate confirmation could be the best way out of the mess created by this backdoor granting of power.



Megaphone

Turkey lodges WTO complaint that US tariffs broke free trade rules

steel factory
© Darley Shen / Reuters
Turkey has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against US tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum products.

"Turkey has requested WTO dispute consultations with the United States concerning additional import duties imposed by the United States on steel and aluminium products. The request was circulated to WTO members on 20 August," the WTO said on Monday.

In its petition to the WTO, Turkey said the US violated free trade rules when it initially imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports in June for most countries. Doubling them is an additional violation, according to Ankara.

Comment: The WTO complaint probably won't do much but you can't blame Turkey for going all in: Also check out SOTT radio's: NewsReal: Social Media Censorship and the Clash of Civilizations - Manufactured, Packaged, Sold


Bad Guys

The 1953 Iran coup was a crime authored in London and Washington, where they're conspiring to do it again

1953 Iran coup
© INTERCONTINENTALE / AFP / AFP
This week marks 65 years since the Western-orchestrated coup in Iran. August 19, 1953 is the day that Iranians were taught a hard lesson in the rules of the game when it comes to empire and hegemony.

For on this day, the country's democratically elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, was overthrown at the hands of Washington and London. It was, by any measure, an act of international banditry that continues to cry out for just redress.

Operation Ajax was planned, organized and unleashed by the CIA in conjunction with MI6 in response to the decision that was taken by Mossadegh - acting with the support of the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) - to nationalize Iran's oil and husband the resulting revenue for the benefit the Iranian people.

Up to this point, the lion's share of the revenue garnered from the exploitation of Iranian oil was sucked out of the country by the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC) - the British state-owned oil company established in 1908 with this objective in mind and the forerunner of today's global oil conglomerate BP.

Tornado2

Unhinged CNN analyst Philip Mudd blows up at Paris Dennard for pointing out the profitability of security clearances

Phil Mudd CNN, Paris Dennard

If Mudd's outburst on steroids is not the top unhinged moment in the media of the year, it definitely has to rank in the top five.
Wow!

CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd has a well-deserved reputation for being unhinged but on Friday's Anderson Cooper 360 (with substitute host Jim Sciutto), he went completely berserk to the extent of trying to kick another commentator off the show that wasn't even his. Before his actual explosion you can see the absolute fury building up in him as political commentator Paris Dennard was making good points as to why security clearances are profitable for those who hold them.

If Mudd's outburst on steroids is not the top unhinged moment in the media of the year, it definitely has to rank in the top five:


Comment: Lest one think Mr Mudd was simply having a bad day, this nutjob routinely suggests Trump should be killed:

See also: Former CIA official taunts 'Trump can't do anything about the FBI' in spite of GOP memo


Monkey Wrench

Italy's NATO racket: Is it a bridge too far?

Morandi bridge
© KRISTV.com
Morandi motorway bridge, Genoa, Italy
The catastrophic bridge collapse in Italy this week has prompted a public outcry over the country's crumbling infrastructure and how it is putting lives at risk. But the question the public in Italy and across Europe should be asking is: why are their governments spending extra tens of billions of dollars on NATO militarism, while neglecting vital civilian infrastructure?

When the iconic Morandi motorway viaduct came crashing down this week over the city of Genoa - with a death toll so far of 39 people - the consensus among Italian news media and members of the public is that the bridge was a disaster waiting to happen.

Nearly 200 meters of the motorway flyover section spanning a river, houses and an industrial area collapsed while dozens of cars and trucks were passing. Shocked witnesses described the scene as "apocalyptic" as vehicles plunged 40 meters along with concrete and iron girding to the ground below.

Comment: Trump is right that NATO countries are not paying their fair share and the US has been carrying the heavy financial load. NATO's necessity is based on propaganda that maintains a looming bogeyman, a unified threat, in order to support the sales of arms. And for that reason, it must maintain and expand. Is it 'a bridge gone too far'?


Dollars

Breaking with US on Iran, the EU to cover US damages to Iranian economy

MerkelRouhani
© NPR/Time
German Chancellor Angela Merkel • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
The EU and Germany have reached an agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, and promised to make up for Iran the loss resulted from private companies' exit after the US sanctions. This was confirmed today in a public announcement by Iran's Vice-President.

Iran signed the deal with major world powers - the US, Russia, China, UK, France and Germany, known officially as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), in 2015. Under this agreement, Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear program, and in exchange received an easing of economic sanctions.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its latest report in May was able to indeed verify Iran's compliance to the deal for the eleventh time since the agreement was implemented in 2016. This is a fact seemingly under-reported in western corporate media, but is a story long followed by FRN.

Regardless of this commitment, US President Donald Trump, in an attempt to comply with Israel's apparent Yinon plan for a Greater Israel, withdrew from the deal on May 8, 2018. In an act of showmanship, he called it the worst deal ever. Subsequently he re-imposed unilateral economic sanctions against Iran, which the EU has decided, in its wisdom, not to go along with.

Comment: If the EU can see past the current Iran projection as 'an aggressor', will it also come to see Russia in a different light? Much depends on how long fear and ignorance remain hand-in-hand.


Footprints

Total to leave Iran despite Brussels' protection pledge against US sanctions

oilfieldrefinery
© Unknown
Shutting down, moving out...
French energy major Total is leaving Iran, the country's oil minister announced on Monday. The firm pulled out of a major gas development deal despite promises by the EU to protect European companies from US sanctions.

"Total has officially left the agreement for the development of phase 11 of South Pars (gas field). It has been more than two months that it announced that it would leave the contract," Iran Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said, as quoted by the government-run ICANA news agency.

Total's departure was triggered by Washington's unilateral reinstatement of sanctions against Tehran, which also targets any foreign firms doing business with the Islamic Republic.

In May, the EU officials pledged to protect the European companies doing business in Iran by enforcing the so-called Blocking Statute - a law of one jurisdiction that is designed to hinder application of a ruling made by a foreign jurisdiction. Brussels said that despite US sanctions, European firms would continue working in Iran under the protection of the EU.

"As the European Commission we have the duty to protect European companies. We now need to act, and this is why we are launching the process to activate the 'blocking statute' from 1996," EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said prior to his July meeting with President Trump.

The announcement by Brussels failed to assure major European firms, for whom the prospect of losing the US market is much scarier than losing contracts in Iran.

Comment: For the US, its whether you win or lose, not how you play the game. The EU has come to an agreement with Iran, promising to make up for Iran's loss due to private company exodus.
See also: Breaking with US on Iran, the EU to cover US damages to Iranian economy


Arrow Up

Trump: One-state solution could eventually result in an Israeli PM named 'Mohammed'

TrumpAbdullah
© Unknown
US President Trump • Jordan's King Abdullah II
US President Donald Trump told King Abdullah II of Jordan that a one-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine could lead to an Israeli prime minister called "Mohammed" in a few years, according to a new report.

Trump made the comments in June, according to a report in Axios which quotes remarks made by King Abdullah to the French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Jordan's capital Amman earlier this month. The comments were relayed to the reporter by French diplomats who were present at the meeting.

In the meeting with Le Drian, Abdullah said he warned Trump during a June 25 conversation at the White House, that "many young Palestinians don't want the two-state solution anymore, but would rather live together with the Israelis in one state with equal rights for all" and claimed claimed that Israel would lose its "Jewish character" under a one-state solution.

Trump reportedly agreed with the comment, saying that it "made sense" and jokingly added that "the prime minister of Israel in a few years will be called Mohammed" under that scenario.

According to the report, Abdullah also told Trump that any new peace plan from the White House must first be presented to the relevant European and Arab countries for input to ensure the deal is acceptable to everyone. He reportedly expressed frustration that the Trump administration had not yet done this, but also cautioned against rushing the plan because there were "too many difficulties at the moment".

Comment: Compared to Israel, the Palestinian population size is formidable. If a combined state were ever to become the reality, and Palestinians were accorded an equal voice, the Palestinians would consolidate around a candidate of their lineage. Though Trump was jesting, a leader named 'Mohammed', via a one-state arrangement, could happen. It is not by whim that Israel has legally adopted apartheid and is rapidly increasing its resident population, while eliminating Palestinians, in order to maintain and secure its majority rule for now and the future.

See also: Palestinian refugees in occupied territories increased by 1M over past ten years


Snakes in Suits

Federal judge flips Trump order by reinstating Obama's WOTUS rule

River
© Unknown
"navigable waters"
A federal judge in South Carolina issued an injunction against the Trump administration Thursday, lifting a stay on an Obama-era rule that expanded federal authority under the Clean Water Act.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the "waters of the U.S." (WOTUS) rule in 2015, giving the agency the authority to regulate seasonal and relatively insignificant bodies of water as "navigable waters" under the Clean Water Act.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order in February 2017 to review and rewrite the WOTUS rule to constrict its application "consistent with the opinion of Justice Antonin Scalia in Rapanos v. United States."

Former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt followed up on Trump's executive order in January, beginning the review process and staying the WOTUS rule until 2020. Thursday's injunction lifts Pruitt's order to stay the rule in 26 states, or every state in which a district judge has not already ordered the rule stayed, E&E News reports.

Comment: See also:


Attention

Trump labels Mueller probe 'McCarthyism at its worst', lashes out at 'fake' New York Times

Trump
© Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
"It's McCarthyism at its WORST!"
US President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to launch another scathing attack on the New York Times and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia probe, calling it "McCarthyism at its WORST."

The weekend Twitter ire of the president was prompted by the publication of a New York Times piece on White House lawyer Donald McGahn's extensive cooperation in Mueller's investigation based on sources. The president immediately reacted Saturday evening, saying that it was he who allowed McGahn and others to be interviewed and ordered "millions" of pages of documents to be provided.


On Sunday morning, he continued sharing his thoughts on the article and tweeted that White House lawyer Don McGahn isn't "a John Dean type 'RAT,'" adding that the story was "Fake News," and claimed that some in the media have apologized to him over it.

Comment: See also: NYT: White House counsel cooperates with 'Russiagate' probe, Trump says he allowed it