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Fri, 25 May 2018
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Can Trump lawfully investigate his investigators?

Trump Mueller
© salon.com
This past weekend, President Donald Trump suggested that his presidential campaign may have been the victim of spies or moles who were FBI informants or undercover agents. He demanded an investigation to get to the bottom of the matter.

At the same time that the president was fuming over this, Republican congressional leaders were fuming about the reluctance of senior officials at the Department of Justice and the FBI to turn over documents that might reveal political origins of the current criminal investigation of the president by special counsel Robert Mueller.

Can the president intercede in a federal criminal investigation of which he himself is a subject? Can Congress intercede in a DOJ criminal investigation? Here is the back story.


N. Korea still wants peace with US, ready to talk 'any time, any way'

Kim Jong Un
© KCNA / Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
The decision by US President Donald Trump to cancel the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is "not in line with the world's wishes," the government in Pyongyang has announced.

Kim has made the "utmost efforts" to hold a summit with Trump, said the North Korean first vice minister for foreign affairs, Kim Kye-gwan, according to the state news agency KCNA. The meeting between two leaders was scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.

Pyongyang is "still willing to resolve issues with the United States," the official said, holding onto the hope that the meeting could still be rescheduled.

Comment: Trump claims he's still willing to talk but is leaving the 'military option' open. The New York Times reports:
Mr. Trump said later that the meeting, which had been scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, could still happen, and North Korea issued a strikingly conciliatory response, saying it hoped Mr. Trump would reconsider.

But Mr. Trump also renewed talk of military action against the North and vowed to keep pressing economic sanctions, guaranteeing that for now, at least, his unlikely courtship of Mr. Kim will give way to a more familiar cycle of threats and tension.

Penis Pump

Macron addresses "dear Putin" and Russia's "irreplaceable role in solving international problems", meanwhile France's businesses make billion dollar deals

Putin and Macron
© REUTERS / Stephane De Sakutin/Pool
Russia is irreplaceable in international relations, including in the Middle East, French President Emmanuel Macron said at a joint media conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg.

While delivering a lyrical speech that lasted over 20 minutes, starting with the long history of Franco-Russian ties, Macron underlined that France is an independent country and that dialogue with Russia is a "manifestation of this independent position."

"I am perfectly aware of Russia's irreplaceable role in solving international problems," he said after several hours of talks with Putin, where the two discussed Syria and the Iran nuclear deal among other international issues in which both countries are taking an active part.

Comment: Duplicitous Macron says after joining the renewed illegal Western bombing of Syria when Russia had already routed US-backed ISIS, initiated a peace deal and was in the process of rehabilitating the country.

Comment: You've got to hand it to Putin, he can handle the slipperiest of snakes with ease. And in the end, the world is pivoting away from the collapsing US empire, and Russia and China are ready to accommodate any willing country with mutually beneficial partnerships: For more, check out SOTT radio's:


Gazprom to reduce gas prices for Eastern & Central Europe after apparent EU anti-trust breach

gas cooker hob
© Regis Duvignau / Reuters
The European Union is imposing a series of obligations on Russian energy giant Gazprom to improve the flow of gas at competitive prices in Eastern Europe, EU Antitrust Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said on Thursday.

Gazprom will have to ease its hold on the European market, said Vestager, giving consumers "an effective tool to make sure that the price they pay is competitive."

The Commission's decision comes after three years of legal action. It means Gazprom will have to remove restrictions on customers to resell gas across borders and improve gas flows to members like Bulgaria and the Baltic nations.

Comment: Yet another reminder how desperately the EU needs Russian gas. Does this mean that the local providers will be permitted to sell it on and price gouge the consumer? At least Gazprom was cooperative, unlike many utility providers within the EU that routinely bilk helpless consumers and who are at their mercy by the supposed EU watchdogs:

Stock Up

Russian central bank boasts of "operational" SWIFT alternative as defense against US sanctions

Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina
© Grigory Dukor / Reuters
Russian Central Bank Governor Elvira Nabiullina
Russia has managed to develop a national system for money transfers that could protect its banking from the possible cut off from SWIFT transfer services in case of tougher US penalties, the central bank chief said at SPIEF.

"There are risks in using the global financial networks, the global financial system, of which Russia is a part," the Central Bank of Russia's governor, Elvira Nabiullina, said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

"Therefore, since back in 2014, we have been developing our own systems, including a payments system. Inside Russia we have created a system for transferring financial data, which is similar to SWIFT."

Comment: It seems many countries and institutions are beginning to see the economic perils of allying itself with the ailing US empire and we are seeing shifts in their opposition to its suicidal agenda. While Russia has remained open and resilient in the face of the relentless attacks from the Western establishment, it has also been readying itself for any and all eventualities: Also check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Atlantic Trade War? How Trump Breaking Iran Deal Could Dismantle US Empire


Syrian air defense intercepts Israeli missile strike on airport near Homs

An image grab from a video released on May 10, 2018 by the media bureau of the Syrian army and broadcast on Syria's official TV shows Syrian air defense systems intercepting Israeli missiles
© Photo by AFP
An image grab from a video released on May 10, 2018 by the media bureau of the Syrian army and broadcast on Syria's official TV shows Syrian air defense systems intercepting Israeli missiles
Syrian air defense systems have repelled a missile attack on an airport near the western city of Homs, less than a day after US-led coalition jets targeted several Syrian military positions in the country's eastern Dayr al-Zawr province.
"One of our military airports in the central region was exposed to a hostile missile attack, and our air defense systems confronted the attack and prevented it from achieving its aim," Syria's official news agency, SANA, reported on Thursday night.
The news agency had earlier said that sounds of explosions were heard near Dabaa airport, which lies about 20 kilometers southwest of Homs near the Lebanese border.

Comment: An Israeli warplane targeted Syria's Dabaa military airbase in the south-western countryside of Homs province according to several field sources.
The jet fired two missiles from the Syrian-Lebanese border; one was shot down while the other struck an arms depot in the vicinity of the airport resulting in large fires.

Preliminary information suggests that a number of casualties were transported for further medical treatment in Homs's hospital.
See also:

Arrow Down

N. Korea labels Pence a 'political dummy', threatens 'appalling tragedy' and summit cancellation

© Shizuo Kambayashi / Reuters
US Vice President Mike Pence
Pyongyang has threatened to scrap the US-North Korean leadership meeting and make the US face "an appalling tragedy." The remarks came in response to Vice President Mike Pence's warning on a Libyan scenario for the country.
"As a person involved in the U.S. affairs, I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice-president," North Korean vice-minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son-hui said as cited by state media on Thursday.

"We could surmise more than enough what a political dummy he is as he is trying to compare the DPRK, a nuclear weapon state, to Libya that had simply installed a few items of equipment and fiddled around with them."
US officials are apparently continuing with President Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" approach despite the recent relief in tensions on the Korean peninsula. On Monday, Pence said that if the North's leader Kim Jong-un tries to play Trump and fails to make a deal on its nukes, it will "only end like the Libyan model ended."

He was not the first high ranking official to mention Libya while speaking about the North's denuclearization. Earlier US national security adviser John Bolton brought up the "Libyan model"of giving up the nuclear arsenal as well.

Comment: It is horribly sad that the US can't help itself from making matters worse. Sad that it is a master at fomenting war and destruction, playing on the insecurities of other nations and threatening millions of innocent people - that include its own citizens. See some of what VP Pence has offered:


Trump cancels June meeting with Kim

© Reuters
US President Donald Trump • North Korea Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un
President Donald Trump has cancelled a much-anticipated summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, "based on the tremendous anger and open hostility" from Kim, who threatened the US with a "nuclear to nuclear showdown."
"I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting,"
read the letter, sent a few hours after North Korea blew up its nuke testing site at Punggye-ri. The demolition was witnessed by a small pool of foreign journalists, and was considered a goodwill gesture from Kim ahead of the planned summit.

Comment: So close and yet so far. Diplomatic immaturity coupled with a choke-hold neocon staff, gives no opportunity for progress and reconciliation between the US and North Korea. The momentum has been changed by Pence, Pompeo and Bolton, and any chance of a peaceful outcome thwarted. They must be so damn proud of themselves. They may get their war. The only one who can stop this new trajectory, dump the team and resume control is Trump.

Snakes in Suits

Trump touts military strength as 'powerful and ready' after cancelling Kim summit

© Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
Check out Pence's 'knowing look'...
After cancelling a long-awaited summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, President Donald Trump reverted to his earlier rhetoric, saying that the US military is "more ready than...ever before," [if] Kim does something 'foolish.'

Delivering remarks on the cancellation Thursday, Trump chose to spend much of his time touting his military strength.

"Our military, which is by far the most powerful anywhere in the world," he said, "is ready if necessary," should Kim react badly to the cancellation. Trump also announced that South Korea and Japan were onboard and ready to shoulder some of the cost of military operations, should the need arise.

Trump called the latest development "setback," yet he expressed hope for the positive outcome. In his usual manner, he said that that the summit still may happen. "If and when Kim Jong Un chooses to engage in constructive dialog, I am waiting," said Trump. Failing that, he warned Kim against "foolish and reckless" acts.

The cancellation came hours after Pyongyang dismantled its nuclear test site as promised.

Comment: "What happens when the Unstoppable Force meets the Immovable Object?" Superman responded "They surrender." And alas, Superman is a cartoon. Comic book heroes not withstanding, the military exercises with South Korea are a major sticking point for any compromise with North Korea. Nothing is served or solved if the US remains the completely 'immovable object'.

See also: Trump cancels June meeting with Kim


Khamenei: Trump will 'vanish from history' and US will 'be defeated'

© The Times of Israel/KJN
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said that Iran would defeat the United States if Iranian officials did their duty, and that US President Donald Trump will vanish from history, like his predecessors.

"There is no doubt that the Americans will be defeated, provided Iranian officials fully perform their duties," Khamenei said in his first public comments since US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo listed 12 demands for Iran on Monday.

Khamenei also said that the US had no excuse to quit the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, adding "you see how easily they can cancel it," according to Iranian state television.

The Iranian leader said that the US has always wanted regime change in Tehran, but that America would be defeated if they tried.

On Monday, Pompeo laid out 12 "basic requirements" for Iran to abide by if it wants to "keep its economy alive." The list of directives included withdrawing from Syria, ending support for Houthi rebels in Yemen and promising to never process plutonium. Tehran must also allow "unqualified access" to all nuclear sites in the country.

If Iran fails to comply with Washington's list of demands, the US will impose the "strongest sanctions in history," Pompeo warned.

Comment: 'Threat-oric' is running high and wild. Someone needs to stop this ASAP before menacing word wars are replaced by permanent and devastatingly reciprocal actions. See also: