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Govt attempts to seal 11,000 docs in court case relating to seizure of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

© Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press
For years, the federal government has been quietly fighting to keep a lid on an 11,000-document cache of government communications relating to financial policy.
The "most transparent administration in history" has spent years trying to hide embarrassing financial secrets from the public

It's not quite the Panama papers, but one hell of a big pile of carefully guarded secrets may soon be made public.

For years now, the federal government has been quietly fighting to keep a lid on an 11,000-document cache of government communications relating to financial policy. The sheer breadth of the effort to keep this material secret may not have a precedent in modern presidential times.

"It's the mother of all privilege logs," explains one lawyer connected with the case.

The Obama administration invoked executive privilege, attorney-client and deliberative process over these documents and insisted that their release would negatively impact global financial markets. But in finally unsealing some of these materials last week, a federal judge named Margaret Sweeney said the government's sole motivation was avoiding embarrassment.

"Instead of harm to the Nation resulting from disclosure, the only 'harm' presented is the potential for criticism," Sweeney wrote. "The court will not condone the misuse of a protective order as a shield to insulate public officials from criticism in the way they execute their public duties."*

So what's so embarrassing? Mainly, it's a sordid history of the government's seizure of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, also known as the government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs.

Arrow Up

Tillerson verifies IAEA reports: Iran is in compliance with nuclear accord

© kob.com
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said after a ministerial meeting at the UN on the Iran nuclear agreement that reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) show that Tehran is compliant with the accord.

"From the technical standpoint the IAEA reports continue to indicate and confirm that Iran is in technical compliance with the agreement," Tillerson said during a press conference in New York. He noted however, that the United Stated will continue closely watching Iran's activities with respect to abiding by the nuclear agreement.

"We are going to continue to monitor Iran's activities, and we will take additional steps, none of which put us in any way contrary to our obligations under the JCPOA," Tillerson said. "We are fully compliant with the JCPOA."

The US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also said that he shook hands with Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif during talks on the Iran nuclear accord earlier in the night.

"It was a good opportunity to meet [and] shake hands," Tillerson said. "The tone was very matter of fact. There was no anger or yelling. It was an exchange of how we see this agreement very differently." He said that ministerial talks at the UN related to the Iran nuclear deal were political rather not technical. "It was not a technical discussion, it was a political discussion... So we had a very open and candid exchange of all the parties to that agreement. I hope it was useful to others. I found it useful to hear their perspectives," Tillerson said.

Comment: Mr. Tillerson may have managed to defuse the situation by meeting with FM Zarif and verifying Iran's compliance. The next few days will tell if Trump can separate his political concerns from issues regarding technical compliance.

Additional from The Hill:
Tillerson and other officials are urging Trump to certify Iran's compliance but make changes to address U.S. concerns.

Trump announced Wednesday that he had made a decision on the deal, which Tillerson said would need "additional work" before being released publicly.

Tillerson later indicated that while Iran was in technical compliance with the accord, the Trump administration's concerns were more political.

Brian Hook, the State Department director of policy planning, confirmed to the Journal that while Trump has decided on a course of action on the deal, "we are still working on a comprehensive plan to address the non-nuclear aspects of Iran's behavior."

The administration is expected to announce the decision on the JCPOA before the upcoming October deadline for its re-certification.
See also: Tillerson: Trump is 'clear and concise' but remains quiet on Iran deal decision


Samantha Power made almost daily requests to 'unmask' American citizens - sources

Samantha Power sought to unmask Americans on almost daily basis, sources say

Samantha Power, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was 'unmasking' at such a rapid pace in the final months of the Obama administration that she averaged more than one request for every working day in 2016 - and even sought information in the days leading up to President Trump's inauguration, multiple sources close to the matter told Fox News.

Two sources, who were not authorized to speak on the record, said the requests to identify Americans whose names surfaced in foreign intelligence reporting, known as unmasking, exceeded 260 last year. One source indicated this occurred in the final days of the Obama White House.

The details emerged ahead of an expected appearance by Power next month on Capitol Hill. She is one of several Obama administration officials facing congressional scrutiny for their role in seeking the identities of Trump associates in intelligence reports - but the interest in her actions is particularly high.

People 2

Trump may be a narcissist, but the Clintons are psychopaths

© REUTERS/Mike Segar
Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband former U.S. president Bill Clinton depart after voting in the U.S. presidential election at the Grafflin Elementary School in Chappaqua, New York, U.S., November 8, 2016.
Hillary Clinton is very much like my hemorrhoids: neither will just go away. They both keep coming back and both are exceedingly irritating. She has recently gone on her Latest Excuses Tour, and all the reasons that she keeps giving for having lost the election has reached 39 at last count. She has blamed everything and everyone-except herself, or her serial rapist husband. This is very typical of a sociopath.

Comment: The better word is psychopath. 'Sociopath' is a catchall for antisocial offenders. 'Psychopath' is the preferred scientific term for the personality type Simon is describing.

Even the people at CNN and Yahoo think she looks ridiculous in continually coming up with new excuses. Now that is saying something.

I spent many years in the field as a forensic psychologist and along the way I learned many things. One was that a consistent finding in convicts is that they have a low IQ and, in fact, that is why they have been caught. The sociopaths that populate prisons are there because they were stupid; they committed stupid crimes and did not/do not learn from their mistakes.


FBI illegally shared spy data on Americans with private parties - declassified memos

The FBI has illegally shared raw intelligence about Americans with unauthorized third parties and violated other constitutional privacy protections, according to newly declassified government documents that undercut the bureau's public assurances about how carefully it handles warrantless spy data to avoid abuses or leaks.

In his final congressional testimony before he was fired by President Trump this month, then-FBI Director James Comey unequivocally told lawmakers his agency used sensitive espionage data gathered about Americans without a warrant only when it was "lawfully collected, carefully overseen and checked."

Once-top secret U.S. intelligence community memos reviewed by Circa tell a different story, citing instances of "disregard" for rules, inadequate training and "deficient" oversight and even one case of deliberately sharing spy data with a forbidden party.

For instance, a ruling declassified this month by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) chronicles nearly 10 pages listing hundreds of violations of the FBI's privacy-protecting minimization rules that occurred on Comey's watch.


US military attempting to block Syrian government's access to ISIS-held gas, oilfields in Deir Ezzor area

© Google Maps
Syria's Conoco Gas Plant
Reports have emerged that the US military are attempting to block the Syrian government from reaching ISIS-held gas and oilfields in Deir Ezzor's countryside.

The US forces were reportedly airdropped on the Conoco Gas Plant to the northeast of Deir Ezzor city, as seen in the above map.

It has been confirmed however by Al-Masdar News CEO, Leith Fadel, that US troops were airdropped on the Taybeh Oil Field.


Kim Jong-Un delivers rare personal address directed at Donald Trump

© KCNA/Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the intermediate-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2's launch test
Kim Jong-Un's full statement is reproduced below.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-Un has offered a rare personal statement in the aftermath of the US President's remarks at the United Nations General Assembly which threatened the destruction of North Korea. Additionally, Donald Trump referred to the man North Koreans call the Great Marshall as "Rocket Man", in an apparent reference to a song by the musician Elton John.

Kim Jong-Un's personal reply is reproduced below in its entirety:

Comment: An insightful comment from one of the Duran's readers:
As KJU said, unprecedented. KJU was educated in Switzerland, and is no fool. It is his job to protect his nation against such an aggressive bully such as the US.
Let us not forget that the end-game is surrounding Russia and a backdoor into China, all part of the "full spectrum dominance" policy of the US. KJU just might be the man to trip them up, who knows.

Star of David

IDF supreme commander Gadi Eizenkot says 'Hezbollah is Israel's worst nightmare'

Israeli Chief of General Staff Gadi Eizenkot
Israeli Chief of General Staff, Gadi Eizenkot, said on Wednesday that Hezbollah has gained so much experience in the past years, especially as regards the fighting, that there is no point in underestimating it, noting the Lebanese movement has received massive military support from abroad and greatly improved its ways of collecting information, stressing that the movement is not only a political party, but also a sophisticated military force.

"Hezbollah is the enemy that worries us a lot more than any other enemy around us", Eizenkot said.

He stressed that the enemy that worries Israel the most right now is Hezbollah, and is at the absolute top of the chart, noting that Hezbollah and Hamas are both aware of the "bitter price" they will pay, should they ever infiltrate into Israel's territory.

"During the second Lebanese war we looked at Nasrallah as a target and tried to strike him from the beginning of the war", he mentioned.


EU Antitrust Battle: Google in weak position versus rivals

© Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg
How will the European Union's antitrust cop determine whether Google meets her demand? She'll see what its enemies say.

Alphabet Inc.'s Google has just one week to meet the deadline of an EU order to stop illegal conduct in the way it displays shopping results in search. After leveling a $2.7 billion fine in June, EU regulators may threaten more penalties against the search engine after the Sept. 28 deadline, EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in an interview at Bloomberg's New York headquarters on Thursday. If Google fails to give equal treatment for other shopping services, the company could face recurring fines of up to 5 percent of daily global revenue.

"It's not for us to approve how the remedy is put into effect," Vestager said. "It will be tested in the market." The most vocal complainants in the case are comparative shopping engines, which sell online placement to retailers. "If they are unhappy and it doesn't work, then we will start investigating," Vestager said. The Commission may back-date the fines.

A spokesman for Google declined to comment.

Comment: The EU seems to have the knives out for global digital companies.


China is furious, slams Trump's UN speech on North Korea

© YonhapNews
Global Times, the unofficial English language voice of the Chinese government, has published a strongly worded editorial which makes clear China's strong disapproval of the comments about North Korea made by US President Trump during his recent speech at the UN General Assembly.

In that speech US President Trump had these things to say about North Korea
The scourge of our planet today is a small group of rogue regimes that violate every principle on which the United Nations is based. They respect neither their own citizens nor the sovereign rights of their countries.

If the righteous many do not confront the wicked few, then evil will triumph. When decent people and nations become bystanders to history, the forces of destruction only gather power and strength.

No one has shown more contempt for other nations and for the wellbeing of their own people than the depraved regime in North Korea. It is responsible for the starvation deaths of millions of North Koreans, and for the imprisonment, torture, killing, and oppression of countless more.

We were all witness to the regime's deadly abuse when an innocent American college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to America only to die a few days later. We saw it in the assassination of the dictator's brother using banned nerve agents in an international airport. We know it kidnapped a sweet 13-year-old Japanese girl from a beach in her own country to enslave her as a language tutor for North Korea's spies.

If this is not twisted enough, now North Korea's reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life.

It is an outrage that some nations would not only trade with such a regime, but would arm, supply, and financially support a country that imperils the world with nuclear conflict. No nation on earth has an interest in seeing this band of criminals arm itself with nuclear weapons and missiles.

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That's what the United Nations is all about; that's what the United Nations is for. Let's see how they do.

It is time for North Korea to realize that the denuclearization is its only acceptable future. The United Nations Security Council recently held two unanimous 15-0 votes adopting hard-hitting resolutions against North Korea, and I want to thank China and Russia for joining the vote to impose sanctions, along with all of the other members of the Security Council. Thank you to all involved.

But we must do much more. It is time for all nations to work together to isolate the Kim regime until it ceases its hostile behavior.

Comment: One culture's rhetoric can be another culture's insult. Once words are uttered, they are hard to take back. It would serve the president to recognize differing cultural thresholds, identify the contexts and then speak accordingly. The critics are right. He was less than presidential on the global stage.