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Sat, 10 Dec 2016
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A test for Trump: Republicans ready to launch wide-ranging probe of Russia

© AP Photo/Evan Vucci
Leading Senate Republicans are preparing to launch a coordinated and wide-ranging probe into Russia's alleged meddling in the U.S. elections and its potential cyberthreats to the military, digging deep into what they view as corrosive interference in the nation's institutions.

Such an aggressive approach puts them on a direct collision course with President-elect Donald Trump, who downplays the possibility Russia had any role in the November elections — arguing that a hack of the Democratic National Committee emails may have been perpetrated by "some guy in his home in New Jersey." The fracture could become more prominent after Trump is inaugurated and begins setting foreign policy. He has already indicated that the country should "get along" with Russia since the two nations have many common strategic goals.

But some of Trump's would-be Republican allies on Capitol Hill disagree. Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (Ariz.) is readying a probe of possible Russian cyber-incursions into U.S. weapons systems, and he said he has been discussing the issue with Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (N.C.), with whom he will be "working closely" to investigate Russia's suspected interference in the U.S. elections and cyberthreats to the military and other institutions. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has been apprised of the discussions. Burr did not respond to requests for comment.

Comment: A real battle field is brewing in the US on what to do about Russia. Looks like nothing but trouble ahead.


Joe Biden hails Trudeau and Merkel as last liberal leaders standing

© Justin Tang/The Canadian Press
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, and U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden arrive at a state dinner on in Ottawa, on Dec. 8, 2016.
The world will look to Germany and Canada for leadership as the political status-quo is upended across the West, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden said ahead of Donald Trump's inauguration.

Visiting Ottawa before he leaves office, the vice-president called on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau - who is beginning his second year in power - to set an example on the international stage. His message comes as populist movements and anti-trade sentiment stir political upheaval, particular in the European Union.

"I've never seen Europe engaged in as much self-doubt," Biden said Thursday evening at a dinner hosted by Trudeau. "The world's going to spend a lot of time looking to you, prime minister, as we see more and more challenges to the liberal international order since the end of World War II .- you and Angela Merkel."


Obama orders 'full review' of election cyberattacks, results not to be made public

© Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
President Obama has ordered US spy agencies to prepare "a full review" of election-linked cyberattacks, but the public may never see it. The report should be ready before Obama vacates office and it is likely to be disclosed only to "a range of stakeholders."

"The president has directed the intelligence community to conduct a full review of what happened during the 2016 election process," presidential aide Lisa Monaco told reporters at a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor. She said the review's aim is "to capture lessons learned from that."

"That's going to be first and foremost a determination that's made by the intelligence community," she said.

Despite the headline-capturing hacking, which the US intelligence authorities blamed on Russia, the public may never have a chance to review the findings.


Moscow and Havana sign 6 agreements including defense technology cooperation

© Sergey Mamontov / Sputnik
Vice President of the Council of Ministers of Cuba Ricardo Cabrisas Ruiz, right, and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin during the signing ceremony for a program of technological cooperation between the two countries in the sphere of defense in Havana.
Cuban Vice President Ricardo Cabrisas and Russian deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin have signed a new defense cooperation program which will last until 2020, along with six other treaties covering technology, aviation, medicine and railroad transport.

The defense agreement would largely be of a technical and advisory nature, rather than one which includes military supplies or boots-on-the-ground, the Russian deputy prime minister said.

"Since Russia long ago arrived at the program-target method in defense issues, we have our own methodology, experts knowing how to ensure short-term and near-term planning. This kind of assistance will be provided. So, this is more of a methodological assistance, which will help shape the long-term capacity planning program aimed at the modernization of the armed forces," Rogozin told Sputnik.

"It will not be supplies, but ... [rather] this kind of methodological assistance," he emphasized.


Western propaganda outlet Radio Free Europe claims rise in Russian US asylum seekers due to persecution, but offers no proof

Radio Free Europe informs us the number of Russian applications for US asylum has surged again in 2016:
Russian citizens filed 1,912 new U.S. asylum application in the fiscal year ending September 30, up 31 percent compared to 2015 and 164 percent since 2012, when Putin was again elected president following a four-year stint as prime minister, new official statistics show.

RFE/RL obtained the U.S. Department of Homeland Security data after filing a request under the Freedom Of Information Act.
RFE also has an explanation albeit one it admits is pure conjecture based on "anecdotal evidence":
While the data does not indicate the basis for applicants' persecution claims, immigration attorneys link this multiyear surge to policies in Russia seen as discriminatory toward sexual minorities, a squeezing of dissent during Putin's third term, and widespread corruption.

Anecdotal evidence and internal accounting from lawyers working with sexual minorities suggest a sharp rise in the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals from Russia seeking U.S. asylum since Putin signed a 2013 law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors.


After Sleaford by-election slump, Labour party warned of impending 'electoral disaster'

© Peter Nicholls / Reuters
The Leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn
A Tory by-election win that saw Labour's share of the vote slashed has raised concern about the future of the party, with a senior Labour MP labeling the result an "electoral disaster."

Conservative candidate Caroline Johnson easily retained the seat of Sleaford and North Hykeham in Lincolnshire with a 13,144 majority. The by-election was triggered after Tory MP Stephen Phillips resigned over "irreconcilable policy differences" with the government.

Heart - Black

The Transformation of the American Left and Why Hillary Clinton Would Have Destroyed the World

I didn't really know how I felt about the US presidential election until the day before, when I thought Hillary might actually win. It was a heavy and distressed feeling. It isn't easy to explain everything which informed that feeling, and I doubt even a long answer would be enough to convince an ardent 'progressive'. The issues in which Clinton has played a leading role involve intensive social programming and mountains of lies from the media, State Department, and those who mindlessly repeat their talking points.

Many progressives have expressed (and kept on expressing) their shock at how Trump could have won. To them, Trump represents all that is wrong with our world. In their eyes he's a racist, xenophobic, sexist homophobe who brings out the worst in people. But the world is not as black and white as it is often presented. It takes a sincere desire to uncover the truth, and that includes taking a look at our long-held beliefs, which takes time and requires a sincere effort to understand the world. It requires seriously considering the possibility that we're wrong, that we don't have the entire picture, and that perhaps our strongly held opinions are not as justified as we think. That's hard.

The ways in which Hillary Clinton would have been much more destructive than Trump are legion. She's been involved in more scandals during her public life than (almost) any other US politician (and that says a lot!). There was Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate, Chinagate, Vince Foster's mysterious death, her assistant Huma Abedin's family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Benghazi. Then there were the emails that led to dozens more scandals involving the sending of classified material over unsecured servers, DNC voter fraud, getting presidential debate questions from CNN, Clinton Foundation donors getting special access to the State Department, and the millions upon millions donated from terrorist-sponsors like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Oh, and in case you were lucky enough to forget, there was that super creepy 'spirit-cooking' thing involving the Podestas. The list goes on and on, but even these signs of deep corruption don't describe the worst of Hillary Clinton.

Star of David

Israel does everything we accuse Russia of doing

The drama surrounding allegations that the internet is awash with "fake news" is being promoted by the so-called mainstream media which certainly has a lot to answer for when it comes to producing material that does not pass the smell test. Does the name Judith Miller ring any bells? And the squeaks of rage coming from the U.S. Congress over being lied to is also something to behold as the federal government has been acting in collusion with the media to dish up falsehoods designed to start wars since the time of the Spanish-American conflict in 1898, if not before.

The fake news saga is intended to discredit Donald Trump, whom the media hates mostly because they failed to understand either him or the Americans who voted for him in the recent election. You have to blame somebody when you are wrong so you invent "fake news" as the game changer that explains your failure to comprehend simple truths. To accomplish that, the clearly observable evidence that the media was piling on Donald Trump at every opportunity has somehow been deliberately morphed into a narrative that it is Trump who was attacking the media, suggesting that it was all self-defense on the part of the Rachel Maddows of this world, but anyone who viewed even a small portion of the farrago surely will have noted that it was the Republican candidate who was continuously coming under attack from both the right and left of the political-media spectrum.

Comment: Essential reading re: the Anti-Semitism Bill: U.S. State Department: Defining Anti-Semitism


U.S. State Department: Defining Anti-Semitism

"Anti-Semitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of anti-Semitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities." --Working Definition of Anti-Semitism by the European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia

Contemporary Examples of Anti-Semitism
  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews (often in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion).
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as a collective—especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.

  • Comment: Hmm... Manny Friedman: "Jews DO Control the Media". Joel Stein: "Who runs Hollywood? C'mon". Rob Eshman: "We are blessed to be living at a time of unparalleled Jewish power and wealth."

  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, the state of Israel, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.

  • Comment: But it's okay to blame Muslims as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoings committed by a single Muslim or group of Muslims... Or at least, it's not as bad?

  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interest of their own nations.

  • Comment: Like this, from the Jewish Forward or this from True Torah Jews?

Comment: On December 1, the U.S. Senate passed the "Anti-Semitism Awareness Act" bill. For its definition of anti-Semitism, it refers to the State Dept. fact sheet above.


Tensions mounting: South Korea to use EMP weapon in fight against North's drones

© Kim Hong-Ji / Reuters
South Korea will soon put to use a powerful weapon in the fight against North Korean drones - the electromagnetic pulse (EMP), its military reported.

The directional, high-powered EMP generator has already been developed, according to Yonhap news agency.

It was presented last week at a conference hosted by the Korea Institute of Military Science and Technology, and developed by the Agency for Defense Development (ADD). It is now up to Seoul to figure out how to adjust it for use against Pyongyang's UAVs.

An electromagnetic pulse sends out a wave that disables all electrical equipment it targets.

Comment: Tension grows between North and South Korea: US Empire is the real enemy of both