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Fri, 23 Feb 2018
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Kim Dotcom to Trump: "The DNC hack wasn't even a hack - I know who did it and why"

Kim Dotcom
© AFP Photo / Marty Melville
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom
Kim Dotcom has once again chimed in on the DNC hack, following a Sunday morning tweet from President Trump clarifying his previous comments on Russian meddling in the 2016 election.


Comment: Of course the DNC was not 'hacked'. Robert Mueller knows it. Notice how the 'Russiagate' narrative has shifted from the DNC 'hacks', to 'collusion' between the Trump team and Russia, and now it is about Russian 'trolls'.


Telephone

In talks with Erdogan, Rouhani warns of plots to disintegrate regional states, and attempts to establish puppet governments

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan
© Photo by president.ir
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (R) and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan attend a press conference in Tehran on October 4, 2017
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has warned against plots to disintegrate regional states in talks with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, calling for enhanced cooperation to eliminate such security concerns.

The region is today witnessing "plots to partition [regional states] and attempts to establish puppet governments, and we must make efforts to resolve these security concerns through all-out cooperation," Rouhani told Erdogan in a phone conversation on Monday.

During the talks, the two presidents exchanged views on the latest developments in the region, including the Syria situation.

Comment: See also: Kurdish official claims deal reached for Syrian army to enter Afrin - Putin, Erdogan discussing situation - UPDATE


Gear

Lebanese army ready to confront any 'Israeli aggression at all costs'

Lebanese army soldiers
© Mohamed Azakir / Reuters
Lebanese army soldiers
The Lebanese army has reaffirmed its readiness to confront the "Israeli aggression" by any means at its disposal if the ongoing disputes and already tense relations between the neighbors escalate into an armed confrontation.

"I reaffirm again our categorical rejection of the Israeli enemy infringing on Lebanon's sovereignty and its sacred right to exploit all its economic resources," General Joseph Aoun said, as quoted by the Lebanese army. "The army will not spare any method available to confront any Israeli aggression, whatever that costs."

Earlier this month, Lebanon signed its first contracts to explore two offshore zones for oil and gas. One of the parcels included exploration rights to the so-called Block 9, a triangle off the coast that is around 860 square kilometers - which Israel claims the rights to. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman described the move as "very provocative," noting that Block 9 falls under Tel Aviv's sovereignty. As Israel continues to assert its rights over the continental shelf, a consortium of international energy companies, including Italy's Eni, France's Total and Russia's Novatek, have already received approval from Beirut to explore the two blocks off the coast.

Comment: See also:


Bulb

Mueller's latest indictment further discredits the dodgy Trump dossier

christopher steele

Christopher Steele
As the days since Mueller's latest indictment have passed, the failure of his investigation to make any claim of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia has begun to sink in, even amongst some of Donald Trump's most bitter enemies.

Even the Guardian - arguably the most fervid of Donald Trump's British media critics, and the most vocal supporter of the Russiagate conspiracy theory - has grudgingly admitted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has "once again failed to nail Donald Trump"
There will be understandable disappointment in many quarters that the latest indictments delivered by Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, once again failed to nail Donald Trump. Although the charges levelled against 13 Russians and three Russian entities are extraordinarily serious, they do not directly support the central claim that Trump and senior campaign aides colluded with Moscow to rig the vote.
The Times of London meanwhile has admitted that the latest indictment contains "no smoking gun"
The Department of Justice, however, offered no confirmation to those still smarting from the election in Nov­em­ber 2016, who believe that, in the absence of Russian interference, Hillary Clinton would be in the White House today. Friday's allegations offered no evidence that the outcome had been affected. Sir John Sawers, former head of MI6, said yesterday that Donald Trump's victories in the key swing states were his own.
There was further comfort for Mr Trump, which he was quick to celebrate with a tweet. The investigation uncovered no evidence "that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity". That includes, so far, anybody involved in the Trump campaign. If there is a smoking gun it has yet to emerge, though Robert Mueller's investigation will grind on. Presi­dent Vladimir Putin is a malign and dangerous mischief maker. It has not been proved that he is an evil genius with the ability to swing a US election.
In fact the latest indictment when considered properly is a further huge nail in the coffin of the Russiagate conspiracy theory and in the already disintegrating credibility of the Trump Dossier, which is the foundation document for that theory.

Comment: It's past time that Russiagaters are seen as the political equivalent of flat-earthers.


Family

Duma Deputy Natalia Poklonskaya: Russia defends traditional values - children should have a mother and father

natalia poklonskaya
The Duma Deputy and former prosecutor general of the Crimea, Natalia Poklonskaya, has given journalists an interview in relation to her new book, and in her view, the way that Russia defends traditional values.

- Natalia Vladimirovna, they say that there is a bill in the works, prohibiting surrogate motherhood. Is this true?

- The bill was submitted for consideration by a member of the Federation Council. Yes, it is proposed to prohibit surrogate motherhood. To consult with constituents, I launched a poll in my social networks. I asked people to express their opinion. But all of a sudden - everything became skewed in the press. They said: "Poklonskaya wants to prohibit surrogate motherhood." No, Poklonskaya wants to know people's opinion, and by the way, people in general support the ban on surrogate motherhood.

Russia is a country that defends traditional values ​​and morality. In Europe, children have a "parent one" and "parent two" as opposed to a mother and father. Gender equality. Where is the spirituality of the family? In Russia, we don't have this - in Ukraine, we don't have this.

We have a Mom and Dad. And this must be protected. These are our traditions, our values. Therefore, people voted against surrogacy. There are medical conditions when parents cannot have children, so they turn to surrogacy - but that's a different matter. Overall, the public wants to defend their moral and traditional values.

Comment: Unfortunately, divorce rates are still high in Russia, so they are not entirely free from the corrosive effect of the feminist assault on the family. But at least this is a step in the right direction. Ironically, the ex-communist state of Russia is strengthening the private sphere of the family, while the "free" West is doing everything it can do destroy private life and extend the reach of the state. For more information on these dynamics, see Stephen Baskerville's The New Politics of Sex: The Sexual Revolution, Civil Liberties, and the Growth of Governmental Power.


Map

Orban: 'Christianity is Europe's last hope' - Calls for global anti-migration alliance in run-up to 2018 election

orban
© AP Photo/Ronald Zak
Hungarian leader Viktor Orban called on Sunday for a global alliance against migration as his right-wing populist Fidesz party began campaigning for an April 8 election in which it is expected to win a third consecutive landslide victory.

Popular at home but increasingly at odds politically and economically with mainstream European Union peers, Orban has thrived on external controversy, including repeated clashes with Brussels and lately the United Nations.

Those conflicts, mostly centered on migration since people fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa flooded into Europe in 2015, have intensified as the elections approach and Orban poses as a savior of Europe's Christian nations.

"Christianity is Europe's last hope," Orban told an audience of party faithful at the foot of the Royal Castle in Budapest. With mass immigration, especially from Africa, "our worst nightmares can come true. The West falls as it fails to see Europe being overrun."

Comment: Orban is more correct that his enemies are in the "West". Christianity unifies European cultures, whether they want to admit it or not. Without that shared identity, Europeans' only options are to adopt some doctrinaire ideology (a la Fascism or Communism) or to fracture into increasingly polarized groups at war with each other and with nothing to unify them. The article states that Orban wants "ethnic homogeneity". That may be desirable to many people, but it isn't necessary. A shared cultural identity can flatten out the negative effects of mixed ethnicities. But it requires an actual shared cultural identity - i.e., integration/assimilation. That's probably the biggest problem with the migrant crisis: governments and the migrants themselves have no wish for integration into a shared cultural identity.


Attention

Nunes: FBI and DOJ perps may be put on trial

Nunes
© Crooks and Liars
House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes
House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes has stated that "DOJ and FBI are not above the law," and could face legal consequences for alleged abuses of the FISA court.

Throwing down the gauntlet on alleged abuse of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) by the Department of Justice and the FBI, House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) stated that there could be legal consequences for officials who may have misled the FISA court. "If they need to be put on trial, we will put them on trial," he said. "The reason Congress exists is to oversee these agencies that we created."

Nunes Attkinson
© The Conservative Treehouse
Devin Nunes and Sharyl Attkinson
Nunes took this highly unusual, no-holds-barred stance during an interview with Emmy-award winning investigative journalist Sharyl Attkisson, which aired on Sunday.

Attkisson said she had invited both Nunes and House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) but that only Nunes agreed. She asked him about Schiff's charge that Nunes' goal was "to put the FBI and DOJ on trial." What followed was very atypical bluntness - candor normally considered quite unacceptable in polite circles of the Washington Establishment.

Rather than play the diplomat and disavow what Schiff contended was Nunes' goal, Nunes said, in effect, let the chips fall where they may. He unapologetically averred that, yes, a criminal trial might well be the outcome. "DOJ and FBI are not above the law," he stated emphatically. "If they are committing abuse before a secret court getting warrants on American citizens, you're darn right that we're going to put them on trial."

Comment: Finally, signs of momentum to address the criminal actions and abuses by intelligence and legal agencies. These are strong statements from Mr. Nunes, signaling a rough road ahead.


USA

Iran FM says Americans are 'obsessed', act out short-sighted self-interest in Syria

trump syria
© WRDW.com
US actions in Syria appear to be driven by "obsession" and overt "profiteering," Iran's foreign minister said, warning that Washington could cause long-term damage to the region.

The criticism of Washington came from Javad Zarif on Monday at a discussion on Middle East issues and Russia's role in the region, which was hosted by Moscow's Valdai Club. The Iranian official expressed grave concerns at the ongoing escalation of tension in Syria. "We see a new wave of foreign intervention and occupation, particularly by the United States, driven by - I don't know how to call it, obsession?" he said, adding that Washington's goal was "profiteering, [and] short-sighted geo-economic interest to capture territory."

Zarif blamed Washington's arming of Kurdish militias for provoking Turkey into launching a military operation in Syria, which, he said, was a bad move itself. "The use of proxies by the United States is dangerous for the proxies, for the United States and for the region. It is creating momentum in our region, which will be long-lasting and which will have consequences for years to come.

Comment: The confluence of powers and agendas in Syria challenges each faction with moving targets, shifting alliances and continual complexities. Perhaps this combination of conflicts will go down in history as the most layered, fragmented and unsolvable war of wills to date. The only way for the US to save face and remain a viable player is to pack up and go home before more damage is done.


Snakes in Suits

Straight arrow? What about Mueller's forgotten surveillance crime spree

crooked arrowMueller
© www.cnn.com/KJN
When Robert Mueller was appointed last May as Special Counsel to investigate Trump, Politico Magazine gushed that "Mueller might just be America's straightest arrow - a respected, nonpartisan and fiercely apolitical public servant whose only lifetime motivation has been the search for justice." Most of the subsequent press coverage has shown nary a doubt about Mueller's purity. But, during his 11 years as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mueller's agency routinely violated federal law and the Bill of Rights.

Mueller took over the FBI one week before the 9/11 attacks and he was worse than clueless after 9/11. On Sept. 14, 2011, Mueller declared, "The fact that there were a number of individuals that happened to have received training at flight schools here is news, quite obviously. If we had understood that to be the case, we would have - perhaps one could have averted this." Three days later, Mueller announced: "There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country." His protestations helped the Bush administration railroad the Patriot Act through Congress, vastly expanding the FBI's prerogatives to vacuum up Americans' personal information.

Deceit helped capture those intrusive new prerogatives. The Bush administration suppressed until the following May the news that FBI agents in Phoenix and Minneapolis had warned FBI headquarters of suspicious Arabs in flight training programs prior to 9/11. A House-Senate Joint Intelligence Committee analysis concluded that FBI incompetence and negligence "contributed to the United States becoming, in effect, a sanctuary for radical terrorists." FBI blundering spurred the Wall Street Journal to call for Mueller's resignation, while a New York Times headline warned: "Lawmakers Say Misstatements Cloud F.B.I. Chief's Credibility."

Comment: For more background on Special Counsel Mueller, see also:


Star of David

Netanyahu: Israel could itself act against Iran's 'empire'

Zarif/Netanyahu
© Ronald Wittek/EPA/www.ndv.com
Iran FM Mohammad Javad Zarif • Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel could act against Iran itself, not just its allies in the Middle East, after border incidents in Syria brought the Middle East foes closer to direct confrontation.

Iran mocked Netanyahu's tough words, saying Israel's reputation for "invincibility" had crumbled after one of its jets was shot down following a bombing run in Syria.

In his first address to the annual Munich Security Conference, which draws security and defense officials and diplomats from across Europe and the United States, Netanyahu held up a piece of what he said was an Iranian drone that flew into Israeli airspace this month. "Israel will not allow the regime to put a noose of terror around our neck," he said. "We will act if necessary not just against Iran's proxies but against Iran itself."

For his part, Iran's Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, called Netanyahu's presentation "a cartoonish circus, which does not even deserve a response". "What has happened in the past several days is the so-called invincibility (of Israel) has crumbled," Zarif, who addressed the conference hours after Netanyahu, said, referring to the downing of the Israeli F-16, which crashed in northern Israel after a strike on Syrian air defenses.

"Once the Syrians have the guts to down one of its planes it's as if a disaster has happened," Zarif said, accusing Israel of using "aggression as a policy against its neighbors" by regularly carrying out incursions into Syria and Lebanon.

Comment: Brave, plucky Israel, going to war with the big bad guys all by itself...which it knows is a clear message to its US lackey and the NATO bunch. Choose the day, fire the shot and the puppets will show up.
See also: Netanyahu taunts Iranian FM at Munich Security Conference with drone fragment