—–ON THE AGENDA—–
TILLERSON IN MOSCOW
Reuters reports before departing from the G7 in Lucca, Italy for Moscow, Russian Order of Friendship medal recipient and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters, “It is clear to us the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end”. Tillerson finger pointed and “said Russia had failed in its role as sponsor of a 2013 deal under which Assad promised to give up his chemical arsenal.” He also issued an ultimatum of sorts implying Russia must chose between Assad or the US (and will likely, hopefully lose both), according to the AP. Kremlin watchers “said Tillerson has no meeting scheduled with Putin this trip, although some Russian media have reported such a meeting may nevertheless take place.” TRUMPISTAN WATCH agrees totally likely, depends on the language coming out of Rex tomorrow and what sort of statement Putin wishes to send Washington, but would bet it’s a very likely probability. The Washington Post notes, “Tillerson is uniquely qualified to bring a stern warning to the Russians. As the chief executive of ExxonMobil, he negotiated a deal with the state-controlled gas company Rosneft, leading Putin to bestow the Order of Friendship on him,” but that said, “Tillerson gained a reputation for being willing to walk out on energy deals that did not meet his standards.” Early reports from the AP suggest Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov “accused the United States on Wednesday of carrying out an unlawful attack against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces as he opened a fraught meeting”.
STOLTENBERG + TRUMP JOINT PRESSER ANTICIPATED
NPR reports, “President Trump meets at the White House Wednesday with the secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg. Afterward, the two men will take questions from reporters,” which will be such a shit show, just wait and watch, or as people largely unaffected by the political situation here to date are fond of saying these days, “butter your popcorn”.
WHERE IS MY PAGE? UNDER FISA WARRANT
The Washington Post reports the “FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page,” which is very significant. A FISA warrant refers to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and “The judges who rule on” such “requests oversee the nation’s most sensitive national security cases, and their warrants are some of the most closely guarded secrets in the world of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence gathering. Any FISA application has to be approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department and the FBI.” Evidently Page gave the FBI “probable cause to believe,” he “was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia,” The Post reports citing anonymous U.S. officials. The Washington Post notes, “This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents.” While “Page has not been accused of any crimes,” it is possible “the Justice Department might later seek charges against him or others in connection with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.” According to the unnamed officials, “Page is the only American to have had his communications directly targeted with a FISA warrant in 2016 as part of the Russia probe”.
From The Washington Post.
MANAFORT OFF THE SHORE: AP CONFIRMS LEDGER PAYMENTS
The AP reports exclusively on “newly obtained” financial records confirming Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort received the payments detailed in “a handwritten ledger” documenting “off-the-books payments from a pro-Russian political party,” the Party of Regions, which included payments made to Manafort. In the past Manafort “has publicly questioned the ledger’s authenticity.” The financial records obtained by the AP show “that at least $1.2 million in payments listed in the ledger next to Manafort’s name were actually received by his consulting firm in the United States.” The new records reflect “payments in 2007 and 2009, providing the first evidence that Manafort’s firm received at least some money listed in the so-called Black Ledger.”
From The AP.
LIKE IVANKA, RUSSIA IS ALSO COMPLICIT
First The AP reported in the wee hours that some intelligence officials were blaming Syria for trying to cover up Assad’s use of chemical weapons. The Russians are bold and clumsy so like our election hacking or the mass arrests during protests, the cover up is pretty overt. However, what’s the evidence? An anonymous, again, intelligence official in the U.S. who said, “the presence of the [Russian] surveillance drone over the hospital couldn’t have been a coincidence, and that Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment.” Treating the info cautiously, the AP notes, “Another U.S. official cautioned that no final American determination has been made that Russia knew ahead of time that chemical weapons would be used,” especially since “Until Monday, U.S. officials had said they weren’t sure whether Russia or Syria operated the drone.” On Tuesday, The New York Times reports the White House officially accused Syria of involvement and engaging in a cover up last week, releasing a four page “strongly worded” declassified intelligence assessment. At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters, “It is very clear who planned this attack, who authorized this attack and who orchestrated this attack,” according to The AP. Putin cited similarities to the justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which is something Trump fell back on once upon too when he did not like what the U.S. intelligence community had to say about Russian hacking of the 2016 election.
MEANWHILE IN RUSSIA
Before we get to our next item where the White House engages in Holocaust denial, let’s pause to contemplate reports that gay Chechen men are being held in a former military base on the outskirts of a town called Argun approximately 19 kilometers from Grozny, the regional capital of Chechnya, according to The Telegraph. There they are “ imprisoned and tortured in illegal detention facilities, human rights groups believe.” Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta “published reports suggesting that the Chechen government ordered a ‘prophylactic sweep’ of suspected gay men men which ‘went as far as real murders’.” And “One former inmate of the Argun facility who spoke anonymously to the Russian LGBT Network said that he’d witnessed the mass torture of suspected homosexuals in commandant’s office.” The response of regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s spokesman is chilling: “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.”
From The Telegraph.
EVERY DAY IS HOLOCAUST DENIAL DAY AT THE WHITES ONLY HAUS
Because the Whites Only Haus is always want for an occasion to say something totally ridiculously insanely racist these days to play to the outrage-sphere of the internet and their base of genuine racists, misogynists, and klansmen, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said some insane shit about the Holocaust. Actual quotes: “Someone who is despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” and Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad is doing,” because you know what are Jews really? He must be accustomed to the new Whites Only Haus standards defining what consists of one’s “own people”. Consider the company Spicer keeps these days and this mistake is natural even. He also referred to “Holocaust centers” where presumably these non-German others were given a place to sleep and a shower? It seems pretty clear he meant concentration camps but does he think Zyklon B is aromatherapy? Why the hell is this person the public face of the highest office in the land like why is a confirmed Nazi the president’s counterterrorism advisor or Trump’s chief strategist basically the Julius Streicher of our time? The only reward was a gif of reporters Ashley Parker and April Ryan reacting to that shit in the White House press briefing room. So someone give Sean Spicer and these two a T-shirt “the White House said slavery is work that makes you frei,” we mean free, “and all I got was this lousy gif!” Oh and Spicer apologized to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he was “obviously trying to make a point” and “frankly” he used “an insensitive reference to the Holocaust”. Ongoing proof that Trump cannot love his Nazis and hate the gas. Also, it’s Passover, why even go there? The Whites Only Haus: proving every day white trash is not about money at all, it’s about the nothing on the inside.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
DECONFLICTION JUNCTION, WHAT’S YOUR FUNCTION?
The Washington Post reports as Rex Tillerson arrives in Moscow about the ostensible end of the deconfliction agreement in the skies over Syria. “The suspension of that agreement does not mean Russian air defense batteries will shoot down incoming missiles in the event of another U.S. strike, but it will not prevent Syria from defending itself,” Viktor Ozerov, the head of the defense and security committee of the Russian parliament’s upper house, told the Post. Realistically and broadly this can be interpreted to mean that Syria could strike back by striking at Israel. As far as Russian strategic interests are concerned, “Russia would defend itself,” Ozerov told Russian state-run Interfax, “to ensure the safety of air bases and supply bases in Tartus wherever a threat originated: by land, air or sea.” One thing is clear, the Russian exit strategy is as flimsy as the American one. So deconfliction junction, what’s your function?
From The Washington Post.
OBAMA WILL APPEAR IN GERMANY AS TWITLER IS IN BRUSSELS
More details are emerging on Obama’s scheduled appearance in Germany in May, his first major appearance since leaving office. It seems the last real American president Barack Obama “will travel to Germany for the launch of a summer of special events to mark the 500th anniversary of the Protestant church,” which is perhaps the best way ever to troll the domestic racist WASP and Evangelical crowd one could envision. The Independent is reporting Obama “will arrive in Germany on the same day as his successor Donald Trump is due in Brussels for a meeting with other NATO leaders – the first scheduled foreign visit for the President since taking office.” Wow, thank you! That’s such a gift, all of it. It gets better, “He and Ms Merkel will speak on a purpose-built stage at the historic Brandenberg Gate, Berlin’s most prominent monument, which stands as a symbol of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War when Germany was divided into East and West by the Berlin Wall.” Conclusion: there may be a god who answers political prayers even at the darkest hour.
From The Independent.
The AP reports, “A center to combat such things as disinformation and fake news will be built in Finland following an agreement Tuesday of nine countries from the European Union and NATO.” The Finnish government will support the work of the countries “Britain, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden and the United States” in order “to set up the so-called ‘hybrid threat’ center in Helsinki”. Accordingly, “The center will become operational later this year and will initially have a budget of 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million) and be staffed by a group of experts and reasearchers [sic] from the founding members.” It has a name: “the European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats,” which needs a better acronym than ECECHT. Currently there is a cyber defense center in Estonia and a strategic communications center NATO runs in Latvia that will work closely with the new center. The AP also reminds us that Baltic and Nordic countries have been on the frontline of the sort of hybrid warfare that was employed against the American elections for far longer (see: Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtan). Reuters reports Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini said, “The use of hybrid strategies puts the internal cohesion and resilience of our societies to the test … What is needed in response is not only state, but societal resilience, a comprehensive approach to security.”
NATO REQUESTS OF ROMANIA ABILITY TO HOST CI CENTER
Balkan Insight reports, “NATO has asked to establish a counterintelligence centre in Bucharest to act against ‘reported threats’ and to support alliance structures in the country against espionage and sabotage by hostile force.” In May, NATO will begin hosting fighter jets in Romania “with Britain the first alliance member to provide aircraft and personnel for NATO’s Southern Air Policing mission,” operating from a base near Constanta and in June, Romania will host the largest NATO exercise in the country’s history involving 25,000 troops from 11 countries. Romania’s parliament is expected to approve the request “after it passed through the defence commissions of both chambers.” NATO sent the formal request to establish the center late last month.
From Balkan Insight.
MEDIA EXEC WARS: KUSHNER V. BANNON
So the popular mass narrative last week was Jared and Bannon were, like, not happy with each other because of something that, like, happened in an earlier episode… Yeah so America really relates to everything that comes through the teevees now like it’s reality TV and you can pretty much blame every aspect of our culture for that, but it makes us like any other Balkan nation. Well, to adultify this whole immature garbage because some Americans evidently like to pretend they can do adulting (by and large they do live in the DC metro area), The Washington Post reports on the differences between Jared and Bannon as media executives. The photographic evidence of #KushnerAtWar’s Dukakis moment should make plenty apparent that only one of these two men is a student of media. Indeed, “Kushner seemed to regard the Observer as just another asset in his diverse portfolio, with no special significance; Bannon considered Breitbart a force for imposing his nationalistic vision on a disgruntled electorate.” Since “Kushner did not devote himself to shaping the Observer into a political tool” it cannot be leveraged against Bannon and has much less clout among his midtown office readers who usually read it among many other papers than the conspiracy prone shut-ins that defer to Breitbart conspiracies over their own ones concocted somewhere along the rural plain. By contrast, “Bannon wrote regularly” and “hosted a daily talk show” on Breitbart “News”. Now he is so reticient! He also “threw himself into his mission to establish Breitbart as the voice of populism in the United States.” We are all poorer for that mission. And newsmen, remember this, growth is not always good: “While Kushner sought to shrink his newsroom, in the name of efficiency, Bannon hunted for obsessive types to add to his.” If you are beyond our borders you will likely wish to remain there.
From The Washington Post.
WHY IS JULIAN THE JUGGERNAUT GETTING PRIME REAL ESTATE?
What is The Washington Post thinking giving primo editorial space to narcissistic man-child and Russian propaganda asset Julian Assange, who also happens to head an organization called WikiLeaks from the basement of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London? It better be under the guiding philosophy of “know your enemy”. Assange clearly fancies himself as much more than a basement outlet. He has pretentious visions in that he believes his “motive is identical to that claimed by the New York Times and The Post — to publish newsworthy content.” So it just happens to pretty much exclusively benefit the Russian state and he just happens to have run election interference for the Russian state in the 2016 election, but identical! He also quotes Eisenhower (you can guess what) and ol’ TJ with little transition into his own nonsense as to make these homages to American decency not simply superfluous but also highly indecent. He also in boyish fashion seems to say a sorry of sorts, as in sorry he was so impetuous to fall into his predicament, so not actually sorry just keenly aware of his own fate. He writes, “I harbor an overwhelming admiration for both America and the idea of America.” Gather your puke buckets, as you may need three or four if you must settle in to read this garbage.
From The Washington Post.
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