—–ON THE AGENDA—–
TRUMP WANTS SURPLUS MILITARY GEAR TO GO TO LOCAL POLICE
The Washington Post reports, “President Donald Trump plans to resume the transfer of surplus weapons, vehicles and other equipment from the nation’s military to its state and local law enforcement agencies, reviving a program which was sharply curtailed by President Barack Obama two years ago. The program launched in 1990 but was greatly limited after public reaction to images of heavily militarized police in the streets of Ferguson, Mo., and other sites of civil unrest.” According to The Washington Post, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions is set to announce the move Monday morning at the Fraternal Order of Police convention in Nashville”.
From The Washington Post.
TRUMP ORG SOUGHT MOSCOW TOWER DEAL AS TRUMP CAMPAIGNED
The Washington Post reports, “While Donald Trump was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, his company was pursuing a plan to develop a massive Trump Tower in Moscow, according to several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by Trump Organization lawyers.” And guess what? Felix Sater is back! He is the Chekhovian gun that goes off in the third act, it turns out! According to The Washington Post, Sater “predicted in a November 2015 email that he and Trump Organization leaders would soon be celebrating — both one of the biggest residential projects in real estate history and Donald Trump’s election as president, according to two of the people with knowledge of the exchange.” The Washington Post reports, “The negotiations for the Moscow project ended before Trump’s business ties to Russia had become a major issue in the campaign,” adding, “Discussions about the Moscow project began in earnest in September 2015, according to people briefed on the deal. An unidentified investor planned to build the project and, under a licensing agreement, put Trump’s name on it.”
From The Washington Post.
TRUMP PARDONS SHERIFF RESPONSIBLE FOR THE UNCONSCIONABLE
POLITICO reports, “President Donald Trump pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Friday, according to a White House announcement.” POLITICO adds, “The White House broke the news just after 8 p.m. and laid out the case for why the 85-year-old Arpaio — to some a symbol of animosity toward immigrants and Hispanics — deserved the president’s first such reprieve. The announcement highlighted Arpaio’s military service and ‘his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.’” POLITICO notes, “Pardons for individuals who haven’t been sentenced aren’t common,” and amazingly, “Arpaio never filed an application for the pardon with the Justice Department”. Tom Pepinsky of Cornell University told The Washington Post it highlighted “the hollowness of ‘law and order’ presidency.” Senator John McCain, a senator from Arizona where Arpaio was sheriff in the city of Phoenix, said much the same in a statement: “The president has the authority to make this pardon, but doing so at this time undermines his claim for the respect of rule of law as Mr. Arpaio has shown no remorse for his actions,” Fox News notes. The Washington Post also notes, “In recent decades, presidents have tended to issue controversial pardons at the end of their terms, not the beginning,” because obviously divisiveness is a non-ideal way to rule the nation and win elections for non-demagogues.
TRUMP ORDERS MILITARY TO DISCRIMINATE AGAINST TRANSGENDERS
Bloomberg reports, “Trump ordered the U.S. military on Friday to reject openly transgender people as new recruits but authorized Defense Secretary James Mattis to decide how to handle transgender personnel already serving in the armed forces.” According to Bloomberg, “Trump also ordered the military to stop paying for gender-reassignment surgical procedures on March 23 except to protect the health of someone who has already begun the process of reassigning sex”. Bloomberg adds, “The Defense Department will have six months to consider how to handle openly transgender people currently serving in the military under a memorandum that Trump signed on Friday.”
MATTIS TOLD TROOPS “HOLD THE LINE” UNTIL U.S. LESS DIVIDED
This is extremely serious. Axios, a POLITICO spinoff, writes, “Defense Secretary Mattis told troops in what appeared to be an impromptu speech to ‘hold the line until our country gets back to understanding and respecting each other.’” Defense One’s Kevin Baron spotted the video and said the remarks may have occurred during the Defense Secretary’s recent trip to Jordan. There you have it, the military sees a domestic civil war as its greatest threat. Former CIA officials have been saying it publicly for months, but now the military has too. Watch the video, even in a suit he’s a military man all right. The video cuts after he says, “Now listen to your NCOs.”
NEO-NAZI NO CREDENTIAL GORKA NO LONGER EMPLOYED BY WHITE HOUSE
POLITICO reports, “Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to the president who was closely aligned with former chief strategist Steve Bannon, was ousted from the White House, officials said Friday.” According to POLITICO, “In a resignation letter, published Friday night by The Federalist and confirmed by POLITICO, Gorka cited ‘forces’ that do not support President Donald Trump’s ‘MAGA promise’ as those that drove him out of the White House.” POLITICO adds, “a White House official indicated in a statement that Gorka had been forced out: ‘Sebastian Gorka did not resign, but I can confirm he no longer works at the White House,’” which is obvious. POLITICO adds, “It was not clear whether Gorka, like Bannon, would return to Breitbart News, where he previously served as national security editor.”
MUELLER PROBE ISSUES SUBPOENAS TO MANAFORT-TIED PR EXECS…
NBC News reports, “Special Counsel Robert Mueller issued grand jury subpoenas in recent days seeking testimony from public relations executives who worked on an international campaign organized by Paul Manafort”. According to NBC News, “This is the first public indication that Mueller’s investigation is beginning to compel witness testimony before the grand jury”. Of course, “It is also further indication that Manafort, Trump’s onetime campaign chairman, could be in serious legal jeopardy,” NBC News reports. “The executive said six firms participated in the public relations effort that Manafort coordinated, paid for by a Brussels-based non-profit called the European Center for a Modern Ukraine,” NBC News adds, noting, “The stated goal was to build support for Ukraine’s entry into the European Union.” NBC News reports, “Two of the firms, Podesta Group and Mercury LLC, worked in Washington with Manafort partner Rick Gates, according to lobbying disclosure records. Three other firms worked in Europe, the executive said. NBC News could not confirm the identity of those three.”
From NBC News.
… BUT ABC REPORTS FIRMS TIED TO FLYNN TOO!
ABC News reports, “Six public relations firms with ties to former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort or former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn have received subpoenas from special counsel Robert Mueller”.
From ABC News.
TILLERSON SAYS TRUMP “SPEAKS FOR HIMSELF”
POLITICO reports, “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson seemingly distanced himself Sunday morning from President Donald Trump’s widely criticized responses to a deadly white supremacist rally earlier this month in Virginia, telling ‘Fox News Sunday’ that there should be no doubt about the U.S. government’s commitment to long-held values but that ‘the president speaks for himself.’” This may be the most stunning moment in an interview with any administration officials to date. What Tillerson said in full is beyond revealing: “We express America’s values from the State Department. We represent the American people, we represent America’s values, our commitment to freedom, our commitment to equal treatment of people the world over and that message has never changed. I don’t believe anyone doubts the American people’s values or the commitment of the American government or the government’s agencies to advancing those values and defending those values.” As POLITICO reports, “‘And the president’s values?’ Fox anchor Chris Wallace followed up, to which the secretary of state replied: ‘The president speaks for himself, Chris.’” Holy shit.
CIA’S POMPEO POLITICAL LOYALTIES TO THE PRESIDENT NOT THE TRUTH
The Washington Post reports, “As CIA director, Mike Pompeo has taken a special interest in an agency unit that is closely tied to the investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, requiring the Counterintelligence Mission Center to report directly to him.” The Washington Post adds, “Officials at the center have, in turn, kept a watchful eye on Pompeo, who has repeatedly played down Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and demonstrated a willingness to engage in political skirmishes for President Trump.” A politically sensitive CIA unit is reporting directly to the director, a man whose loyalty they cannot confirm and are concerned about his loyalty to the president. That is remarkable stuff. According to The Washington Post, “Current and former officials said that the arrangement has been a source of apprehension among the CIA’s upper ranks and that they could not recall a time in the agency’s history when a director faced a comparable conflict.” The Washington Post notes Pompeo “met with Russian intelligence officials in Moscow in May”. The Washington Post adds the details that “the counterintelligence center is run by a veteran female CIA officer who has served extensively overseas in Europe, East Asia and Russia,” and “a former colleague” was said to have “described her as ‘someone who would not fall in line’ if she suspected interference in the center’s role.”
From The Washington Post.
CREDIT CRUNCH, PART I: RUSSIA CAN’T GET $5 BILLION ITALIAN LOAN
Reuters reports, “Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo has encountered problems syndicating a loan to Glencore and Qatar’s wealth fund to finance their purchase of a stake in the Kremlin-controlled oil major Rosneft because of new U.S. sanctions against Russia.” Uh oh! According to Reuters, “Western banks including from the United States and France have so far put on hold their participation in the syndication of the 5.2 billion euro ($6.13 billion) loan that Intesa provided last year.”
CREDIT CRUNCH, PART II: CITGO CAN’T PAY VENEZUELA’S PDVSA
The Hill reports, “new sanctions will block CITGO, an American oil company with more than $32 billion in yearly revenue, from sending profits to its corporate owner, state-owned Venezuelan oil company Petróleos de Venezuela,” also known by its acronym PDVSA. The Hill notes, “The sanctions did not target CITGO’s domestic operations themselves, although officials said that could change if a Rosneft, a Russian-owned oil company that’s listed been sanctioned itself, takes control of a majority stake in CITGO. Rosneft owns 49.9 percent of CITGO as collateral for a $1.5 billion Russian loan to Venezuela.”
From The Hill.
VOLKER FOR THE NUANCE ON UKRAINE
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Kurt Volker, the U.S. special envoy for efforts to end the conflict in Ukraine, says that the country is not ready yet to join NATO.” But this is a double edged sword cutting both ways as he also said, “The United States, the EU, and Russia should all understand that Ukraine is an independent country and it is up to Ukraine to determine when it will be ready to join NATO”. Which part do you think Russia heard and is choosing to isolate for its propaganda? And what do you imagine Ukraine heard and will choose to emphasize? The Financial Times adds Volker said, “US-Russian relations will be ‘crippled’ unless a solution is found”. This is diplomacy as diplomats do diplomacy and we have missed it so much in these recent months! Imagine a time when you did not worry about basic things you took for granted like a certain level of diplomatic competence and proficiency.
US TAKING OVER BALTIC AIR POLICING MISSION IN SEPTEMBER
Business Insider reports, “The U.S. will take over the Baltic air policing mission next month in an effort to guard airspace over Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia”. According to European Command, “Air Force F-15C Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom, will lead the next NATO Baltic Air Policing rotation at Šiauliai Air Base, Lithuania”.
From Business Insider.
USS PORTER ENTERS THE BLACK SEA
Stars and Stripes reports, “The USS Porter is training with the Romanian navy this week as part of its mission to augment security in the Black Sea region, where tensions remain high because of Russia’s intervention in Ukraine.” Recall, “speaking in Ukraine on Thursday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that countering Russian aggression against Ukraine was a priority. Mattis condemned Russia’s seizure of Crimea, saying it and undermines the region’s stability,” Stars and Stripes notes.
From Stars and Stripes.
SPECIAL COUNSEL LOOKS AT FLYNN’S HELP TO OBTAIN HILLARY EMAILS
The Wall Street Journal reports, “Special counsel Robert Mueller is examining what role, if any, former national security adviser Mike Flynn may have played in a private effort to obtain Hillary Clinton’s emails from Russian hackers.” According to The Wall Street Journal, “The effort to seek out hackers who were believed to have stolen Mrs. Clinton’s emails,” was led by the late Peter W. Smith, who committed suicide in May with a note, “NO FOUL PLAY INVOLVED WHATSOEVER” in a hotel room near the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. His death came just days after speaking with a Wall Street Journal reporter about the private effort.
From The Wall Street Journal.
—–KNOW YOUR ENEMY—–
TIMOTHY SNYDER ON TRUMP, “LAW + ORDER,” + MORAL RELATIVISM
Slate interviews Timothy Snyder, Yale University scholar of twentieth century tyranny. What he has to say outlines the effectiveness of active measures, stage two: demoralization of the population. Stage one is bombarding a nation with racist, hate-filled propaganda and state three is actually and successfully capturing the state. Mechanisms such as foreign policy, defense and the economy are required to be captured for this last stage to be complete. In Snyder’s words, “the moral effect that his presence would have.” According to Snyder, “This works three ways. It works by what Trump does and says. For example, the outrageous things he says about the press and his obsession with violence. It also works by the things he doesn’t say and the things he doesn’t condemn. ‘On the one hand and on the other hand’ is a way to destroy values and virtues, because if the leader of the country does not have a firm opinion about good and evil then it becomes very hard for other people to have firm opinions about good and evil.” Snyder adds, “The second big trend is that we are hanging by our teeth to the rule of law,” noting, “rule of law is what gives us a chance to rebuild the system after this is all done.”
BUILD THE WALL AGAINST ALT-RUSSIA
Business Insider reports, “Vilnius announced in January that it would reinforce its Kaliningrad border with a static barrier: a 6-foot-high fence alongside the Ramoniškiai border crossing. Built with NATO funds, the barrier will sit opposite a barbed-wire fence built by Russia five years ago.” Construction began in June and ‘is supposed to be finished by end of this year,’” Business Insider notes. It won’t stop anything and Lithuanians are particularly fatalistic about their prospects were there to be a Russian invasion and occupation. It is not as if they have not seen this movie before, to devastating consequence.
From Business Insider.
BANNON SAYS “WE WILL NEVER TURN ON” TRUMP
That must be the Breitbart “we,” as opposed to the royal “we”. According to CNN, “Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is vowing he will ‘never turn’ on his former boss.” Read as a double entendre makes this more fun. However, Bannon added, “we are never going to let him take a decision that hurts him.” CNN reports, “Bannon has vowed to use the site — which he has termed a ‘killing machine’ — to target his rivals at the White House and continue to keep up pressure on Trump and the White House to make good on Trump’s campaign promises.” Bannon’s bravado would be fearsome if he were not such a fake and a loser. Note, “Some of Bannon’s ideological allies still remain at the White House, including his deputy, Julia Hahn, and the President’s senior policy adviser and top speechwriter, Stephen Miller. Both share much of Bannon’s nationalist ideology and hardline views on trade and immigration.” Spoiler-alert prediction: Miller is the next to go.
—–RADIO MOSCOW: STORIES FROM THEIR PRESS AND OURS—–
ACTIVIST GUARDING NEMTSOV MEMORIAL DIES AFTER FATAL BLOW
Meduza reports, “Several days after being attacked while guarding the makeshift memorial to Boris Nemtsov at the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, Ivan Skripnichenko has died, a fellow activist told the website Mediazona.” According to Meduza, “On the evening of August 15, Skripnichenko was reportedly guarding the memorial, which is regularly dismantled by city cleanup crews and pro-Kremlin thugs, when an unidentified man approached him and tried to speak to him. When Skripnichenko turned away, the man allegedly punched him in the nose. According to the blogger Ilya Varlamov, other activists overheard the assailant shout, ‘What, you don’t like Putin or something?’” Recall, “Nemtsov was shot and killed on February 27, 2015, while crossing Moscow’s Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge.” With him died the very last hope of anything resembling a free Russia under Putin. Nemtsov died in the shadow of the Kremlin.
LITHUANIA EXTENDS SCHOOL YEAR FOR NATIONAL DEFENSE, SEX ED CLASSES
The Baltic Times reports, “Lithuania’s new school year starting next week will be ten days longer and several new subjects, including national security and defense and sexuality and family life education, will be added to the curriculum”. According to The Baltic Times, “national security and defense education program, prepared jointly with the Defense Ministry, is being added as optional course for senior secondary school students.”
From The Baltic Times.
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