(denoted with a *)





The AP reports, “Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced on Monday that Pompeo would travel to North Korea this week. The trip to Pyongyang will be Pompeo’s second as top U.S. diplomat and the first by a senior U.S. official since Trump’s historic meeting with Kim Jong Un in Singapore last month. The trip comes as concerns mount over the North’s willingness to follow through on the agreement signed by the two leaders.” The AP adds, “Pompeo last visited Pyongyang in May ahead of the Trump-Kim summit and traveled there secretly in early April while he was director of the CIA.”

From the AP.





CNN reports, “President Donald Trump plans to meet one-on-one with Vladimir Putin at the start of their July 16 summit in Helsinki, Finland, according to a person familiar with the plans, before allowing other aides to join the highly anticipated encounter with the Russian leader.” This is really the way to make the whole Russia collusion investigation thing go away. CNN adds, “At Trump and Putin’s first meeting, on the margins of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, a year ago, the only aide to accompany the President was then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, along with a US translator. The session went so long that first lady Melania Trump was sent in to try to cut it off. In a second conversation during dinner at the same summit, Trump was without a translator who spoke Russian, so instead relied on Putin’s. The men spoke for about an hour without any other aides present, officials said later.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “Russia and the United States have agreed that their top diplomats will meet after a summit between the two countries’ presidents scheduled for later this month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said.” There is currently no date or place planned for the Lavrov-Pompeo confab.

From CNN and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.



BBC News reports, “Pair found unconscious in Wiltshire poisoned with same nerve agent as ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, police say”. The Guardian adds, “Scientists at the government’s Porton Down defence laboratory were carrying out tests on Wednesday night to try to establish if a couple had been exposed to a nerve agent in Wiltshire. A park in Salisbury five minutes’ walk from the bench where the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed after a suspected Russian attack employing a nerve agent was one of at least seven areas cordoned off in the cathedral city and the nearby town of Amesbury.” The Guardian notes, “Some friends and neighbours of the couple, British nationals Dawn Sturgess, 44, from Salisbury, and Charlie Rowley, 45, of Amesbury, said they believed they had been exposed to a nerve agent. They remained critically ill at the Salisbury district hospital, where the Skripals were treated”. The Guardian adds a friend “said he was in Salisbury with the couple on Friday evening in locations close to some of the places associated with the Skripal case.”

From BBC News and The Guardian.



CNN reports, “the UK’s National Crime Agency is investigating” Arron Banks’ “financial support for the [Brexit] campaign and his contacts with Russian officials”. CNN adds, “The agency recently received an extensive archive of Banks’ emails and other documents,” and those documents “include descriptions of meetings with Russian diplomats and possible business opportunities in Russia.” CNN notes, “Banks’ financial support for Leave.EU in the runup to the 2016 vote made him the biggest individual donor in British political history. The group won the endorsement of the leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, one of the leading pro-Brexit campaigners. According to the latest accounts of Leave.EU, Banks’ loan has not been paid back.” CNN adds, “His emails were passed to the National Crime Agency by a third party. Sources have told CNN the documents have also been shared with the UK’s domestic intelligence service MI5 and, in the US, with Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee.” CNN continues, “In one email sent to the Russian mining magnate Siman Povarenkin in November 2015, Banks said he was ‘very bullish on gold so keen to have a look.’ He copied a wealthy business partner and fellow Brexit supporter, Jim Mellon, on the correspondence. Two months later, Banks wrote to an adviser with experience of Russian business deals, Nick van den Brul. Banks asked whether there was ‘any chance Andrew Umbers [another adviser] and myself can see you about the Russian Gold Play. I intend to pop in and see the [Russian] ambassador as well.’” CNN adds, “In April 2016, the correspondence shows Banks was offered an introduction by a business acquaintance to an ‘adventurous’ Russian gold miner seeking capital for a prospecting business in the west African state of Guinea.” While Banks denies he made any investments, “a fund linked to Jim Mellon did buy into the Alrosa offering. Based in the Isle of Man, a tax haven in the Irish Sea between the UK and Ireland, Mellon has long experience of investing in Russia. He held a minority stake in Charlemagne Capital, which successfully bid for shares in Alrosa when the Russian government sold part of the company in July 2016 for some $800 million.” CNN notes, “In August 2016, fresh from his victory in the EU referendum two months earlier, Farage appeared with Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Jackson, Mississippi, at the invitation of Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant.”

From CNN.


The AP
reports, “As a meeting last August in the Oval Office to discuss sanctions on Venezuela was concluding, President Donald Trump turned to his top aides and asked an unsettling question: With a fast unraveling Venezuela threatening regional security, why can’t the U.S. just simply invade the troubled country? The suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, both of whom have since left the administration.” The AP adds, “In an exchange that lasted around five minutes, McMaster and others took turns explaining to Trump how military action could backfire and risk losing hard-won support among Latin American governments to punish President Nicolas Maduro for taking Venezuela down the path of dictatorship”. The AP notes, “Trump pushed back. Although he gave no indication he was about to order up military plans, he pointed to what he considered past cases of successful gunboat diplomacy in the region, according to the official, like the invasions of Panama and Grenada in the 1980s.” The AP adds, “The next day, Aug. 11, Trump alarmed friends and foes alike with talk of a ‘military option’ to remove Maduro from power. The public remarks were initially dismissed in U.S. policy circles as the sort of martial bluster people have come to expect from the reality TV star turned commander in chief. But shortly afterward, he raised the issue with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos”. Remember believe the autocrat, take him at his word.

From the AP.


reports, “Embattled Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt directly appealed to President Donald Trump this spring to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and let him run the Department of Justice instead”. CNN adds, “In an Oval Office conversation with Trump, Pruitt offered to temporarily replace Sessions for 210 days under the Vacancies Reform Act, telling the President he would return to Oklahoma afterward to run for office.” CNN notes, “Advisers quickly shot down the proposal, but it came at a time when Trump’s frustration with Sessions over his decision to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia investigation had resurfaced.” The White House would not comment whereas Pruitt denied the story. CNN recalls, “Pruitt, who is facing at least 14 federal probes, and his scandals have plagued the administration for months. On Monday, it was revealed that he and his aides kept ‘secret’ calendars and schedules and would discuss which meetings and calls with industry representatives and others to include or omit from their publicly released calendar,” so his word is as good as gold of the very cheap sort Trump likes to use for décor and adornments. New York Magazine speculates that Pruitt has not been fired yet as Trump has cycled through aides and secretaries who have been removed for much less because Pruitt “could help Trump quash the Mueller investigation”. New York Magazine notes, “If Trump wants to use the Vacancies Act maneuver, he could pick any Senate-confirmed figure in his administration. But Pruitt is in some ways the ideal candidate. He’s a lawyer, deeply loyal to Trump, and, most importantly, is not hung up on following ethical rules or norms.”

From CNN and New York Magazine.



POLITICO reports, “The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday backed the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to aid President Donald Trump and is continuing its efforts to undermine U.S. democracy.” POLITICO adds, “The finding that reveals Russia meddled in far more extensive ways than previously known”.




The AP reports, “The head of a U.S. congressional delegation visiting Russia said Tuesday he hopes for ‘a new day’ in repairing relations between Russia and the U.S. U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow two weeks before the countries’ presidents are to meet in Helsinki.” This is indulging in pure unadulterated fantasies about what that country has done to us, and their true nature; it is an appalling abomination to spend the holiday of our nation’s founding in such company. The AP notes, “Also Tuesday, Lavrov spokes on the phone with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to discuss the July 16 meeting between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.” The AP adds, “Earlier in the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin and Trump could meet tete-a-tete without their aides before the broader official talks on July 16.” Horror of inhumanity, all of it.

From the AP.



The Baltic Times reports, “The U.S. congressional delegation expressed strong support for strengthening Latvia’s security and transatlantic unity during the meeting with Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics in Riga yesterday, the Latvian Foreign Ministry said. Rinkevics met with the U.S congressional delegation led by Senator Jeff Flake, Arizona. The delegation included Bob Corker, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, as well as Senator Tom Udall, New Mexico, and Senator Christopher Coons, Delaware.”

From The Baltic Times.


reports, “The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed embattled FBI agent Peter Strzok Tuesday for a second round of questioning early next week, but this time it will be public. Strzok, formerly the No. 2 counterintelligence official at the FBI, has been lambasted by Republicans lawmakers for the mountain of text messages he exchanged with former FBI lawyer Lisa Page disparaging then-candidate Donald Trump during the time the pair worked on the investigations into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and potential collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.” CNN adds, “Strzok was interviewed last week for 11 hours, in both unclassified and classified settings, after House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte initially slapped him with a subpoena to testify last month, although the two sides ultimately agreed to a voluntary interview and the subpoena was withdrawn.” Prior to the subpoena, Strzok had agreed to testify willingly and after the closed door hearing, it is the death cult GOP not Strzok who has kept the transcript private. Strzok is a key figure in the right wing (or Reich wing) propaganda channels where a Deep State conspiracy involving the FBI Secret Society comprised of Strzok and Page along with the CIA and everyone but Trump and Russia have colluded to frame the illegitimate president. Following last week’s interview, CNN notes, “Democrats called for the committee to release the interview transcript and Trump complained on Twitter last month that Strzok was being questioned behind closed doors.”

From CNN.



WNYC reports, “The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is creating a new task force. Its goal: to examine what they say are bad naturalization cases, according to Director L. Francis Cissna’s June announcement.” In a most Soviet of moves that will likely move from darker brothers and sisters to dissidents and their families, WNYC adds, “the organization expects to hire dozens of lawyers and immigration officers in the coming weeks to find U.S. citizens they say should not have been naturalized, to revoke their citizenship, and then eventually deport them.” Now keep in mind, everyone in the whole damn country has immigrant roots so this is very dangerous, especially in the hands of a lunatic administration with strong Soviet-style influences from Russia, which did exactly this in the countries the former USSR occupied.

From WNYC.



The Daily Beast reports, “Federal prosecutors blew up  one of the right-wing media’s most hyped conspiracy theories on Tuesday, saying that they had investigated and debunked claims that a House Democratic  staffer, not Russian hackers, had stolen the Democratic emails published by WikiLeaks.” The Daily Beast adds, “Former IT staffer Imran Awan pleaded guilty Tuesday to making a false statement on a home equity loan, which the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said likely carries a six-month prison sentence.” The Daily Beast recalls, “Led by reporting from the Daily Caller News Foundation, Republicans suspected that Awan was somehow involved in data leaks to either Russia or Pakistan. In July 2017, Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera and Sean Hannity speculated that Awan had used his access to Democratic servers to leak the emails from Democratic National Committee leader Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz that were published by WikiLeaks in 2016.” Of course all of that was bullshit conspiracy theories promulgated by assholes, we know now in case you did not already.

From The Daily Beast.



NPR reports, “Scott Schools, a top aide to the deputy attorney general, is planning to leave the Justice Department at the end of the week”. NPR adds, “The job title for Schools — associate deputy attorney general — belied his importance as a strategic counselor and repository of institutional memory and ethics at the DOJ. Schools has played a critical, if behind-the-scenes, role in some of the most important and sensitive issues in the building.” NPR notes, “As for Schools, Slate magazine called him ‘the most important unknown person in D.C.’ And that status has only grown as his boss, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, has found himself on defense among Republicans in Congress over the Mueller investigation,” adding, “his departure, as the highest ranking career lawyer at the Justice Department, will add to a brain drain”.

From NPR.


reports, “a lawsuit filed by two Democratic National Committee donors and a DNC staffer who accused it of colluding with Russian to publish compromising information about the Clinton campaign on WikiLeaks that included details about their lives,” was dismissed by “U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle in Washington” who “did so in a way that would allow the men to refile elsewhere.” Bloomberg adds, “‘The court’s ruling does not represent a ruling on the merits of plaintiffs’ claims,’ the judge wrote. ‘It bears emphasizing,’ Huvelle said in her 45-page decision, ‘that this court’s ruling is not based on a finding that there was no collusion between defendants and Russia during the 2016 presidential election.’” Bloomberg recalls, “WikiLeaks published about 44,000 messages stolen from the DNC right before the July 2016 Democratic convention. The president’s campaign organization and Stone were accused of plotting with WikiLeaks and Russia to wound Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s candidacy with the release of the files.” Bloomberg notes, “Among the hacked emails were messages containing the Social Security numbers of donors Roy Cockrum and Eric Schoenberg, as well as messages that publicly revealed that DNC finance team staffer Scott Comer is gay, a fact he’d hidden from his grandparents and other people. They filed the lawsuit.”

From Bloomberg.



Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports, “Russian President Vladimir Putin has named several military units after cities or other places in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, Germany, and Romania,” which tells you how big of an asshole he is, as if you did not know already. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “The decrees — which give a number of regiments and divisions honorary names that hark back to World War II, when dictator Josef Stalin was in power — were signed by Putin on June 30 and were made public on July 2.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty notes, “According to the decrees, the 6th Tank Regiment of the Russian Army is now called the Lviv regiment, the 68th Tank Regiment — Zhytomyr-Berlin, the 163th Tank Regiment — Nizhyn. The decrees give the Russian spellings of the names of the Ukrainian cities of Lviv, Zhytomyr, and Nizhyn.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty adds, “in 1944, Stalin named the 93rd Tank Brigade after Zhytomyr for its role in World War II. The brigade was later reformed into the 68th Tank Regiment, which was dissolved after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The regiment was reestablished last year.”

From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.



Bloomberg reports, “Danske Bank A/S’s Estonian operations were used to launder as much as $8.3 billion, more than double previous estimates, according to Bill Browder, the fund manager who is leading a global campaign against the Kremlin over human-rights abuses.” Bloomberg adds, “the disclosure could deepen the legal and reputational woes of Denmark’s biggest lender, which was reprimanded by regulators in May for failing to monitor for money laundering but avoided prosecution.” Not peanuts.

From Bloomberg.




reports, “European nations and Canada pushed back against accusations they don’t spend enough on defense after receiving a scolding from U.S. President Donald Trump. Trump, who travels to Brussels next week to attend a potentially testy North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit, sent letters to several allied nations calling on them to increase their military budgets.” Norway, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada and Spain all received versions of the letter.

From Bloomberg.



The Atlantic Council writes, “On June 29, President Donald Trump told reporters that he hasn’t ruled out recognizing Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. Trump is set to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on July 16 and many worry that he may gamble away Crimea.” It is already occupied; this would cement its status. Recall Russia is a cancer; the only way to irradiate it is through sunlight and lots of it. Even though the occupation occurred under Obama’s tenure in the White House, “US policy on Crimea has been consistent since 2014, and was clearly articulated by the State Department spokeswoman on the anniversary of Crimea’s annexation: ‘Crimea is part of Ukraine and our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.’” So now let’s hear from some experts on how damaging this all is to our future in freedom:

Anders Aslund, Atlantic Council: “President Trump ignores US national interests and is hostile to all US democratic allies. He hides his consistent anti-Western policy under a veneer of stunning ignorance. Trump has only suggested what he may give Putin but not what he wants from Putin… Trump may follow up on his statements on Crimea and say that it is Russia because the population is Russian, while leaving the consequences of this statement unclear. He can also promise to cut US support for Ukraine and undermine NATO. This Helsinki summit appears set to become a disastrous Yalta II.” No kidding. Next!

Michael Carpenter, former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Biden Center + Atlantic Council: “Trump is undermining the bedrock principles of the international order: namely, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. Such statements are irresponsible and dangerous. This is not a matter of ‘gamesmanship.’ It’s not a ‘strategically disruptive’ policy… call this for what it is: selling out our values to appease Putin.” Oh it’s so much worse than that!

Edward Lucas, former Economist editor turned European think tanker: “Russia is a weak country which is strongly led; the United States the exact opposite. Vladimir Putin is an expert in zaverbovaniya—the psychological recruitment tricks taught in KGB spy school. The narcissistic Mr. Trump is a sucker for flattery. This summit will not, I fear, have a happy ending.” Well Putin might think so as Trump will be administering the hand job.

Prognosis: hell ahead. And if you’re a sucker or an optimist prone to fits of naïve ignorance: all the studios are planning the Hollywood ending now… in half a century after this generation is condemned.

From The Atlantic Council.



The Washington Post reports, “Most state leaders would avoid saying no to President Trump in a room full of reporters. But Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte isn’t like most leaders. Rutte, a liberal straight-shooter known for mopping up his own coffee spills and cycling to the Dutch King’s palace in The Hague, met Monday with Trump amid rising trade tensions between the United States and the European Union, of which the Netherlands is a member. In a five-minute news conference in the Oval Office, Rutte spoke significantly less than Trump. But when the Dutch prime minister interjected, he made himself heard.” The Washington Post adds, “About a minute into his remarks, Trump suggested that leaving the trade dispute unresolved could still be ‘positive.’ Rutte responded by raising his eyebrows, laughing and cutting in to say, ‘No.’ When Trump kept going, Rutte said while smiling to reporters: ‘It’s not positive … We have to work something out.’”

From The Washington Post.




The Wall Street Journal
reports, “Immigrants separated from their children after being arrested for illegally entering the U.S. at the Mexican border are being asked to choose between being deported alone or with their children.” The Wall Street Journal adds, “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement started giving parents who have been given deportation orders a form laying out their options after a federal judge in San Diego last month ordered the administration to reunite immigrant families separated by federal authorities at the border with Mexico.” The Guardian adds, “Immigration advocates have objected to the form, citing asylum laws that allow for migrants to pursue their claims even if they have been issued an order for deportation. Lee Gelernt, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said the form did not provide an option for migrants to challenge their removal before a judge.” The Guardian notes, “The ACLU is in the midst of negotiating with the government to get a list of every parent separated from a child. The parties are scheduled to appear before a court in San Diego on Friday, which marks another deadline set out by last week’s preliminary injunction – that detained parents be allowed to speak to their children over the phone within a period of 10 days.”

From The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian.



The Intercept reports, “Kirstjen Nielsen made a series of secretive visits to South Texas immigrant detention centers on Friday. One of the facilities the secretary visited, in Los Fresnos, houses parents whose children were taken from them under President Donald Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ family separation policy. Many of the detainees there are women, and many desperately wanted to speak with Nielsen. Instead, they were moved to a distant soccer field, where they shouted to Nielsen for help but were too far away for her to hear them.” The Intercept notes ICE confirmed they moved interned immigrants but “claimed the move was for the purpose of ‘recreation.’” The Intercept adds, “Among the detainees were two women who have no idea where their teenage sons are being held and have not talked with them, as well as a woman whose 6-year-old is hundreds of miles away and unable to speak to her during calls from the child’s shelter, because he only cries when he gets on the phone. When The Intercept spoke with these women, none of them had lawyers.”

From The Intercept.



CNN reports, “A woman who climbed up to the robes of the Statue of Liberty to protest the separation of migrant families was taken into custody after a standoff with police on the Fourth of July.” CNN adds, “The woman was identified as Therese Patricia Okoumou by a law enforcement source close to the investigation and another source who knows her.”

From CNN.





NBC News reports, “Rep. Jim Jordan, the powerful Republican congressman from Ohio, is being accused by former wrestlers he coached more than two decades ago at Ohio State University of failing to stop the team doctor from molesting them and other students.” NBC News adds, “Jordan, who was assistant wrestling coach at the university from 1986 to 1994, has repeatedly said he knew nothing of the abuse until former students began speaking out this spring, and continued to deny it on Tuesday. His denials, however, have been met with skepticism and anger from some former members of the wrestling team.” You know who else was a wrestling coach? Dennis Hastert. NBC News notes, “Three former wrestlers told NBC News that it was common knowledge that Strauss showered regularly with the students and inappropriately touched them during appointments, and said it would have been impossible for Jordan to be unaware; one wrestler said he told Jordan directly about the abuse.” Recall, Jim Jordan is the loony Congressman who last week was railing against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein alleging he is covering up some Deep State conspiracy involving the FBI Secret Society and everyone but Trump and Russia.

From NBC News.





BBC News reports, “US President Donald Trump has ordered US flags to be flown at half-mast in tribute to five journalists killed last week at a Maryland newspaper”. BBC News adds, “He issued the proclamation on Tuesday morning, a day after Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said the White House had declined his request to lower flags.” So now everyone can read into his actions what they want; both approval of assassinating journalists in cold blood and a belated gesture against. Just one question: are we still fake news enemies of the people, fake POTUS?

From BBC News.



The Washington Post reports, “The New York Times demoted a reporter who acknowledged a romantic relationship with a Senate staffer who is suspected of leaking information to journalists. Times editor Dean Baquet said Tuesday he would reassign the reporter, Ali Watkins, from the paper’s Washington bureau to New York in the wake of revelations that she had been involved with James Wolfe, the former head of security for the Senate Intelligence Committee. Watkins covered the committee for a number of publications, although not the Times.” The Washington Post recalls, “Wolfe was indicted on June 7 after allegedly making false statements to FBI investigators about his contacts with reporters, including Watkins, during their investigation of leaks from the committee. Wolfe has pleaded not guilty and denies giving classified information to reporters; Watkins hasn’t been charged with any crime.” The Washington Post notes, “Watkins, 26, has denied that Wolfe was a source in her reporting on national security, while she worked for McClatchy, BuzzFeed, HuffPost and Politico. She disclosed her relationship with Wolfe to these publications in varying degrees of detail, according to the Times. She sometimes cited Wolfe by name and position, and other times she didn’t.”

From The Washington Post.


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