Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fresh French Fried Fox in a Fiery Forest Fire Finally Found Fraudulent

Caught flat-footed, red-handed, and lying like a rug

Sean Hannity and Fox News are both big name bullshitters, par excellence and now: WELL, IT'S RETRACTION time as reported on here by NBC News.
Fox News announced Tuesday (May 23rd) that it had retracted a story published last week that reignited conspiracy theories around the unsolved killing of DNC staffer Seth Rich, whose family demanded an apology from the conservative Fox news network.
Later the same day, the conspiracy's most prominent proponent, Fox News' Sean Hannity, announced on his show that he would stop discussing the case “for now.” It was a major back-down for a prominent host who had used his Twitter account earlier to vow he would never be silenced by “Liberal Fascism.”
Hannity said he made the decision to go mum on the killing “out of respect for the family's wishes,” but he also hinted that he had pressure from bosses at Fox News, where he noted he was under contract.
Rich's family published a Washington Post op-ed in the Washington Post hours before Hannity's show pleading that people stop politicizing their son's death. The op-ed did not mention Hannity's name, but Aaron Rich, Seth's brother, exchanged emails with Hannity earlier in the day, the host said and a family spokesperson confirmed.
1.  Fox News, citing a single unnamed FBI source, had reported that Rich, who was murdered last year in Washington, DC was a potential source of internal DNC emails published by WikiLeaks last summer, thus implying that he was then assassinated for the leak.
2. The report immediately caught fire among Trump supporters as a preferable alternative explanation to the one put forward by U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials, who have always maintained that Russian hackers were behind the breach.
(I Note: And, boy oh boy, were they ever wrong, Seth's death is still an unsolved robbery-murder case).

Even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich amplified the conspiracy theory on Fox News Sunday (May 21st). Then by Tuesday, Fox retracts the story.
Ironically, Keith Olbermann on his GQ show had just published a fine analysis of the entire BS story along with great logic and key points that tore the entire Fox/Hannity story to pieces in 9-minutes. That fine segment is here from YouTube:
So, bad timing or just plain dumb luck, um, Fox? Also, noteworthy is how the public now truly sees Murdoch and his Fox den of liars who are totally unfair and unbalanced and apparently unhinged as many of us already knew.
Uncle Ruppy Murdoch

Monday, May 22, 2017

Saudi Billions in Sales: Sealed With a Kiss, Hand Shake, or Congress OK

The way to seal an arms deal
(In 2017) 

Or seal an arms deal this way
(In 2008)

When President Donald Trump closed a nearly $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia on Saturday, his deputies’ spirits soared:
1.  Jared Kushner high-fived NSC Adviser H. R. McMaster as he entered the room where they held talks with Saudi officials.
2.  Aide Gary Cohn told pool reporters the deals represented “a lot of money. Big dollars. Big dollars.”
Background about this deal which BTW must be approved by Congress (was once and vetoed by Mr. Obama) – thus must be approved above IAW law:
This sale is one of the largest in history
It totals close to $110B in tanks, artillery, radar systems, armored personnel carriers, and Blackhawk helicopters.
It also includes ships, patrol boats, Patriot missiles, and THAAD (the anti-missile defense system – like the one recently installed in South Korea).
Impact of this deal:
1.  Much of that military hardware will likely be pressed into service in the Saudi fight against its neighbor Yemen – the place where more than 10,000 people have been killed in more than two years of heavy airstrikes and fighting.
2.  Those Saudi airstrikes have hit numerous schools, hospitals, factories, and other civilian targets – all leading to well-documented allegations of war crimes by human rights organizations.
3.  That has pushed much of the country to the brink of starvation, with more than 17 million people facing famine, according to the U.N.
“There’s a humanitarian aspect that tends to be ignored. This is something that will come back to bite the Saudis as well, and by implication the Americans, because we’re the ones providing the bombs and bullets. The implication is not necessarily that these are war crimes, but it is a stain on the reputation of both the Saudis and potentially the Americans to continue this kind of bloodshed with indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations,” said Robert Jordan, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia appointed by George W. Bush in a telephone interview with TIME.
Irony: Trump says this deal is a step that will boost Saudi security and the help our economy with “Saudi investments.” (I note: So, the Saudis will help our growth)?
However, this agreement is also exactly the sort of decisive, business-oriented deal on which Trump bases his personal brand.
Still, this deal further entangles us in a political and humanitarian crisis that threatens to spiral out of control.
So, seal the deal – art of the deal as it were, um? Sealed with a kiss or a hand shake or whatever?

Final Note: In most situations like in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East, greetings between men are often accompanied by kisses and hand-holding.
At first it is uncomfortable for Americans, but it is the local custom. Some people advise our leaders to adapt and adopt those customs saying it goes a long way to building trust and rapport.
Noteworthy: Japanese and Korean officials and indeed most Asians bow rather than shake hands like Americans do. So, if they refuse our shake our hand, we consider doing what: Nuke ‘em? Oops.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Brand New Low: White House Officials Hawking Favors Via Slick Marketing

The two most-important people in the White House
(Their actions speak louder than words) 

The only thing that matters to them: Name, fame, and fortune 
(Market the name to the max

Is this family all that the country needs to “buy and gain friends and favors?” 

Their influence reeks from grand slick schemes. Take Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump-Kushner as prime examples:

Their actions to date prove my point and especially with this latest stunt by Ivanka Trump-Kushner reported on here from the Huffington Post during presidential visit to Saudi Arabia.

Then I ask: why is she sitting there with the President and King?

Then add this reminder about Jared Kushner’s family hawking the family name and his White House connections to Chinese investors to buy a visas that leads to a “green card” for a simple $500,000 contribution to I guess, some economic fund? Better to read: The Kushner family real-estate business that is posted here with several good links therein.

So, is this what we are all about – what we have become: One huge marketing policy network for the Trump and Kushner empires? That is to be a launching pad for those in office using their powerful positions that the president (father and father-in-law) bestowed upon them? Sure seems that way; now almost on a weekly basis or so it seems.

All in all,it's pretty darn sad I'd have to say – what about you?

Related reminders – hint: Many millions of us saw this coming … sad isn’t it?

Thanks for stopping by as usual.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Put the Kibosh on Trump’s “Loony Toon Saga” and Return Some Normalcy

Time to End This National Nightmare and Wake Up, America

We need to get the liar, insulter, hypocrite-in-Chief out of our lives – his is NOT the nation’s CEO and we are NOT his minions sitting in his conglomerate board room waiting to be fired or worse. 

No one likes to use the word liar – for years has not been used for public officials since lies are hard to prove, but not any more; not with Donald J. Trump. He erased that line long ago.  He is exhibit #1 in that category, and not just in my view, but a long line of proven lies.

It is how well past time to send him to back to his personal tower or where ever… these are the last few straws as it were – not even counting what the special counsel and congressional probably will uncover:

The most-recent event Exhibit #2 is son-in-law Jared Kushner – an exact pattern of Exhibit #1. To wit:

(1) These developments, (2) and here, (3) here and (3) and here – he’s like chicken man: “He’s everywhere, he’s everywhere.”

Yes, it is time to end this nightmare and the sooner the better for our national mental state of health – don’t ya’ think?

I have never been more serious about a political issue than this in my lifetime… what about you? Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Trump: "It's a Witch Hunt" — Seems We Found a "Warlock" Along the Way

Trump as young lad
(Seems like he never grew up) 

Trump loyalists get last week's news

I can't be sure and will not speak for everyone, but I think we're suffering for news overkill that sadly Mr. Trump thrives on: Staying in the limelight as top dawg...

The Story's Premise: For any president, one of these headlines would be very bad news. For President Donald J. Trump, they all came in a span of just 12 hours:

1.  “Justice Department to appoint special counsel to oversee probe of Russian meddling in 2016 election”

2.  “House majority leader told colleagues last year: I think Putin pays Trump”
(Ironically, the GOPers there (including Speaker Paul Ryan) said: “That was only a joke.” Then they were heard on tape saying: “No leaks, okay. We keep this in our family.”)
3.  “Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed — after being paid as its agent”

4.  “Trump Team Knew Flynn Was Under Investigation Before He Came to White House”

5.  “Israeli Source Seen as Key to Countering Islamic State Threat”

6.  “Trump campaign had at least 18 undisclosed contacts with Russians — sources”

It was a dizzying last Wednesday night for political reporters and followers alike, with a bevy of new information being thrown at them on multiple fronts. And it continued into early the next morning with that last headline above from Reuters.

Details on each of the above stories here from the Washington Post

Interesting stuff, isn’t it? Now we need swift resolution from to this nightmare.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Trump: “My Staff, Plan, Method, Beautifully Simple, Yuge, Yugely Simple”

My goals are clear with smooth road and clear road map

Same page, same message, constant, and coherent
(Spicy with Alternative Facts on the side)

In a report by Axios (and on Meet the Press) White House sources citing President Trump say he is reportedly considering a “huge reboot of his core staff and cabinet members.” That could lead to the termination of everyone from Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon, to counsel Don McGahn and press secretary Sean Spicer.

He's frustrated, and angry at everyone, the sources further said.

According to Axios, the conversations intensified this week as the fallout from the Comey firing “pushed the White House from chaos into crisis.”

Trump's closest friends are telling him “that many of his top aides don't know how to work with him, pointing out (for example) that his approval ratings aren't rising, but the leaks are.”

As a result of the advice, which is: “Go big — he has nothing to lose,” the question now is how big and how bold. “I'm not sure even he knows the answer to that yet,” the W/H confidant concluded.

Whew boy – only if it were true. How many more days until this madness ends? Wow – that many, um?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Trump Unglued Still Says Putin-Russia is Hoax: Blames and Cans Comey

Trump Unglued Says Some Major Media

Good Job, Now You're Fired - Get Out

Even though Trump fired Comey and shut him out, the FBI’s investigation into any Trump-Putin/Russian remains in place and on-going with no public disclosure.

This breaking from NY Times:
 WASHINGTON — Days before he was fired, James B. Comey, the former FBI director, asked the Justice Department for a significant increase in money and personnel for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election. Mr. Comey asked for the resources during a meeting last week with Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who wrote the Justice Department’s memo that was used to justify the firing of the FBI director this week.
Mr. Comey then briefed members of Congress on the meeting in recent days.

FROM CNN: The CNN “BREAKING NEWS” banner kicked into high gear Tuesday (May 9, 2017) in the afternoon when Wolf Blitzer broke the news to viewers that President Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey, effective immediately. But it was CNN judicial analyst Jeffrey Toobin who had the harshest assessment the president’s decision to unseat the man in charge of investigating his campaign’s ties to Russia and who said right after Blitzer called the move “…an extraordinary moment in American history.”
Toobin said: “You bet it is, Wolf, and it is a grotesque abuse of power by the president of the United State. This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies. That when there is an investigation that reaches near the president of the United States, or the leader of a non-democracy, they fire the people who are in charge of the investigation. I have not seen anything like this since October 20, 1973 when President Richard Nixon fired Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. (Which he noted led to Nixon’s resignation). This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is something that is completely outside how the American law is supposed to work. There is no question that the president has the legal authority to do what he has done, but there is nothing normal about his actions. This is a political act when the president is under investigation. When his White House counsel was described yesterday as being told that his National Security Adviser was subject to blackmail by the Russians and they fired the attorney general a few days later (acting AG Sally Yates). Now they’ve fired the FBI director. I mean, what kind of country is this?”
“Strong words from Jeffrey Toobin,” Blitzer said in the understatement of the evening.
From The AP – this update (highlights – call it “my pick and choose parts” – the precise contexts are not changed just the format to highlight the most-important parts for the record and my emphasis added):
WASHINGTON — With his shocking dismissal of FBI Director James Comey, Donald Trump is propelling the presidency into rarely traversed territory.
His surprise announcement Tuesday flouts decades of presidential deference to the nation's top law enforcement agency and its independence. It earns Trump the dubious distinction of being the first president since Richard Nixon to fire the official overseeing an investigation involving the commander in chief. And it cements a clear pattern of a man willing to challenge — in dramatic fashion — the institutions created to hold the president accountable.
From Michael Beschloss, a presidential historian: “That's why this is unprecedented. He's showed signs of not having a great deal of respect for the system by which this investigation has been operating.”
From Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) overseeing one of the congressional investigations into Russia's election interference who said: “I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Comey's termination.”
From Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) who said he'd spent hours trying to find “an acceptable rationale for Trump's decision and concluded: “I just can't do it.”
[Key background]:
1.  Trump attained his White House goal after a decades-long career in business during which he was accountable to few people other than himself.
2.  Trump has chafed at the constitutionally mandated constraints on the presidency.
3.  Trump within days of taking the oath of office suddenly fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates — a career Justice Department official — after she refused to defend the White House's controversial travel and immigration ban.
4.  Then when the federal courts blocked that measure as well, Trump aggressively castigated individual judges as political actors and challenged the court's role in curbing a president's policies.
The Trump White House letter firing Comey cited his handling of last year's investigation into Hillary Clinton's email practices as the cause for the firing, and, to be sure, Comey left himself vulnerable. He was widely criticized for heavy-handed and high-profile decisions in the case, particularly when he sent a letter to Congress 10 days before the election saying the bureau was looking at new information related to the inquiry. He said at the time that the new information related to emails found on a laptop belonging to the husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, the disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner.

At that time, Trump praised Comey for having “guts and doing the right thing,” statements that [now] complicate his assertion that now, seven months later, Comey's decisions warranted firing.
Trump's announcement came as Comey was again facing criticism, this time for telling congressional lawmakers that Abedin had forwarded “hundreds or thousands of emails to the laptop.”
On Tuesday, hours before Trump fired Comey, the FBI told lawmakers that the director was wrong, and Abedin had forwarded only a “small number of emails” [and they were not classified at the time of being sent].
Key conclusion from The AP that I also agree with: Although Democrats blame Comey for Clinton's loss, they are unlikely to accept Trump's explanation for the firing.

This from Business Insider:

The president has repeatedly dismissed Comey's Russia investigation — as well as the congressional inquiries — as a “hoax.” Trump also insisted that he is not personally under investigation — asserting Tuesday that Comey told him three times that he was not a target — though the FBI has stated unequivocally that the president's campaign and his associates are facing scrutiny.
From Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA): “This is Nixonian.”
From Jimmy Gurule, a former assistant attorney general who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush and now is a law professor at the University of Notre Dame: “Trump’s decision threatens our democracy and undermines the integrity of the FBI investigation.”
During Watergate: Nixon's decision had a ripple effect throughout his administration with the attorney general and deputy attorney general resigning rather than carry out the president's orders.
There was no such response from Trump's White House aides and other top administration officials. [My insert: At least not yet].
From Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University: “We haven't had a voice from within the Trump administration denounce this yet. I think at this moment the question is, will leading Republicans step out of the box and become profiles of courage?”
In the immediate aftermath of Trump's announcement, many Republicans appeared more inclined to back his decision, citing their own concerns with Comey's stewardship of the FBI following months of controversy.
None of the Republicans who did raise concerns were rushing to draw comparisons to Nixon, the only president to resign from office. Yet they, too, appeared troubled by Trump's decision and wary of the prospect of White House interference in an investigation involving the president.
From Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN): “Comey's removal at this particular time will raise questions. It is essential that ongoing investigations are full and free of political interference until their completion.”
My Note: Amen to that Sen. Corker, amen. However, all that can only now be achieved or conducted by a totally independent commission just like that for Watergate and not via sustained House or Senate partisan committee. Let the professionals at the FBI continue and conclude their extensive investigation and set up a special independent commission to work separately but in conjunction with a final FBI report to the public … We the People surely have a compelling need and right to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

From Business Insider and two Trump nut jobs:

The president has publicly called the Russia investigations “fake news and a witch hunt.”  Trump reportedly turned against Comey after the director admitted to the Senate that the FBI is investigating Trump campaign aides and said there is no evidence supporting Trump's claim that President Barack Obama wiretapped him in the run-up to the election.
A few hours after news of Comey's firing broke, top Trump spokespeople, including counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, and deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, appeared on television defending the president's decision and reflecting his frustration with the Russia investigation:

1.  Sanders called for an end to the Russia investigation, which she called “absurd,” saying to Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tuesday night: “When are they going to let that go? It's been going on for nearly a year. Frankly, it's kind of getting absurd. There's nothing there ... It's time to move on and frankly it's time to focus on the things the American people care about.”
Sanders also said that she does not think Comey's firing will have any effect on the ongoing investigations.   “I don't think it affects at all in any capacity whatsoever,” she told Carlson. “You will have the same people that will be carrying it out to the Department of Justice. The process continues both I believe in the House and Senate committees and I don't see any change or disruption there.”
2.  Conway told CNN's Anderson Cooper that the Russia investigation had nothing to do with Comey's firing, pushing the administration's line that Trump lost confidence in Comey over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state, adding: “This has nothing to do with Russia," she said. "Somebody must be getting $50 every time (Russia) is said on TV.”
Hard to beat those two, right? SNL will have a field day next cycle I am sure.
Thanks for stopping by and I’m sure you will stay tuned … this is surely historical.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Timely Tax Topic: Trump's Troublesome Tax Tricks

Trump's View of America

From Hoover to Obama
(Show this to Mr. Trump, Mr. Mnuchin)
[Click image for larger view]

Part of the “Trump Tax Plan” the biggest in American history he is boasting already here from NPR and from CNBC.

Part of all that may become reality since we have an all-GOP government across the board, and once again we still hear their chatter, the same old, same old GOP BS tax line: “Corporate taxes are too high.”

1.  Fact: The top federal tax rate on businesses currently it set at 35%.

2.  Fact: Donald J. Trump wants to slash that number to 15%.

The reality as the late great Paul Harvey used to say: “Now, the rest of the story” is these few tidbits:

1.  A tax cut of that magnitude would be a huge boon for profits and stocks for sure,

2.  It would also swell the national debt by billions, if not trillions – and that debt now exceeds some $20 trillion.

3.  Congress along the way to helping Trump get what he wants for big business will surely feel pressure to close many loopholes that let many companies whittle their tax bill down to single-digits. (Which I might add: We have heard it all before).

Now, the real story – for starters: The U.S. effective corporate tax rates are not the 354% burden GOPers claim it is:

1.  The U.S. top statutory tax rate of 35% is in fact somewhat higher than that of 30 of the 35 current OECD countries, but the average effective tax rate — that is: the actual rate paid after deductions and credits — is slightly lower than our competitors, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

2.  Several studies have found that U.S. corporations pay a similar or lower effective tax rate — the rate actually paid — than corporations in other countries.

Four Examples:

1.  The U.S. average effective tax rate is 27.1% compared with 27.7% for the other OECD countries (CRS report).
2.  Profitable corporations paid U.S. income taxes amounting to just 12.6% of worldwide income in 2010 (GAO report).

3.  A survey of 288 corporations, which included most of the Fortune 500 corporations that were profitable each year from 2008 through 2012, found that they paid an average effective federal tax rate of just 19.4% over that period (CTJ survey).

4.  Of 125 corporations in that study that had significant foreign profits, 82 (two-thirds) paid a higher effective rate to foreign governments than they paid to the U.S. (CTJ report).

Irony: Some U.S. Corporations pay nothing in taxes

1.  General Electric, Boeing,, Verizon, and some 22 other profitable Fortune 500 firms paid no federal income taxes from 2008 through 2012 (CTJ report).

2.  Also, 111 profitable Fortune 500 firms paid zero federal taxes in at least one of those same five years.

Double Irony: General Electric, one of the most notorious corporate tax dodgers, actually got a $3.1 billion refund on their $27.5 billion in profits from 2008 to 2012 (Note: That means they paid less in federal income taxes in five years than a single American family pays in one year).

GOP Myth “Lower tax rates boost growth and jobs” (Hint: No, they do not)

A cut in the statutory rate from 35% to 25% would increase economic output by less than two-tenths of one percent, (CRS report).

Economic growth over the past 60 years has actually been stronger when corporate tax rates were higher, (EPI data).

U.S. corporate tax rates also are not hurting profits — before-tax and after-tax corporate profits as a percentage of national income are at post–World War II highs.

The real Myth Kicker: There is no relationship between cutting corporate tax rates and job growth (The Center for Effective Government).
Two facts:

1.  Twenty-two of the 30 profitable Fortune 500 companies that paid the highest tax rates (30% or more) from 2008 to 2010 created almost 200,000 jobs between 2008 and 2012.

2.  The 30 profitable corporations that paid little or no taxes over those same three years collectively shed 51,289 jobs between 2008 and 2012.

Yeah, vote GOP, right? Help keep the tax BS train rolling along while blaming everyone except your side, um, right. You betcha’…

Thanks for stopping by and sharing their BS – make sure your mask is tight and the filters are new.

Main source for the info I gathered for this post from here. (A great link I might add).

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Lights, Camera: Tweeter-in-Chief on Stage — Quiet Please — Action, Roll

Cut, Print, Publish
Reporter: “A dangerous move isn't it, Mr. President?”
(Prez: “I don't give a damn.”) 

Trump calls for government shutdown to get congressional rules in check.
FYI MEMO FOR TRUMP: Congress is a separate branch of government and you, sir, have no control over Congressional rules and operations. So, do us all a yuge favor and just STFU.

Trump Tweet Headlines: 

“Our country ‘needs’ government shutdown to pass GOP agenda”

“Our country needs a good shutdown in September to fix mess! The reason for the plan negotiated between the Republicans and Democrats is that we need 60 votes in the Senate which are not there! We either elect more Republican Senators in 2018 or change the rules now to 51%.”
Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2017

Recall that the 2013 shutdown lasted 16 days. The effects of that meant furloughs and other shutdowns and non-hires not only in government but across the board and included:
1. Tax refunds totaling almost $4 billion were delayed.
2.  The WIC program went unfunded.
3.  Total shutdown: Federal research activities at the National Institutes of Health (lost about three-quarters of its employees), the National Science Foundation (lost 98 percent of its workforce), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (lost 2/3 of its manpower) shut down nearly entirely; the CDC scaled back its monitoring of disease outbreaks.
4.  The Environmental Protection Agency inspections halted at 1,200 locations.
5.  The Food and Drug Administration delayed approval of drugs and medical devices
6.  Yes, the national parks were shut down resulting in over $500 million in lost consumer tourism spending. 
7.  Reviews of veterans’ disability applications slowed to a halt, with nearly 20,000 applications per week not being evaluated. 
8.  In total, the Office on Management and Budget estimated that the shutdown cut GDP growth in the fourth quarter of 2013 by 0.2 to 0.6 points, and resulted in 120,000 fewer jobs.  
9.  Across the board OPM and CBO estimates $24 Billion was lost.
10.  800,000 Feds did not work – some w/o pay (e.g., essential employees).
11.  Shutdowns don’t result in seniors going without their retirement checks, or the military closing up shop, or airplanes crashing into each other in the sky, but they do cause massive disruption to hundreds of thousands of workers and their families. 
Related stories:

Donald J. Trump is in way over his head and out of touch with reality.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

China May Help Defuse North Korean Nuclear Threat: Valid Offer or Not

China's Solution to Help Resolve North Korea's Nuclear Threat
(Bomb and Destroy their nuke sites)

The following is mainly from Chinese sources, but believed to be true and accurate:
The headlines: China threatens to bomb and destroy NK nuclear sites if their “bottom line is crossed”
China appears to step in big time vis-à-vis their red line” calling it their “bottom line.”
They referred to an article with the topic: “The United States Must Not Choose a Wrong Direction to Break the DPRK Nuclear Deadlock” (it was published Wednesday, April 26th). Beijing warned that it would attack North Korea's nuclear facilities effectively engaging in an act of war, if North Korea crosses China's “bottom line.”
What is that “bottom line?” Apparently, North Korean nuclear activities must not jeopardize northeastern China. If North Korea were to impact China with its illicit nuclear tests through either “nuclear leakage or pollution,” then China will respond with force, saying: “China has a bottom line that it will protect at all costs the security and stability of northeast China... If the bottom line is touched, China will employ all means available including the military means to strike back. By that time, it is not an issue of discussion whether China acquiesces to any U.S. blows, but the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will launch attacks to DPRK nuclear facilities on its own.”
Note: Shortly after publication, the article seems to have been retracted without explanation with the URL returning a “familiar 404 site error” message. However not before the original article was cached on a web page owned by China Military, courtesy of Google (picture is here).
In that same editorial, the author declared that the PLA would launch attacks on the NK nuclear facilities on its own, even if the U.S. does not, adding: A strike to nuclear facilities of the DPRK (the official name of NK) is the best military means in the opinion of the outside world.”
Note: The northeastern Chinese provinces of Liaoning and Jilin share borders with North Korea. These two provinces and Heilongjiang are part of the Shenyang Military Region, one of seven military regions of the PLA.
The editorial then explained the advantages to the world of a Chinese attack on North Korea's nuclear facilities explained this way: “Once the PLA attacks these nuclear sites, the DPRK will permanently suspend its nuclear weapons programs.”
Further, The DPRK has limited resources of nuclear materials that are strictly blockaded in the outside world, erasing the possibility for DPRK to get the materials again. “Nuclear weapons” is DPRK's trump card for its defiance of China and the United States. Once this card is lost, it will become obedient immediately.”
Further, if the DPRK “nuclear facilities are destroyed, they will not even fight back, but probably block the news to fool its domestic people. The DPRK will freak out if its nuclear facilities are destroyed.”
Note: Yes, a Chinese author of that did say: “Freak out.”
The report also said that "the DPRK must not fall into the turmoil to send a large number of refugees, it is not allowed to have a government that is hostile against China on the other side of the Yalu River, and the US military must not push forward its forces to the Yalu River.” It notes that "this sentence is meant for the United States, because the premise of it is that the US military has launched attacks to the DPRK."
But what may be the most notable part of the Op-ed is the mention in the Global Times editorial that North Korea will not be "not allowed to have a government that is hostile against China on the other side of the Yalu River."  This implies that if and when the US initiate strikes on NK, the Chinese PLA will likely send out troops "to lay the foundation" for a favorable post-war situation.
In simple language if true, and major, major breakthrough to end tense drama: China may be just waiting for Trump to “decapitate the DPRK regime,” in order to pounce and move in to immediately fill the power vacuum. Where that would go is anyone’s guess.
The next move it seems is up to Kim, Jong-un in North Korea – is he suicidal or not? Will Chinese pressure be enough to make him back down, and would China follow through and destroy the North’s nuclear sites and proceed as they appear to be threatening …
Obviously, stay tuned.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Update and Review: Trump-Putin/Russian Ties, Links, and Mystery Web

Who, What, and Why is Behind Trump

Kushner meets with big Russian bank (with strong ties to Putin) in December 2016 (one month before Trump took office) as he was seeking loans to help finance “Kushner Tower.”
Highlights: Trump's son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, met with the CEO of Russia's state-owned VnesheConomBank in December 2016, The New York Times reported as indicated in this article from Business Insider. The meeting — which had not previously been disclosed and came on the heels of Kushner's meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at Trump Tower — caught the attention of the Senate Intelligence Committee, now investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election to see whether any members of Trump's campaign were complicit.
As the old Cash song asks: “How high’s the water Momma?” Well this shït is deep and rising with that Kushner stuff and now this about Michael Flynn:
Flynn got lots of $$$$ from Russia and Turkey and apparently never got permission, which the law requires, and failed to report it accurately. This is from the Washington Post and the extract below from the AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Documents released by lawmakers show President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Ret. Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, was warned when he retired from the military in 2014 not to take foreign money without “advance approval” by Pentagon authorities.
Now, the Defense Department IG’s office confirms in a separate document that it is investigating whether Flynn failed to obtain prior approval.
Meanwhile, the chairman and senior Democrat on the House Oversight Committee say they want the Army to rule on whether Flynn informed and asked permission for the payments from Russian and Turkish entities. Note: Flynn earned tens of thousands of dollars from Russia's state-sponsored/run RT television network and from a Turkish businessman linked to Turkey's government for speeches, etc.
Basic question just like it was asked during the Watergate Hearings: What did Trump know and when did he know it about big foreign money deals/payment to Kushner and Flynn? It is naïve to believe or think that Trump did not know about those two events nor what has transpired on his behalf. And, more so with SOS Rex Tillerson and his former company, ExxonMobil and money ties to Russia for oil drilling – some say worth $500 billion.
All signs indicate that Jared Kushner, Michael Flynn, Rex Tillerson, Carter Page, Paul Manafort, and those listed below were somehow in bed with Russia and key Russian operatives at the same time they were connected to and part of the Trump campaign, the Trump transition team, and now while in key official Trump administration positions.
This is very serious stuff and hopefully the several congressional committees and FBI will prepare a final report – even if that’s possible to be final in anyway and tell the truth about the Trump-Putin/Russian ties for the past several years and it is further apparent why Mr. Trump will not release his tax returns: They would show who has borrowed money from and who is owes and therefore deeply indebted to (Russia and China perhaps) and now the Kushner billion-dollar bank loan from a well-known and Chinese communist connected bank for his “Kushner Tower.”

This quick review of the ties and web (that possibly bind) comes from the Washington Post with this great graphic:

Donald Trump, president. Trump’s connections to Russian business interests are murky, thanks to his decision not to release his tax returns during the campaign. We know that the Miss Universe pageant was hosted in Moscow when Trump owned it and that he earned millions of dollars for doing so. We know, too, that he’s repeatedly explored real estate deals in the country. It’s not clear whether Trump has met Kislyak, though the ambassador attended a foreign policy speech Trump gave last spring and the reception that preceded it. We know now that Trump has been in communication with Putin — but he also claimed to have been in contact with representatives of the Russian president (and Putin himself) before the campaign. 
Jeff Sessions, attorney general. Sessions’ relationship with Kislyak is well-established by now. This is a good point at which to note, though, that the existence of that relationship does not in any way imply wrongdoing by Sessions. It’s just part of the network we’re establishing.

Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn – discussed above.
Donald Trump Jr., son. The younger Trump visited France last October to speak to an obscure Russian group. In 2008, Don Jr., who works for the Trump Organization, famously told a real estate conference that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets” and that “we see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”
Paul Manafort, former campaign manager. Manafort’s links to Russian interests are well established. New revelations that emerged during the campaign prompted Trump to demand Manafort’s resignation. Manafort is one of the Trump campaign staffers who reportedly made contact with Russian interests during the campaign.
Rex Tillerson, secretary of state. Before he was confirmed to serve as the head of the State Department, even Republicans questioned Tillerson’s relationship to Putin. As the head of ExxonMobil, Tillerson helped negotiate a massive agreement between the Russian government and ExxonMobil-Rosneft, a partnership between the two companies. Tillerson was subsequently awarded the “Order of Friendship” by Putin.

Wilbur Ross, secretary of commerce. Ross’s connections to Russian business interests are less obvious than Tillerson’s. During the Clinton administration, Ross served on the board of the U.S.-Russia Investment Fund, an effort to bolster businesses in post-Cold-War Russia. During his confirmation, questions arose about his ownership of a bank on Cyprus that, in the words of McClatchy’s Kevin Hall, “caters to wealthy Russians.”

Roger Stone, longtime and close Trump adviser. Stone’s connection to Russia is murky. During the campaign, he drew attention for seeming to have inside knowledge on the WikiLeaks document releases — releases that have been linked to Russian interests by the government. More directly, the Times reports that Stone is possibly under investigation by the U.S. government for his links to Russia.

Carter Page, former adviser. Page is included in that alleged investigation as well, but his links to Russia are clearer. Page pretty clearly met with Kislyak last year during the Republican convention in Cleveland, as he admitted to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Thursday night. He also has repeatedly addressed Russian business groups in that country, including twice in 2016. Over a decade ago, he worked in Russia as an investment banker (I posted more on Carter Page here).

J.D. Gordon, former adviser. Page is far in the outer orbit of Trump’s circle, serving briefly as part of Trump’s national security advisory team. He’s joined there by Gordon
a onetime Pentagon spokesman who also served as an adviser to the campaign. Gordon, like Page, reportedly spoke with Kislyak in Cleveland.

Washington Post Caveat: This document should be considered a work in progress. As more information is released, it (and the graphic) will be updated.

Again, none of the relationships above are intended to show misbehavior by those involved. The broad question at stake is the extent to which Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election and, if it did, the extent to which it may have leveraged relationships with Trump’s team to that end. That much-bigger question is much harder to evaluate.

As always, stay tuned… I believe that this review is well-intended and hopefully helpful to the readers. Thanks for stopping by.