Majorityrights News > Category: Peak Oil

Moscow Taking Control of Venezuelan Oil Assets, Gaining Geopolitical Foothold in Caribbean

Posted by DanielS on Tuesday, 15 August 2017 05:11.

Venezuela, a back door against sanctions and a foothold in the Caribbean in the face of America once again: Venezuela’s Maduro selling oil to Putin.

Venezuela tried to build their economy the wrong way, by selling oil and other natural resources rather than developing the infrastructure by which they might process the oil and other resources in order to sustain and advance their economy.

Venezuela is one of the pariah states along with Belarus and North Korea that the Russian Federation likes to play games with; the RF is now swooping-in for a foothold, for what could be increasing geopolitical control over the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

Breitbart, “Report: Moscow Takes Control of Venezuelan Oil Assets amid Socialist Meltdown”, 14 Aug 2017:

Venezuela needs cash, and Russia has it. Venezuela has oil, and Russia wants it. According to a special report at Reuters, the socialist meltdown in Venezuela is likely to end with Moscow controlling a good deal of that tormented country’s most valuable asset: its oil fields.

According to Reuters, Russia’s giant state-owned oil company Rosneft has been holding secret negotiations with its opposite number in Venezuela, PDVSA, to purchase “ownership interests in up to nine of Venezuela’s most productive petroleum projects.”

The number of Venezuela projects Russia would have substantial or ownership stakes in would jump from five to 14 if these deals go through. The new acquisitions would include projects in some of Venezuela’s richest oil and natural gas fields.

The article goes on to note that Rosneft has already floated a billion dollars to PDVSA for promised future oil shipments, and the regime of socialist dictator Nicolas Maduro used Russian money to avoid defaulting on bonds at least twice. Russia announced one of these seemingly risky advance payments immediately after the United States announced a new round of sanctions against Maduro at the beginning of August.

Barron’s explains that Russia’s advance payments for Venezuelan crude are essentially a stealth strategy for buying the oil fields themselves. Russia writes huge checks for barrels of oil, Venezuela is unable to deliver the product or pay the debt, and Russia swaps the debt for equity in the oil projects.

New York Times, “Is Putin Getting What He Wanted With Trump?” 10 June 2017:

In the Senate last week, Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina, asked the fired F.B.I. director James Comey if he had “any doubt that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 elections.” Mr. Comey responded with a single word: “None.”

Indeed, he went on to tell the American public that the Russians “did it with purpose, they did it with sophistication, they did it with overwhelming technical efforts.” And he warned: “They will be back,” adding, “they are coming after America.”

Vodka shots in the Kremlin, right? Not exactly.

Doubtless Vladimir Putin continues to derive satisfaction from having assaulted American democracy and embarrassed Hillary Clinton. But the Russian president had one paramount priority: to lift Western sanctions.

As MR has noted, the parasite “federation” that is the Russian Federation, works with rogue nations such as North Korea and Belarus. The Times article adds -

[ibid]

According to one estimate, a quarter of Russia’s global weapons exports in 2015 were to rogue Venezuela, in transactions predominantly effected via loans. Last week, Moscow cut $1 billion from projected state budget revenues.

The Express -

Express, “TRUMP’S NEW THREAT? US President urged to act as Venezuela forges closer links to RUSSIA”, 8 April 2017:

DONALD Trump could be forced to step in to save Venezuela amid fears the failing South American country could be about to turn to Russia or Iran for support.

The Trump administration in Washington is already dealing with a string of crises across the globe - including deadly conflict in Iraq and Syria and the fight against Islamic extremism.

But improving relations with Russia, who today claimed its relationship with the US was in “tatters”, could prove to be the government’s biggest challenge to date.

Russia has not been a threat to America since the Cold War era - yet Moscow could now have found a sneaky way to stir up new tensions with the US without even lifting a finger.

Venezuela has always enjoyed warm relations with Russia, purchasing more than £3.2billion worth of arms from the former Soviet state since 2005.

And in 2009, Russia approved a whopping £1.6bn loan for the Latin American nation as it struggled with an inflation crisis that has left thousands of people struggling to afford food.

However, experts in the US have now warned there could be more to the ‘friendship’ than meets the eye.

Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee, a US top military official warned Venezuela could be a “destabilising” factor in Latin America - claiming a “regional response” could be needed following the country’s growing humanitarian crisis.

But he also warned the relationships fostered by Venezuela could pose a real threat to the US in the future.

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Trump Admin cornered by Grand Jury, will be forced to diclose documents, financial records, emails.

Posted by DanielS on Saturday, 05 August 2017 01:44.

Trump administration cornered by Mueller in a grand jury investigation.

Trump was not able to veto new sanctions against Russian as it would have been hapless against Capitol Hill’s unanimity on the measure, but betrayed his lack of innocence anyway by attaching a note of complaint (on behalf of his Russian friends?) to go along with his signing.

It would be a similar dead-ringer of guilt, revealing divided loyalties, if Trump tried to remove Mueller from the position of special investigation into Russian influence over his campaign, even if by the proxy of appointing someone who will do the dirty work where Sessions has recused himself - but now even that weasel-out of hiring someone to replace Sessions for the position to fire Meuller is being closed off; the Trump administration is being cornered, such that all administration personnel will be subject to appear before a grand jury and forced to present any documents, financial records, even emails that might have bearing - material evidence that they probably would not disclose voluntarily. 

Politico, “Could Trump Fire Mueller? It’s Complicated”, 3 August 2017:

But the real question is what Congress would do to stop him.

It turns out that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been calling ducks chickens all year long. In February, April and July, the Senate broke for 10 days or more. Each time, the Senate convened pro forma sessions. Subsequent reporting indicated that this was part of a plan hatched by the Senate GOP to prevent Trump from making any recess appointments at all. So it’s highly unlikely that Trump will be able to make a recess appointment during the upcoming break.

Does this mean Trump can’t ease out Sessions without sparking a messy confirmation process for his successor?

A Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing would inevitably rehash the firing of FBI Director James Comey, and even Republicans would be unlikely to confirm a nominee who didn’t pledge to protect Mueller’s investigation.

But Trump has other cards to play. He can appoint an acting attorney general and never get around to nominating a real one. By default, Rosenstein would take the helm. But Rosenstein is the one who hired Mueller, so if Trump’s goal is to get rid of the special counsel, he needs to pick someone else as acting attorney general.

But while a Grand Jury investigation is anything but good news for Trump and his administration, it is not news failing his incapacity to get rid of the Mueller and the investigation altogether - it is standard operating procedure for a special investigation of this kind:

Washington Post, “Why Mueller’s use of a grand jury confirms what we already knew”, 3 August 2017:

reathless tweets and breaking-news banners notwithstanding, reports that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has empaneled a grand jury in the ongoing investigation of the Trump campaign and potential Russian collusion are entirely unsurprising. This development isn’t a nothing-burger, but it doesn’t suggest anything we didn’t already know.

Grand juries are how federal prosecutors conduct their investigations. The grand jury has the subpoena power that prosecutors need to compel reluctant witnesses to testify under oath. Grand jury subpoenas are also how prosecutors gather documents such as bank records, emails and corporate papers from entities or people who might not produce them voluntarily.

If a preliminary inquiry suggests there is nothing to a case, prosecutors might never empanel a grand jury. They and the FBI might conduct voluntary interviews, examine readily available documents and determine that no more formal inquiry is warranted.

That quick-look, let’s-move-on scenario was never likely here. It’s been clear for months that the allegations are sufficiently serious to merit a full investigation. And in the world of federal prosecutors, that means using a grand jury.

In fact, prosecutors in this probe have been using a grand jury for some time. Grand jury proceedings take place in secret, so there is often not a lot of news about what is happening in the room.

But someone who receives a subpoena to testify or produce documents is not bound by those secrecy rules. They are free to disclose — to the media or to anyone else — that they received a grand jury subpoena or testified in the grand jury. It may be that someone who just received a subpoena contacted a reporter and that has resulted in the “breaking news” stories.

The reality is that any investigation serious enough to warrant the appointment of a special counsel was always likely to involve a grand jury. It was always going to drag on for months. In a case this complex, it takes a long time to investigate the various allegations, subpoena and review relevant documents, and put relevant witnesses before the grand jury. If there are grants of immunity or plea deals to be negotiated, that takes time as well.

Mueller has already hired more than a dozen prosecutors to staff his investigation. Anyone who thought this was going to be over quickly was kidding themselves. The “news” confirms what we already knew.

Finally, it’s important to remember that the existence of a grand jury investigation does not mean criminal charges will necessarily result. Especially in white-collar cases, it’s not unusual for grand jury investigations to close with no charges being filed. The grand jury is the investigative tool that prosecutors use to determine whether charges are warranted – and sometimes the answer is no.

In the past weeks, there have been a number of startling and significant developments in the Russia probe. News that the special counsel is using a grand jury is not one of them.


With Robert, Rebekah Mercer backing, Trump Admin seeks to dismantle “Civil Rights” Consent Decrees

Posted by DanielS on Friday, 04 August 2017 01:52.

Blacks aren’t natural allies of Asians and neither are Jews, with their propensity to impose Abrahamism, its liberalism, Christian submissionaries and Muslim compradors over Asians

Salon, “Donald Trump’s Justice Department is fighting affirmative action for hurting white people”, 2 August 2017:

Attorney General Sessions is furthering an anti-civil rights agenda by investigating affirmative action.

I’m going to begin with an unusual order in approaching this article and surrounding discussion - viz., I will begin by looking at some comments on the matter because they throw light on how the YKW are misleading and manipulating people with a concept of “the left” - not letting it be properly understood as discriminatory social unionization and coalitions thereof, but rather having it oxymoronically accepted as liberalism for all but those unionizations circumscribed and actively represented inasmuch as it is good for YKW interests - themselves stealthily behind the scenes of the unionizations, markedly of the black interests that they have represented - viz., especially as it serves to rupture the effective patterns of their perceived enemies: would-be unionized White and Asian power.

Until recently, around 2008 with the subprime mortgage crisis; and the re-branding of (((Frank Meyer’s paleoconservatism))) as the “Alt-Right”, the YKW had not been so ardent nor effective in getting the public to argue that THE Left was the great problem of our times.

But looking at the essence of “the left” as the YKW have permitted it to be spoken of in the public domain, what we’ve had is Jewish led coalitions, internationally, of Jewish interests and crony capitalist interests; and domestically, in The U.S., primarily Jewish led coalitions of Africans, sundry Mulattoes, where convenient, gays, lesbians and feminists where they might perceive a common axe to grind against White men ...at the same time these Jewish led coalitions have not been organized for sympathy or fairness to Asians interests either.

After this point, 2008, when the YKW and complicit right-wing sell outs had presided over the boom bust cycle to where they stood firmly atop, they no longer had any use for advocating left coalitions of unions against the power - because the YKW had crossed the intersection, they had become the predominant organized power. Suddenly, “the left” became the pervasive enemy. ...and in the background, only one social unionization was tolerated by them - though not called “the left” - it was, of course, the union of Jews; and it became more brazenly right wing and supremacist with regard to other peoples, seeking only to cooperate with their right wing sell outs against those who might collectively organize as leftist coalitions against their elitism, supremacism and imperialism.

Thus, Gavin Chan has been maneuvered by Jewish journalese, a disingenuous framing of discourse, into talking in terms of “THE left” being antagonistic to his interests, without recognizing that this is neither a White Left, nor an Asian Left, but Jewish organized black and other PC left that has been used to attack those who most threaten the YKW - viz. Whites and Asians - as they threaten, especially in coalition, the only social unionization that the YKW want to remain effective - their own.

Gavin Chan · Dallas, Texas
Affirmative action is in fact the biggest middle finger to Asians. But the left leaves this detail out in most affirmative action discussions because Asians don’t fit into the leftist racial narrative.

Affirmative action in place to pay historical reparations, sure, but why at the expense of Asians? It’s absolute bs.

It’s time to end this super racist policy.

Gavin, they’ve given you the middle finger indeed with unions of blacks et. al, represented against you. But, where Elizabeth says..

Elizabeth Rodriguez · Ledyard, Connecticut
Sorry, but I don’t think Trump and Sessions are doing this to fight for Asian rights.

...that is true, they are not. They are doing this as a part of disingenuous quid pro-quo between Jews and complicit White right/alt-right wingers. I.e., they are not doing this for a White Left nor an Asian Left, but for a system controlled by (((the invisible hand))) in cooperation with whomever will take their deals, take their side and share their enemies where they might have the nerve to organize against their supramacism and imperialism.

The proper response is to recognize that a repeal of the Consent Decrees of the 1964 Civil Right Act would help alleviate some of the pressure of active enforcement of reverse discrimination, but it does not go far enough, it is not the White and Asian unionization and necessary coalition thereof - which would constitute, in the case of America, ethno-nationalisms in diaspora.

When you criticize “the racism” of affirmative action you are, in effect, criticizing group genetic unionization, the capacity for accountability thereof and thus to discriminate necessarily in group interests - that is not necessarily the same as being unfair and impervious - and leaves us only the fall-out of a civic nation, its muddles and deleterious demographic mixing - which will be horrifically unjust and destructive to systems- a destruction imposed by cultural Marxism these last 70 years, which operates irrespective of objectivist rules such as civil rights, by whatever stealthy social organization that remains effective behind the scenes, largely YKW.

Let’s focus more on the Salon article(s) now:

Some background: The Consent Decrees are effectively a scheme devised for U.S. Courts to stipulate and oversee enforcement of various concrete measures that must be taken over time to implement reverse discrimination, for all practical purposes, against White people (it eventually worked against Asians as well).

At first blush it appears to be simply good that this reverse discrimination of affirmative action might be overturned - and it really is good to an extent: at least it would repeal oversight of strict and punitive enforcement of (((Red Leftism))) and its defacto imposition of Mulatto supremacism over Whites (and Asians, Mestizos and Amerindians). It would curb the imposed liberalization of White (and Asian) boundaries in force since court decisions and consent decrees of the 50’s and 60’s; and make way for a return to a more generally liberal direction of civil individual rights, on the basis of civic nationalism - that, however, is always disingenuous. Who believes that the system is “objectively” backed?. What is the demographic make-up of this civic nation, where is it headed and which people have the invisible hand that is pulling the socially orchestrating strings that are not acknowledged?

Now that the demographic situation is muddled among the masses and unionized resistance appears near futile as it has been conflated for years with civic liberalism, Jewish interests are entrenched on top with the help of right wing sell outs they’ve bought off. They are now consistent in opposing “the left” - viz., unionized groups of people which might otherwise hold them to account. What they offer instead is civic nationalism and the mechanism of civil rights with no account to systemic backing other than the invisible hand that they, the YKW, and to some extent complicit right wing sell outs, control.

The initial financial boosters of the Trump administration, the people who made Trump’s presidency possible, are Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah. They fall into the complicit with Jews category, at best, they work things out with Jews. Witness their having put Judeo-Christian Steve Bannon (who believes “the dark frorces of the far east are the greatest threat to Western civilization) in charge of the Trump campaign as a condition of their backing. Nevertheless, Robert has long been an opponent of the 1964 Civil Rights Act; and Sessions has obviously been tasked to set about deconstructing the 1964 Civil Rights Act; he was installed along with Bannon into the Trump administration apparently in large part with that aim.

Rebekah and her father Robert Mercer

NPR, 22 March 2017: “Jane Mayer - Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.”

Jane Mayer writes in the New Yorker about Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah Mercer, who have poured millions of dollars into Breitbart News, and who pushed to have Bannon run Trump’s campaign. Robert and daughter Rebekah’s dark money is behind Bannon, Sessions,.. they were behind Flynn as well, would have been for Cruz, Bolton, almost anything but the Clintons.

Robert Mercer’s Opinions on 1964 Civil Rights Act:

According to a March 2017 New Yorker article by investigative journalist Jane Mayer, David Magerman, a former Renaissance employee, said that Mercer called the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the landmark federal statute arising from the civil rights movement of the 1960s, a “major mistake.” According to Magerman, Mercer said that African Americans were economically better off before the civil rights movement, that white racists no longer existed in the United States and that the only racists remaining were African American. Mercer vigorously denies being a white supremacist.

It remains true that White people, including ‘lower class White people” NEVER needed such black unions having their interests imposed upon them, as they were imposed by Jewish legalists, right wing sell outs and liberal stooges.

Thus, a repeal of the Consent Decrees could relieve Whites some - but only after untold damage has already been done to human biological systems and the demographic situation is hideously muddled and swamped - leaving the only one apparent way out in systemic support - through dealing with the YKW: an option that right wing sell outs and the Alternative Right have already exercised.

While they may have some problems with blacks that they may not want to own up to, but would rather look upon as the unfairness of affirmative action according to pure objectivist criteria and civic nationalism, none of these people behind and in the Trump administration have any great affection for Asians either. None of these people are anti-Semitic. The circumstance has all the hallmarks of a continued program of collaboration of elite and Zionist Jewry and right wing sell-out Whites: i.e., now that these folks are on top of the seven power niches, who needs left coalitions, unions of people discriminating in their interests? Especially not against Jewish supremaicism and elitist right wing interests.

The YKW, you see, are the only systemic union allowed in the end, by the cause of Red Leftism. Ever since around 2008 “the left” has been popularized as the great villain by the YKW in power - largely by means of the popularization of the (((paleoconservative underpinned))) Alternative Right.

But, in a word, the liberalism that they offer - even if they would repeal the Consent Decrees (which they will probably not succeed in implementing to any great effect for White interests free of Jewish instigation of pan mixia) - does not go nearly far enough: Systemic White interests need to be unionized such as to afford discriminatory accountability in the interests of our social capital - that is what is called an ethno-nation - and it must exclude the YKW from any pretense that they are White as well. Jews being considered “White” and a part of “Western Civilization” is obviously a key to the Session’s deal that they are floating to repeal the Consent Decrees. Jews cannot be trusted as part of our interest group for their manichean cunning and inevitable destruction to our people, any more than blacks can be a part of our people for their genetic distance and inevitably destructive biopower where it is allowed cohabitation and mixing.

The undoing of the Consent Decrees would be the theoretical ending of a Jewish led implementation of imposed black unionization and extortion against us all.

What we mean by unionization here is what we mean by ethno-nation on the broad scale and genetic interest groups on the subsidiary level - in our exclusionary interests.

The problem arises then with he fact that you still have to live in the world with other people as cooperatively as possible. Drawing upon friend enemy distinctions, most sane people would say Jews and blacks should be first to be most perfectly excluded; as people coordinated with at best, but not cooperated with in expectation of reciprocal good will.

Our best hope is in cooperating with coalitions of Asians, Amerindians and Mestizos against blacks and YKW.

Asian - Mestizo - White interaction is nevertheless, problematic and nobody wants to be naive - but if there is some way to coordinate our unions as a coalition against Jewish and other right wing supremaicsm, and Muslims and against black biopower, then we probably have the best possible coalition.

Of course the trick is how to manage these coalitions with Asians, Amerindians and Mestizos, without us getting abused - particularly with the Alt-Right, Right and Jews ostensibly representing us - The Asians, Amerindians and Mestizos might simply react by trying to swamp us in population if we let them, glibly citing historical grievances that we especially would have had nothing to do with, even historically; or they could do worse, taking guerilla tactics against us as if we are immune to cooperation, perhaps sicking https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wvy5jXXg-E tuck ms 13”>the likes of MS13 on us if we don’t like their taking advantage, etc.

Some people would say that we do not have to coordinate with the better elements of these people; but in a world where we are faced with Jews, Muslims and Africans, and naive and disingenuous Whites, Jewed-out by Christianity, indeed we must try to coordinate with these peoples as left natonalist allies as best we can.

The Salon Article. An ostensible victory to unburden White servitude to blacks, but at what (((price))) and to what real effect, in whose “objective” interests?

Salon, “Donald Trump’s Justice Department is fighting affirmative action for hurting white people”, 2 August 2017:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is furthering an anti-civil rights agenda by investigating affirmative action.

The bromance between President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have soured, but that doesn’t mean the president isn’t supporting the most reactionary aspects of Sessions’ policies.

The Justice Department’s civil rights division is going to have some of its resources allocated toward lawsuits against universities over affirmative action policies perceived as hostile to white people, according to a document reported by The New York Times. The Times also reports that the internal announcement to the civil rights division explicitly asks for lawyers who would be willing to pursue “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

This policy exists as part of a larger anti-civil rights agenda being pursued by Trump and Sessions. In May, Sessions doubled down on the drug war by instructing prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense.” In June, Sessions discontinued the use of consent decrees in civil rights cases, which goes against traditional Justice Department practice as it makes civil rights rulings more difficult to enforce. Last month the Justice Department argued that Title VII protections don’t apply to the LGBT community.

Despite these social justice policies, Sessions has mainly been in the news for his deteriorating relationship with Trump. Although the two were reported to be close friends for years, and through the 2016 election, things soured between them when Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in March. Trump has blamed Sessions for what he perceives as a showing of weakness and said that he wouldn’t have selected Sessions as attorney general if he’d known he would do that.

Salon, “Trump Administration quietly rolls back Civil Rights efforts across federal government”, 15 June 2017: Previously unannounced directives will limit the Department of Justice’s use of civil rights enforcement tools - Consent Decrees

Topics: Civil Rights, Department of Justice, Jeff Sessions, ProPublica, Trump Administration, Politics News

For decades, the Department of Justice has used court-enforced agreements to protect civil rights, successfully desegregating school systems, reforming police departments, ensuring access for the disabled and defending the religious.

Now, under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ appears to be turning away from this storied tool, called consent decrees. Top officials in the DOJ civil rights division have issued verbal instructions through the ranks to seek settlements without consent decrees — which would result in no continuing court oversight.

The move is just one part of a move by the Trump administration to limit federal civil rights enforcement. Other departments have scaled back the power of their internal divisions that monitor such abuses. In a previously unreported development, the Education Department last week reversed an Obama-era reform that broadened the agency’s approach to protecting rights of students. The Labor Department and the Environmental Protection Agency have also announced sweeping cuts to their enforcement.

“At best, this administration believes that civil rights enforcement is superfluous and can be easily cut. At worst, it really is part of a systematic agenda to roll back civil rights,” said Vanita Gupta, the former acting head of the DOJ’s civil rights division under President Barack Obama.

Consent decrees have not been abandoned entirely by the DOJ, a person with knowledge of the instructions said. Instead, there is a presumption against their use — attorneys should default to using settlements without court oversight unless there is an unavoidable reason for a consent decree. The instructions came from the civil rights division’s office of acting Assistant Attorney General Tom Wheeler and Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Gore. There is no written policy guidance.

Devin O’Malley, a spokesperson for the DOJ, declined to comment for this story.

Consent decrees can be a powerful tool, and spell out specific steps that must be taken to remedy the harm. These are agreed to by both parties and signed off on by a judge, whom the parties can appear before again if the terms are not being met. Though critics say the DOJ sometimes does not enforce consent decrees well enough, they are more powerful than settlements that aren’t overseen by a judge and have no built-in enforcement mechanism.

Such settlements have “far fewer teeth to ensure adequate enforcement,” Gupta said.

Consent decrees often require agencies or municipalities to take expensive steps toward reform. Local leaders and agency heads then can point to the binding court authority when requesting budget increases to ensure reforms. Without consent decrees, many localities or government departments would simply never make such comprehensive changes, said William Yeomans, who spent 26 years at the DOJ, mostly in the civil rights division.

“They are key to civil rights enforcement,” he said. “That’s why Sessions and his ilk don’t like them.”

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Former CIA operatives on Russian detail for years believe collusion is a real possibility.

Posted by DanielS on Thursday, 03 August 2017 00:32.

Rob Goldstone, left, shown in contact with Trump prior to his son’s meeting with Goldstone that promised high level Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Oh, Wait. Maybe It Was Collusion.

New York Times, Op-Ed Contributors JOHN SIPHER and STEVE HALL, August 2, 2017:


Did the Trump campaign collude with Russian agents trying to manipulate the course of the 2016 election? Some analysts have argued that the media has made too much of the collusion narrative; that Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Kremlin-linked Russians last year was probably innocent (if ill-advised); or that Russian operatives probably meant for the meeting to be discovered because they were not trying to recruit Mr. Kushner and Mr. Trump as agents, but mainly trying to undermine the American political system.

We disagree with these arguments. We like to think of ourselves as fair-minded and knowledgeable, having between us many years of experience with the C.I.A. dealing with Russian intelligence services. It is our view not only that the Russian government was running some sort of intelligence operation involving the Trump campaign, but also that it is impossible to rule out the possibility of collusion between the two.

The original plan drawn up by the Russian intelligence services was probably multilayered. They could have begun an operation intended to disrupt the presidential campaign, as well as an effort to recruit insiders to help them over time — the two are not mutually exclusive. It is the nature of Russian covert actions (or as the Russians would call them, “active measures”) to adapt over time, providing opportunities for other actions that extend beyond the original intent.

It is entirely plausible, for example, that the original Russian hack of the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers was an effort simply to collect intelligence and get an idea of the plans of the Democratic Party and its presidential candidate. Once derogatory information emerged from that operation, the Russians might then have seen an opportunity for a campaign to influence or disrupt the election. When Donald Trump Jr. responded “I love it” to proffers from a Kremlin-linked intermediary to provide derogatory information obtained by Russia on Hillary Clinton, the Russians might well have thought that they had found an inside source, an ally, a potential agent of influence on the election.

The goal of the Russian spy game is to nudge a person to step over the line into an increasingly conspiratorial relationship. First, for a Russian intelligence recruitment operation to work, they would have had some sense that Donald Trump Jr. was a promising target. Next, as the Russians often do, they made a “soft” approach, setting the bait for their target via the June email sent by Rob Goldstone, a British publicist, on behalf of a Russian pop star, Emin Agalarov.

They then employed a cover story — adoptions — to make it believable to the outside world that there was nothing amiss with the proposed meetings. They bolstered this idea by using cutouts, nonofficial Russians, for the actual meeting, enabling the Trump team to claim — truthfully — that there were no Russian government employees at the meeting and that it was just former business contacts of the Trump empire who were present.

When the Trump associates failed to do the right thing by informing the F.B.I., the Russians probably understood that they could take the next step toward a more conspiratorial relationship. They knew what bait to use and had a plan to reel in the fish once it bit.

While we don’t know for sure whether the email solicitation was part of an intelligence ploy, there are some clues. A month after the June meeting at Trump Tower, WikiLeaks, a veritable Russian front, released a dump of stolen D.N.C. emails. The candidate and campaign surrogates increasingly mouthed talking points that seemed taken directly from Russian propaganda outlets, such as that there had been a terrorist attack on a Turkish military base, when no such attack had occurred. Also, at this time United States intelligence reportedly received indications from European intelligence counterparts about odd meetings between Russians and Trump campaign representatives overseas.

Of course, to determine whether collusion occurred, we would have to know whether the Trump campaign continued to meet with Russian representatives subsequent to the June meeting. The early “courting” stage is almost always somewhat open and discoverable. Only after the Russian intelligence officer develops a level of control can the relationship be moved out of the public eye. John Brennan, the former director of the C.I.A., recently testified, “Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late.”

Even intelligence professionals who respect one another and who understand the Russians can and often do disagree. On the Trump collusion question, the difference of opinion comes down to this: Would the Russians use someone like Mr. Goldstone to approach the Trump campaign? Our friend and former colleague Daniel Hoffman argued in this paper that this is unlikely — that the Russians would have relied on trained agents. We respectfully disagree. We believe that the Russians might well have used Mr. Goldstone. We also believe the Russians would have seen very little downside to trying to recruit someone on the Trump team — a big fish. If the fish bit and they were able to reel it in, the email from Mr. Goldstone could remain hidden and, since it was from an acquaintance, would be deniable if found. (Exactly what the Trump team is doing now.)

If the fish didn’t take the bait, the Russians would always have had the option to weaponize the information later to embarrass the Trump team. In addition, if the Russians’ first objective was chaos and disruption, the best way to accomplish that would have been to have someone on the inside helping. It is unlikely that the Russians would not use all the traditional espionage tools available to them.

However, perhaps the most telling piece of information may be the most obvious. Donald Trump himself made numerous statements in support of Russia, Russian intelligence and WikiLeaks during the campaign. At the same time, Mr. Trump and his team have gone out of their way to hide contacts with Russians and lied to the public about it. Likewise, Mr. Trump has attacked those people and institutions that could get to the bottom of the affair. He fired his F.B.I. director James Comey, criticized and bullied his attorney general and deputy attorney general, denigrated the F.B.I. and the C.I.A., and assails the news media, labeling anything he dislikes “fake news.” Innocent people don’t tend to behave this way.

The overall Russian intent is clear: disruption of the United States political system and society, a goal that in the Russian view was best served by a Trump presidency. What remains to be determined is whether the Russians also attempted to suborn members of the Trump team in an effort to gain their cooperation. This is why the investigation by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is so important. It is why the F.B.I. counterintelligence investigation, also quietly progressing in the background, is critical. Because while a Russian disruption operation is certainly plausible, it is not inconsistent with a much darker Russian goal: gaining an insider ally at the highest levels of the United States government.

In short, and regrettably, collusion is not off the table.

John Sipher (@john_sipher), a former chief of station for the C.I.A., worked for over 27 years in Russia, Europe and Asia and now writes for The Cipher Brief and works for CrossLead, a consulting company. Steve Hall (@StevenLHall1) is a former C.I.A. chief of Russian operations and a CNN national security analyst.

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Trump’s business cronies proceed full speed ahead in disregard of environmental systems

Posted by DanielS on Tuesday, 18 July 2017 13:16.

Independent, “Climate change denier Scott Pruitt’s appointment to run EPA would be ‘unprecedented assault’ on its work,” 7 Feb 2017.

One issue that state discretion would Not handle better is the overseeing and coordination of environmental matters, which are, by definition, of interrelated systems that do not heed political bounds, especially not smaller ones.

Trump’s crass assault on our earthly home was launched with his appointment of business plant and climate change denier, Scott Pruitt, as head of the EPA: fox in charge of the hen house. The assault is now going into overdrive.

Daily Caller, “House Republicans Lay Out Their Plan To Rein In The EPA”, 18, 2017:

House Republicans released their proposal to balance the federal budget in 10 years, which included their plans to rein in the regulatory power of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Republicans plan three broad reforms for the EPA: reduce its funding, cut global warming and programs and eliminate the agency’s policy office.

“The Environmental Protection Agency has long overreached in its duties,” the House budget resolution reads, released Tuesday.

“While everyone supports protecting the environment and promoting clean air and clean water, the states are better positioned to address their individual environmental concerns and balance those responsibilities with the concerns of workers, small-businesses, and manufacturers,” the resolution adds.

However, the House’s plan for the EPA would cut the agency’s budget 80 percent less than what the White house recommended in its May budget proposal.

A House appropriations bill introduced days ago gives the EPA a $7.5 billion budget in 2017, or $528 million less than the agency’s 2017 budget. The bill also ignored many Trump administration requests to cut dozens of EPA programs. That bill is still making its way through committee.

The House appropriations bill would give $31.4 billion to federal environmental programs at the EPA, Department of the Interior and other agencies. That’s $824 million below 2017 levels, but $4.3 billion less than the White House’s request.

The White House recommended cutting the EPA’s budget $2.6 billion, or more than 30 percent, along with eliminating dozens of programs, particularly those enforcing Obama-era regulations and climate programs.

The budget proposal also included plans to eliminate duplicative energy programs and wasteful spending to help get “federal government out of the way and allow the private sector to do its job and flourish.”

That effort largely focuses on reducing Energy Department spending energy subsidies and stopping the agency from issuing any more loan guarantees — the same program that funded Solyndra.

“Eliminating these Obama-era pet programs will help us reduce federal spending in the energy sector and promote private-sector energy production and innovation,” the House budget document reads.

Republicans claim that their plan would balance the federal budget within 10 years.

Democrats and environmentalists are already pushing back on the Republican resolution.

House lawmakers will mark up the budget resolution Wednesday, and it’s expected to pass the chamber. Senate Democrats could pose problems for the budget resolution’s path to President Donald Trump’s desk.


Most thorough story so far on the Trump-Russia connections

Posted by DanielS on Thursday, 13 July 2017 07:11.


The web connecting the Trump administration to Russia

From Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to former campaign director Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s allies have business and personal connections to Russia. As Congress and the FBI look into Russia’s involvement with the 2016 election, those connect (Natalie Fertig and Patrick Gleason McClatchy).

McClatchy DC, “Trump-Russia investigators probe Jared Kushner-run digital operation”, 12 July 2017:

WASHINGTON

Investigators at the House and Senate Intelligence committees and the Justice Department are examining whether the Trump campaign’s digital operation – overseen by Jared Kushner – helped guide Russia’s sophisticated voter targeting and fake news attacks on Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Congressional and Justice Department investigators are focusing on whether Trump’s campaign pointed Russian cyber operatives to certain voting jurisdictions in key states – areas where Trump’s digital team and Republican operatives were spotting unexpected weakness in voter support for Hillary Clinton, according to several people familiar with the parallel inquiries.

Also under scrutiny is the question of whether Trump associates or campaign aides had any role in assisting the Russians in publicly releasing thousands of emails, hacked from the accounts of top Democrats, at turning points in the presidential race, mainly through the London-based transparency web site WikiLeaks.

Rep. Adam Schiff of California, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told McClatchy he wants to know whether Russia’s “fake or damaging news stories” were “coordinated in any way in terms of targeting or in terms of timing or in terms of any other measure … with the (Trump) campaign.”

By Election Day, an automated Kremlin cyberattack of unprecedented scale and sophistication had delivered critical and phony news about the Democratic presidential nominee to the Twitter and Facebook accounts of millions of voters. Some investigators suspect the Russians targeted voters in swing states, even in key precincts.

Russia’s operation used computer commands knowns as “bots” to collect and dramatically heighten the reach of negative or fabricated news about Clinton, including a story in the final days of the campaign accusing her of running a pedophile ring at a Washington pizzeria.

One source familiar with Justice’s criminal probe said investigators doubt Russian operatives controlling the so-called robotic cyber commands that fetched and distributed fake news stories could have independently “known where to specifically target … to which high-impact states and districts in those states.”

All of the sources spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, is confidential.

Top Democrats on the committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election have signaled the same.

Schiff said he wants the House panel to determine whether Trump aides helped Russia time its cyberattacks or target certain voters and whether there was “any exchange of information, any financial support funneled to organizations that were doing this kind of work.”

Trump son-in-law Kushner, now a senior adviser to the president and the only current White House aide known to be deemed a “person of interest” in the Justice Department investigation, appears to be under the microscope in several respects. His real estate finances and December meetings with Russia’s ambassador and the head of a sanctioned, state-controlled bank are also being examined.

Kushner’s “role as a possible cut-out or conduit for Moscow’s influence operations in the elections,” including his niche overseeing the digital operations, will be closely looked at, said the source knowledgeable about the Justice Department inquiry.

Kushner joined Donald Trump Jr. and Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort at a newly disclosed June 2016 meeting with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in New York.. The meeting, revealed by The New York Times, followed emails in which Trump Jr. was told the lawyer for the Russian government would provide him with incriminating information on Clinton and he replied “If it’s what you say I love it.”

That disclosure could only serve to heighten interest in whether there was digital collaboration.

Mike Carpenter, who in January left a senior Pentagon post where he worked on Russia matters, also has suspicions about collaboration between the campaign and Russia’s cyber operatives.

“There appears to have been significant cooperation between Russia’s online propaganda machine and individuals in the United States who were knowledgeable about where to target the disinformation,” he said, without naming any American suspects.

Trump has repeatedly repudiated or equivocated about the finding of four key intelligence agencies – the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and the Directorate of National Intelligence – that Russian cyber operatives meddled with the U.S. election.

Last Friday, during their first face-to-face meeting, Trump questioned Putin about Russia’s role in the election meddling and Putin denied culpability, said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was present. Trump then said the two countries should find ways to move forward in their relationship, Tillerson said.

A Russian official who was at the meeting said the two sides agreed to form a working group to address cybersecurity, including interference in other countries’ internal affairs. However, Trump backtracked Sunday night, saying in a tweet that he doesn’t believe such an effort can happen.

As more has been learned about the breadth of the Russian cyber onslaught, congressional Democrats have shown growing resolve to demand that the Republican-controlled intelligence committees fully investigate ways in which Trump associates may have conspired with the Russians.

READ MORE...


Massive iceberg breaks away from Antarctica

Posted by DanielS on Wednesday, 12 July 2017 18:14.

CNN, “Massive iceberg breaks away from Antarctica”, 12 July 2017:

It’s clear that global warming, caused largely by burning fossil fuels and agricultural practices, is contributing to the broader destabilization of Antarctica, said Eric Rignot, professor of Earth systems sciences at the University of California, Irvine, and a senior research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“This break-up signals that the ice shelf got too thin,” Rignot said in an email. “It got thinner because climate has been warming, over decades; the ice shelf will eventually collapse in the coming decades. This is absolutely related to climate warming. The ice shelf front has not calved this far back in 125 years (first seen by Carl Larsen in 1893) and Larsen C is on a course to collapse, very reminiscent of what happened to Larsen B in 2002.”

“This is yet another wake up call,” he said, “that Antarctica is on the rise and we should be concerned about what that means for future sea level.”


3 Seas Initiative pursuing independence from Gazprom via Trump meeting in Warsaw

Posted by DanielS on Saturday, 08 July 2017 10:02.

Visigrad Post, “Three Seas Initiative: Trump in Warsaw supports the project”, 8 July 2017:

Poland, Warsaw – Poland received the US President Trump alongside with representatives of the countries of the Three Seas Initiative, a recent Central European project. An “incredibly successful” meeting, according to Donald Trump.

For his first press conference abroad, US President Donald Trump came on July 5 and 6 to the Polish capital city of Warsaw. He attended the meeting of the Three Seas Initiative – reuniting the Baltic countries, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria-, organized by Poland.

“America is eager to expand our partnership with you. We welcome stronger ties of trade and commerce as you grow your economies and we are committed to securing your access to alternate sources of energy so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy,” told the US President referring to the former Russian monopoly of gaz supplying in the region.

From an economical project to a political one?

Poland and Croatia initiated the Three Seas Initiative (3SI) a year ago. All the twelve members of the 3SI were – except for Austria – under the rule of USSR until the fall of the iron curtain. Since 2007, all of them are part of the European Union, but remain less rich and developed than western member states. Also most of the critical roads, pipelines and rail services run on an east-west corridor, mainly due to former Soviet and current German dominance.

The 3SI’s goal is therefore to improve infrastructure and trade and to develop more and better connections in energy, transportation and digital communications along a north-south axis, so the members of the group might benefit from more mutual exchanges and investments, while strengthening their ties and getting more cohesive.

The 3SI has already some big plans; The Via Carpathia, a huge highway connecting the Baltic Sea ( Kalipedia, Lithuania ) to the Aegean Sea ( Thessaloniki, Greece ); The LNG terminals connecting pipeline, from Croatia to Poland (Croatia plans to finish the construction of its LNG terminal in Krk in 2019); And the construction of the pipeline from the Black Sea through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Austria. All these heavy infrastructure projects are also pleasing China, which invests more and more in the region and takes also part in some of the improvements of infrastructure, for both Central European and Chinese interests.

Though, some critics rise their voices regarding the 3SI. As the core fo the 3SI, V4 (the Visegrád group: Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary) leads an anti-federalization fight and refuse the EU’s migrant policy, observers fear that the 3SI would become an extension of the V4 and would lead the EU to split.

US plan? Polish dominance scheme? Response to the two-speed Europe?

The summit of Warsaw, attended by Donald Trump, raised many questions. The 3SI is quite close to the Polish project of Miedzymore (Between the Seas) known as Intermarium. As such, some political observers see this new project, led by the current conservative PiS (Law and Justice) Polish government – which is close to Trump and its policies, and distrusts neo-cons – as a way to achieve regional domination with the support of the USA. Poland is the biggest military in Central Europe, and the main economics.

It is also recalled by commentators that the Intermarium is a kind of anti-Russian geopolitical device. Proposed during the interwar period, the Intermarium was aimed to block and counter the Soviet Union, and therefore one important thing is to be noted: while the Intermarium included nowadays Ukraine, the 3SI does not, and extends more towards the West, covering all Central Europe and Eastern Balkans; And adding another shore to the project.

Poland and Croatia are also known to have long-term good relations with the USA. It is therefore suspected that since the 3SI is a project initiated by both Croatia – and more exactly by its current President, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, senior officer of NATO – and Poland – one of the most ardent partisan of NATO – the 3SI might be planned also to serve US interests.

Even if the relation between the USA and Russia shows a relative improvement since the beginning of the Trump presidency, many suspect the USA to still wish to dispose of a European buffer zone at the gates of Russia. And they argue their point by recalling the recent American missile complex established in Poland and Romania and the current conflict in Ukraine.

During his speech, Trump expressed his satisfaction for the opening of the Polish LNG terminal to US suppliers of gaz. “The United States is proud to see that our abundant energy resources are already helping the Three Seas Nations achieve much-needed energy diversification,” told Donald Trump in front of the leaders of the 3SI, still mainly dependent on Russian gaz. He then quickly continued his speech by inciting CEEC to invest in US technology and weapons. Polish President Duda said he hopes for a long-term contract regarding supplying of liquid gaz.

READ MORE...


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