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Truth Is A Kremlin Talking Point – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on October 18, 2019

I can remember when everyone had or needed “gravitas”. Now the media has a new buzzphrase.

Parasites feeding off each other.

In response to a statement during the Democratic primary debates by presidential candidate Andrew Yang that both Russia and the United States have engaged in election interference, liberal pundit Molly McKew tweeted, “I now retract any vaguely nice thing I ever said about Yang knowing technology things because he answered the question on Putin with moral equivalency and a Kremlin talking point.”

If you’re in the mood for some depressing amusement, just type the words “Kremlin talking point” without quotation marks into Twitter’s search engine and scroll through all the results which come up. Just keep on scrolling and observe how this label, “Kremlin talking point”, gets bleated by mainstream empire loyalists to dismiss subjects ranging from the rigging of Democratic primaries to criticism of US regime change wars to endless US warmongering to concerns about new cold war escalations to disliking John McCain to criticism of Nancy Pelosi. Any criticism of the status quo which cannot be labeled false or misleading gets labeled a “talking point” of Russia/Putin/the Kremlin by those who support and defend the status quo of US-centralized imperialist world hegemony.

Yang’s statement about US intervention in foreign elections is indisputably true, of course. Both alternative and mainstream media outlets have thoroughly documented the fact that the US government’s own data shows them to have interfered in scores of foreign elections, far more than any other nation on earth. This includes an interference in Russia’s elections in the nineties that was so brazen they made a Hollywood movie about it. Former CIA Director James Woolsey openly admitted on Fox News last year that the US still interferes in foreign elections to this very day.

These are not conspiracy theories. These are not even secrets. These are facts. But because they are inconvenient facts, they get labeled “Kremlin talking points” by those whose job it is to defend the status quo.

Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard was also branded with the accusation of voicing “Kremlin talking points” for remarks she made during last night’s debate. In her case those “talking points” consisted of the indisputable fact that the bloodshed in Syria can be blamed on US politicians from both parties, and the indisputable fact that the US has armed extremist militias in that nation with the goal of effecting regime change.

“Literally a Kremlin talking point, but whatever,” tweeted #Resistance pundit Leah McElrath in response to Gabbard’s debate comments.

“It is a fact that the Russian talking point for years has been that the United States arms al-Qaeda in Syria. Tulsi Gabbard just said it on national television,” tweeted journalist Scott Stedman.

“How odd to listen to Tulsi Gabbard mouthing Syrian and Russian talking points on the Democratic debate stage…sorry but no one thinks US troops withdrawn by Trump were there as part of a ‘regime change war’ by the US,” tweeted Susan Glasser of CNN and The New Yorker.

So the establishment narrative managers now have an official three-word debunk of any criticism of the establishment which employs them, which applies even when that criticism is fully based in facts and reality. Facts are a Kremlin talking point, and anyone who believes them is Russian. Facts are Russian. Truth is Russian. Skepticism is Russian. Asking questions is Russian. Dissent is Russian. Revolution is Russian.

So let’s all get Russian then, baby. Let’s all fill our heads with objectively true Kremlin talking points and Cossack dance our way to a fact-based relationship with reality. Get as Russian as possible. Get aggressively Russian. Get offensively Russian. Get so Russian it hurts. Get so Russian it curls Louise Mensch’s hair. If they are going to start telling us that truth is Russian, then the only appropriate thing to say in response is dasvidaniya.


Thanks for reading! The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitter, checking out my podcast on either YoutubesoundcloudApple podcasts or Spotify, following me on Steemitthrowing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet merchandisebuying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers. For more info on who I am, where I stand, and what I’m trying to do with this platform, click here. Everyone, racist platforms excluded, has my permission to republish or use any part of this work (or anything else I’ve written) in any way they like free of charge.


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Republicans for Empire and Intervention – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on October 18, 2019

It is not an unmitigated bad for the U.S. government to hammer out a position in this world of states in which the rightful interests of the broad American public are maintained and our country is defended properly. The country need not be isolationist because peaceful trade is in our interest.

But it is bad, terribly bad, when this rightful position is corrupted into empire, worldwide interventions and an attempt at creating a global system in which the U.S. government predominates.


It’s not news to readers of LRC that the Republican Party, until Trump came into the picture, has been strongly pro-empire and pro-intervention worldwide. The reasons for this are that it satisfies the interests of money and power and ideology. The Democratic Party has been and still is also pro-empire and pro-intervention for the same reasons. The Republicrats are politicians captured by these interests, which control information and policy via the deep state and which control the parties through campaign contributions, payoffs, blackmail, information control, ideological dissemination, media, intelligence agencies, the revolving door, recruiting, in other words, the swamp.

Trump is attacking this complex of forces. That is why he’s under constant attack from these Republicrats, the combination of Democrats and Republicans who share and perpetuate the same policies of empire through one administration after another.

It is not an unmitigated bad for the U.S. government to hammer out a position in this world of states in which the rightful interests of the broad American public are maintained and our country is defended properly. The country need not be isolationist because peaceful trade is in our interest.

But it is bad, terribly bad, when this rightful position is corrupted into empire, worldwide interventions and an attempt at creating a global system in which the U.S. government predominates. This attempt at making America the sole superpower is doomed to fail. It has been proven to be exceedingly bloody, taking millions of lives. It lines the pockets of narrow interest groups who benefit from continual warfare and the empire’s extension. Meanwhile, the costs are incredibly high. The debt of the U.S. government is nearly $23 trillion, which is $185,000 per taxpayer. This debt excludes other legislated obligations, which may well come to $200 trillion.

In other words, empire is a policy that’s breaking America’s back to enrich a relatively few, to enrich the swamp-dwellers and to delight the globalists who want to see America fail, such as George Soros.

Now, the occasion for this brief statement is a report of certain remarks made by George W. Bush, one of our ex-presidents who is a Republicrat.

Bush, who is responsible for two terrible and terribly expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, criticized Trump’s withdrawal of a mere 1,000 of troops from Syria as isolationist. He’s totally wrong. He’s totally in thrall to the idea of empire and intervention. He still fails to see the downsides. He still fails to see his own failures and monstrous errors.

He was at a conference with Bill Clinton beside him, who likewise is a strong proponent of empire, having extended NATO and bombed in the old Yugoslavia. All that was needed was Obama to complete the trio of presidents who favor empire. Well, not quite. We’d need to throw in a few Congresses who have funded these interventions.

Against this Trump stands, and not even wholeheartedly but in a piecemeal, inconsistent and halting fashion, one that we hope nonetheless is stepwise in a single direction, which is to disengage this country from empire and intervention as a policy that’s sold as being sound and even said to be right, when it is clearly unsound and wrong.

Bush said “We are becoming isolationist and that’s dangerous for the sake of peace.” Wrong. Taking down empire, disengaging from tar pits and sinkholes, in favor of proper engagements and relations with other states and peoples is not isolationist. It’s FOR the sake of peace, not dangerous to it. Bush’s thinking is addled and so is that of many interventionist Republicrats who tell us that peace requires continual war. Peace of our people, of Americans, requires constructive engagements with other peoples according to moral and pragmatic principles, as much as can be mustered in a world in which there are many states. Peace for us requires that we have proper defenses and a readiness to defend ourselves. Peace does not require peace everywhere in the world that’s insured or brought about by Americans; and it cannot be achieved anyway, if only because of cost, the resistance of opposing forces, and the inability to create ideal societies. The aim of peace everywhere in the world is utopian and unobtainable. We cannot even achieve this in our own country. But this faulty aim is what is sold to Americans as a goal in order to justify the empire overseas and to justify powerful governments domestically.

A sounder aim is to shun taking over the world in one form or another, but instead to accept the presence of many different countries, states, governing entities, peoples and societies. They have their problems, we have ours, and one of our problems is that our system is running amok in the hands of Republicrats with their flawed ideas. A sounder aim is peace here at home, and this means rejecting government-imposed collectivist solutions. Communism is widespread in America, but it is far from peaceful. Every one of our communist institutions relies upon coercion through laws that Congress imposed on us. We must reject this unrecognized and applauded communism in all its forms. Otherwise, America will die from the communist wounds already inflicted on her.

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Quotes From Dead Guys

Posted by M. C. on October 17, 2019

…For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.

Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match…President John F. Kennedy
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City
April 27, 1961

“The most urgent necessity is, not that the State should teach, but that it should allow education. All monopolies are detestable, but the worst of all is the monopoly of education.” – Frederic Bastiat

“Armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.” – James Madison

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#Lest You Did Not Know: A “Tiny Piece” of Unknown History- This US soldier ‘found alive’ in Vietnam 44 years after being left behind

Posted by M. C. on October 17, 2019

Not so surprising considering John McCain did such an admirable job of covering up the ‘pows left behind’ story.

6. On Nov. 11, 1992, Dolores Alfond, the sister of missing airman Capt. Victor Apodaca and chair of the National Alliance of Families, an organization of relatives of POW/MIAs, testified at one of the Senate committee’s public hearings. She asked for information about data the government had gathered from electronic devices used in a classified program known as PAVE SPIKE.

McCain attended that committee hearing specifically to confront Alfond because of her criticism of the panel’s work. He bellowed and berated her for quite a while. His face turning anger-pink, he accused her of “denigrating” his “patriotism.” The bullying had its effect—she began to cry.

After a pause Alfond recovered and tried to respond to his scorching tirade, but McCain simply turned away and stormed out of the room. The PAVE SPIKE file has never been declassified. We still don’t know anything about those 20 POWs.

It’s not clear whether the taped confession McCain gave to his captors to avoid further torture has played a role in his postwar behavior in the Senate. That confession was played endlessly over the prison loudspeaker system at Hoa Lo—to try to break down other prisoners—and was broadcast over Hanoi’s state radio. Reportedly, he confessed to being a war criminal who had bombed civilian targets. The Pentagon has a copy of the confession but will not release it. Also, no outsider I know of has ever seen a non-redacted copy of the debriefing of McCain when he returned from captivity, which is classified but could be made public by McCain.

via #Lest You Did Not Know: A “Tiny Piece” of Unknown History- This US soldier ‘found alive’ in Vietnam 44 years after being left behind

A NEW DOCUMENTARY called Unclaimed claims to introduce the world to former Army Sergeant John Robertson, lost over Vietnam in 1968 and left behind for over four decades.

The Toronto Star reports Edmonton filmmaker Michael Jorgenson found Robertson, 76, living in a rural Vietnam village stooped with age, unable to speak English, remember his birthday, or names of the children he left behind in the U.S.

It’s a story difficult to understand considering the US military places such a priority on bringing every service member home, whenever possible.

Jorgenson told the Toronto Star that he was also skeptical when Vietnam vet Tom Faunce came to him and explained a man he’d found in Vietnam was a former “Army brother” listed as killed in action and forgotten. He says he became convinced only after going to Vietnam and meeting Robertson himself.

What he found was revealed to filmgoers in an invitation only screening of “Unclaimed” at a Toronto theatre earlier this month.

From The Toronto Star: There is physical proof of Robertson’s birthplace, collected in dramatic fashion onscreen; a tearful meeting in Vietnam with a soldier who was trained by Robertson in 1960 and said he knew him on sight; and a heart-wrenching reunion with his only surviving sister — 80-year-old Jean Robertson-Holly — in Edmonton in December 2012 that left the audience at the Toronto screening wiping away tears.

Jorgenson encountered so much resistance from the US military making his film that he says he’s convinced one “high-placed government source” was telling the truth when he said, “It’s not that the Vietnamese won’t let him (Robertson) go; it’s that our government doesn’t want him.”

Wringing out the details and talking to Robertson’s American family seems to have been a gut-wrenching affair. The children whose names he couldn’t recall declined DNA testing at the last minute with no explanation.

None of that mattered to Roberston who says he fulfilled his wish of coming to America and seeing his kids one more time before he dies.

Robertson’s now back in Vietnam, with no desire to leave and Unclaimed opens in the USA on 12 May, at the G.I. Film Festival in Washington, DC.

– Robert Johnson


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Watch “NYC Will Fine You For Saying ‘Illegal Alien'” on YouTube

Posted by M. C. on October 17, 2019

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Remember the FBI’s promise it wasn’t abusing the NSA’s data on US citizens? Well, guess what… • The Register

Posted by M. C. on October 17, 2019

The FBI said it had no way to measure it the number of searches it ran.

But that, it turns out, was a bold-faced lie. Because we now know that the FBI carried out 6,800 queries of the database in a single day in December 2017 using social security numbers. In other words, the FBI was using the NSA’s database at least 80 times more frequently than the NSA itself.

By Kieren McCarthy in San Francisco

Turns out the Feds make the CIA and NSA actually look good

The FBI routinely misused a database, gathered by the NSA with the specific purpose of searching for foreign intelligence threats, by searching it for everything from vetting to spying on relatives.

In doing so, it not only violated the law and the US constitution but knowingly lied to the faces of congressmen who were asking the intelligence services about this exact issue at government hearings, hearings that were intended to find if there needed to be additional safeguards added to the program.

That is the upshot of newly declassified rulings of the secret FISC court that decides issues of spying and surveillance within the United States.

On Tuesday, in a year-old ruling [PDF] that remains heavily redacted, everything that both privacy advocates and a number of congressmen – particularly Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) – feared was true of the program turned out to be so, but worse.

Even though the program in question – Section 702 – is specifically designed only to be used for US government agencies to be allowed to search for evidence of foreign intelligence threats, the FBI gave itself carte blanche to search the same database for US citizens by stringing together a series of ridiculous legal justifications about data being captured “incidentally” and subsequent queries of that data not requiring a warrant because it had already been gathered.

Despite that situation, the FBI repeatedly assured lawmakers and the courts that it was using its powers in a very limited way. Senator Wyden was not convinced and used his position to ask questions about the program, the answers to which raised ever greater concerns.

For example, while the NSA was able to outline the process by which its staff was allowed to make searches on the database, including who was authorized to dig further, and it was able to give a precise figure for how many searches there had been, the FBI claimed it was literally not able to do so.

Free for all

Any FBI agent was allowed to search the database, it revealed under questioning, any FBI agent was allowed to de-anonymize the data and the FBI claimed it did not have a system to measure the number of search requests its agents carried out.

In a year-long standoff between Senator Wyden and the Director of National Intelligence, the government told Congress it was not able to get a number for the number of US citizens whose details had been brought up in searches – something that likely broke the Fourth Amendment.

Today’s release of the FISC secret opinion reveals that giving the FBI virtually unrestricted access to the database led to exactly the sort of behavior that people were concerned about: vast number of searches, including many that were not remotely justified…

The FBI said it had no way to measure it the number of searches it ran.

But that, it turns out, was a bold-faced lie. Because we now know that the FBI carried out 6,800 queries of the database in a single day in December 2017 using social security numbers. In other words, the FBI was using the NSA’s database at least 80 times more frequently than the NSA itself…

Or, in other words, the FBI was breaking the law and the constitution. And it did so tens of thousands of times between 2017 and 2018 – while at the same time promising Congress that everything was fine and it was only using the database for rare instances connected to national security.

To say Senator Wyden is unhappy about this turn of events would be an understatement. “Last year, when Congress reauthorized Section 702 of FISA, it accepted the FBI’s outright refusal to account for all its warrantless backdoor searches of Americans,” he said today in a statement.

“Today’s release demonstrates how baseless the FBI’s position was and highlights Congress’ constitutional obligation to act independently and strengthen the checks and balances on government surveillance.

“The information released today also reveals serious abuses in the FBI’s backdoor searches, underscoring the need for the government to seek a warrant before searching through mountains of private data on Americans. Finally, I am concerned that the government has redacted information in these releases that the public deserves to know.”

In short, little had changed in the security services’ approach since Edward Snowden revealed the scale and depth of spying operations carried out against US citizens and foreigners. Given the slightest opportunity to spy on citizens, the FBI will take it, lie about it and when finally caught, promise to do better next time. ®

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Funny J Edgar Memes of 2017 on SIZZLE | Church






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Tough Testing – Taki’s Magazine – Taki’s Magazine

Posted by M. C. on October 17, 2019

This country needs to reform testing, to get it back to doing the job it did fairly well in the past. But few are interested in discussing how to fix testing because that would require honesty, which tends to get you canceled these days.

Of course, Asians get, by far, the highest test scores of all, and have been widening the gap in this century…They tend to confuse The Narrative.

by Steve Sailer

One of the less remarked-upon gender gaps is in college attendance: Young men have fallen far behind young women. Males now make up only 43 percent of college students despite continuing to earn slightly higher average scores on college admission tests.

Perversely, journalist Paul Tough’s much-praised new book, The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us, calls for America to worsen this inequality by dumping the SAT and ACT for being biased toward boys.

To Tough, college entrance examinations are just another conspiracy to make white boys look good.

One important fact that Tough points out is that prestigious colleges have vastly more money to spend per student than do less famous colleges. Although list-price tuitions at private colleges are virtually the same (and the average private student now gets a 51 percent discount as “financial aid”), the famous colleges receive immensely larger gifts, so they have far more to lavish upon their students.

Consider Harvard (which, perhaps not coincidentally, took the lead in developing the modern testing system in the 1930s and 1940s).

In 2013, the president of Harvard, Drew Gilpin Faust (or Doctor Faust), announced a $6.5 billion fundraising goal, the most ambitious campaign in higher-education history. But when it was over, Harvard had raised $9.6 billion. (It’s almost as if Harvard is adept at picking applicants who, decades later, will write giant checks to Harvard.)

So, in the unlikely event that you get a chance to go to Harvard rather than to Directional State U., you might well consider it. For example, if you run into a rough patch, Harvard has the resources to help you avoid flunking out. And if you are thriving intellectually, Harvard has all sorts of delightful amenities for the best minds.

In turn, some lucrative careers such as consulting and investment banking don’t recruit much at non-rich colleges…

By the way, this history suggests one reason Harvard gives advantages in admission to legacies and athletes in minor sports. I strongly suspect that donors who write eight-figure checks to Harvard tend to be some combination of:

(1) Son of a Harvard grad;

(2) Did well on his SAT;

(3) Competed on a minor sports team like rowing or squash; and

(4) Now wants his daughter or son to go to Harvard.

I had hoped that Tough would have gotten access to the secret statistical models that colleges have created of who donates and who doesn’t, but he doesn’t seem to realize that they have studied this.

Strikingly, Caroline Hoxby, a black economist at Stanford, is more or less the villainess of Tough’s book. She did a study with Christopher Avery of lower-income students with high test scores. Hoxby found that urban high scorers often applied to prestigious colleges. But, Tough writes:

In contrast to that small, ambitious group, the majority of high-scoring low-income students had aspirations that seemed more constrained. They followed the same pattern as lower-scoring low-income students, applying only to one or two institutions, often including a local community college or nearby nonselective public university.

Who are these overlooked smart high schoolers?

These students were more likely to live in small towns or rural areas in the middle of the country and to attend schools where they would be one of only a few high-achieving students. They were also significantly more likely to be white; 80 percent of them, in fact, were white, compared to just 45 percent of the achievement typical students.

In other words, this country’s most underprivileged reservoir of underutilized talent is Red State white boys

Of course, Asians get, by far, the highest test scores of all, and have been widening the gap in this century. But Asians don’t come up all that much in The Years That Matter Most. They tend to confuse The Narrative.

This country needs to reform testing, to get it back to doing the job it did fairly well in the past. But few are interested in discussing how to fix testing because that would require honesty, which tends to get you canceled these days.

If, instead, admission testing were eliminated in a fit of ideological pique, the smart folks at Harvard would no doubt quickly figure out some work-around and Harvard would continue to prosper, as it has done for almost 400 years.

The rest of us, however, are neither as clever nor as rich, so we would less be able to afford the consequences of doing such a stupid thing.

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The Trump Effect on Foreign Policy – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on October 17, 2019

Just in the 2016 election, Graham referred to Trump as a “jackass”. Now, he has realized that to remain relevant within the Party, he must adapt. This is true for many others as well, including Chuck Grassley and Donald Rumsfeld, neither of which one could hardly characterize as populists.

Graham – Selling out his mother (warparty neoconservatives) to remain in power.


Since the conception of his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump had received backlash from a number of different political factions. Among these, were the “Never Trump Republicans”. This included the likes of multiple Bush administration officials, including Paul Wolfowitz and Hank Paulson, the latter voting for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Often many pundits declare that the GOP has become the party of Trump. This statement bears a lot of truth, given that most of the hardliner Never Trumpers have become irrelevant. Among these are major figures in neoconservative circles, including Bill Kristol, and John Kasich. Watching as their hardliner friends started to fade away, many Republicans who would certainly not be characterized as populists by any stretch, had to adapt to the Trump phenomenon. For if they had dissented along with their friends, they too would be pushed to the periphery.

Trump’s conducting of foreign policy well underscores this phenomenon of “necessary adaptation”, for the sake of remaining relevant. Many formerly aggressive Republicans had to adapt to Trump’s volatile “peace through strength” approach regarding diplomacy in say, North Korea. Among one of these Republicans, is Lindsey Graham…

Graham was recently on Fox News, discussing the firing of John Bolton, and potential replacements. Graham started off saying, “The one thing you got to learn about President Trump, that I’ve come to learn, is that he’s unconventional in a conventional way”. This clearly alludes to Graham’s “adaptation” to Trump’s conducting of policy. Graham even went as far to say that “It’s okay, I think, to talk with the Taliban… if there’s a reason to believe they’re going to accept peace and change their behavior”. Such a statement would be seen as a sin in neoconservative circles, for it violates the Bush doctrine- “You’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists”.

What was even more peculiar for Graham, was to openly tell President Trump “I told the President, you’re right to want to reduce our commitment. You’re right to want to lower our cost”. Graham even went as far as to critique foreign interventionism, proclaiming “18 years later, what have we found? Al Qaeda’s still there. ISIS is there… We can’t do in Afghanistan what we did in Iraq… I’d like to end the war. And the only way you ever end a war is to get the two sides talking”. For a split second, Graham’s sentiment was reminiscent of Ron Paul’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns.

This phenomenon has big implications for Trump’s guiding of the GOP. Just in the 2016 election, Graham referred to Trump as a “jackass”. Now, he has realized that to remain relevant within the Party, he must adapt. This is true for many others as well, including Chuck Grassley and Donald Rumsfeld, neither of which one could hardly characterize as populists.

Trump’s “taking over” of the GOP has made its way into foreign policy. It has radically changed the direction of the Republican Party in ways one could have never conceived. Trump has embodied a volatile, “pufferfish” approach in foreign policy, one that could potentially swing the wrong way and lead to great cataclysm. So far however, it has had some implications of restraint, and has forced the neocon establishment to make changes in their conduct.

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Lindsey Graham Proves Ayatollah Right - America Is ...






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DC’s Atlantic Council raked in funding from Hunter Biden’s corruption-stained employer while courting his VP father | The Grayzone

Posted by M. C. on October 17, 2019

Addressing the parliament in Kiev, Biden declared that “corruption can have no place in the new Ukraine,” stating that the “United States has also been a driving force behind the IMF, working to provide a multi-billion package to help Ukraine..”  

That same month, Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of Burisma.

By Max Blumenthal

With its relentless focus on corruption in Russia and Ukraine, the Atlantic Council has distinguished itself from other top-flight think tanks in Washington. Over the past several years, it has held innumerable conferences and panel discussions, issued a string of reports, and published literally hundreds of essays on Russia’s “kleptocracy” and the scourge of Kremlin disinformation.

At the same time, this institution has posed as a faithful partner to Ukraine’s imperiled democracy, organizing countless programs on the urgency of economic reforms to tamp down on corruption in the country.

But behind the curtain, the Atlantic Council has initiated a lucrative relationship with a corruption-tainted Ukrainian gas company, the Burisma Group, that is worth as much as $250,000 a year. The partnership has paid for lavish conferences in Monaco and helped bring Burisma’s oligarchic founder out of the cold.

This alliance has remained stable even as official Washington goes to war over allegations by President Donald Trump and his allies that former Vice President Joseph Biden fired a Ukrainian prosecutor to defend his son’s handsomely compensated position on Burisma’s board.

As Biden parries Trump’s accusations, some of the former vice president’s most ardent defenders are emerging from the halls of the Atlantic Council, which featured Biden as a star speaker at its awards ceremonies over the years. These advocates include Michael Carpenter, Biden’s longtime foreign policy advisor and specialist on Ukraine, who has taken to the national media to support his embattled boss.

Even as Burisma’s trail of influence-buying finds its way into front page headlines, the Atlantic Council’s partnership with the company is scarcely mentioned…

NATO’s think tank in Washington

The Atlantic Council functions as the semi-official think tank of NATO in Washington. As such, it cultivates relationships with well-established policymakers who take a hard line against Russia and support the treaty organization’s perpetual expansion.

Biden has been among the think tank’s most enthusiastic and well-placed allies.

In 2011, then-Vice President Biden delivered the keynote address at the Atlantic Council’s distinguished leadership awards. He returned to the think tank again in 2014 for another keynote at its “Toward A Europe Whole and Free” conference, which was dedicated to expanding NATO’s influence and countering “Russian aggression.” Throughout the event, speakers like Zbigniew Brzezinski sniped at Obama for his insufficiently bellicose posture toward Russia, while former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright fretted over polls showing low public support for US interventionism overseas.

In his own comments, Biden emphasized the need to power Europe with non-Russian sources of natural gas. This provided a prime opportunity to Ukrainian suppliers like Burisma and US energy titans. Many of these energy companies, from Chevron to Noble Energy, also happen to be top donors to the Atlantic Council.

“This would be a game-changer for Europe, in my view, and we’re ready to do everything in our power to help it happen,” Biden promised his audience.

At the time, the Atlantic Council was pushing to ramp up the proxy war against pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. In 2015, for instance, the think tank helped prepare a proposal for arming the Ukrainian military with offensive weaponry like Javelin anti-tank missiles.

Given that the Atlantic Council has been funded by the two manufacturers of the Javelin system, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, this created at least the appearance of a conflict of interest. In fact, the think tank presented its Distinguished Business Leadership Award to Lockheed CEO Marillyn Hewson that same year.

Dubious arrangements like these are not limited to arms manufacturers. Anders Aslund, a neoliberal economist who helps oversee the Atlantic Council’s programming on Russia and Eastern Europe, was quietly paid by a consortium of Latvian banks to write an October 2017 paper highlighting the supposed progress they had made in battling corruption…

Biden made his first visit to the post-Maidan government of Ukraine in April 2014, just as Kiev was launching its so-called “anti-terrorist operation” against separatists who broke off from the new, NATO-oriented Ukraine and its nationalist government and formed so-called people’s republics in the Russophone Donbass region. The fragmentation of the country and its grinding proxy war flowed directly from the regime-change operation that Biden helped oversee.

Addressing the parliament in Kiev, Biden declared that “corruption can have no place in the new Ukraine,” stating that the “United States has also been a driving force behind the IMF, working to provide a multi-billion package to help Ukraine..”

That same month, Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of Burisma.

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Helterskelter to World War Three


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Without encryption, we will lose all privacy. This is our new battleground

Posted by M. C. on October 16, 2019

The US, UK and Australia are taking on Facebook in a bid to undermine the only method that protects our personal information

Edward Snowden is a US surveillance whistleblower

In every country of the world, the security of computers keeps the lights on, the shelves stocked, the dams closed, and transportation running. For more than half a decade, the vulnerability of our computers and computer networks has been ranked the number one risk in the US Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment – that’s higher than terrorism, higher than war. Your bank balance, the local hospital’s equipment, and the 2020 US presidential election, among many, many other things, all depend on computer safety.

And yet, in the midst of the greatest computer security crisis in history, the US government, along with the governments of the UK and Australia, is attempting to undermine the only method that currently exists for reliably protecting the world’s information: encryption. Should they succeed in their quest to undermine encryption, our public infrastructure and private lives will be rendered permanently unsafe.

In the simplest terms, encryption is a method of protecting information, the primary way to keep digital communications safe. Every email you write, every keyword you type into a search box – every embarrassing thing you do online – is transmitted across an increasingly hostile internet. Earlier this month the US, alongside the UK and Australia, called on Facebook to create a “backdoor”, or fatal flaw, into its encrypted messaging apps, which would allow anyone with the key to that backdoor unlimited access to private communications. So far, Facebook has resisted this.

If internet traffic is unencrypted, any government, company, or criminal that happens to notice it can – and, in fact, does – steal a copy of it, secretly recording your information for ever. If, however, you encrypt this traffic, your information cannot be read: only those who have a special decryption key can unlock it.

I know a little about this, because for a time I operated part of the US National Security Agency’s global system of mass surveillance. In June 2013 I worked with journalists to reveal that system to a scandalised world. Without encryption I could not have written the story of how it all happened – my book Permanent Record – and got the manuscript safely across borders that I myself can’t cross. More importantly, encryption helps everyone from reporters, dissidents, activists, NGO workers and whistleblowers, to doctors, lawyers and politicians, to do their work – not just in the world’s most dangerous and repressive countries, but in every single country.

When I came forward in 2013, the US government wasn’t just passively surveilling internet traffic as it crossed the network, but had also found ways to co-opt and, at times, infiltrate the internal networks of major American tech companies. At the time, only a small fraction of web traffic was encrypted: six years later, Facebook, Google and Apple have made encryption-by-default a central part of their products, with the result that today close to 80% of web traffic is encrypted. Even the former director of US national intelligence, James Clapper, credits the revelation of mass surveillance with significantly advancing the commercial adoption of encryption. The internet is more secure as a result. Too secure, in the opinion of some governments.

Donald Trump’s attorney general, William Barr, who authorised one of the earliest mass surveillance programmes without reviewing whether it was legal, is now signalling an intention to halt – or even roll back – the progress of the last six years. WhatsApp, the messaging service owned by Facebook, already uses end-to-end encryption (E2EE): in March the company announced its intention to incorporate E2EE into its other messaging apps – Facebook Messenger and Instagram – as well. Now Barr is launching a public campaign to prevent Facebook from climbing this next rung on the ladder of digital security. This began with an open letter co-signed by Barr, UK home secretary Priti Patel, Australia’s minister for home affairs and the US secretary of homeland security, demanding Facebook abandon its encryption proposals.

If Barr’s campaign is successful, the communications of billions will remain frozen in a state of permanent insecurity: users will be vulnerable by design. And those communications will be vulnerable not only to investigators in the US, UK and Australia, but also to the intelligence agencies of China, Russia and Saudi Arabia – not to mention hackers around the world.

End-to-end encrypted communication systems are designed so that messages can be read only by the sender and their intended recipients, even if the encrypted – meaning locked – messages themselves are stored by an untrusted third party, for example, a social media company such as Facebook.

The central improvement E2EE provides over older security systems is in ensuring the keys that unlock any given message are only ever stored on the specific devices at the end-points of a communication – for example the phones of the sender or receiver of the message – rather than the middlemen who own the various internet platforms enabling it. Since E2EE keys aren’t held by these intermediary service providers, they can no longer be stolen in the event of the massive corporate data breaches that are so common today, providing an essential security benefit. In short, E2EE enables companies such as Facebook, Google or Apple to protect their users from their scrutiny: by ensuring they no longer hold the keys to our most private conversations, these corporations become less of an all-seeing eye than a blindfolded courier.

It is striking that when a company as potentially dangerous as Facebook appears to be at least publicly willing to implement technology that makes users safer by limiting its own power, it is the US government that cries foul. This is because the government would suddenly become less able to treat Facebook as a convenient trove of private lives.

To justify its opposition to encryption, the US government has, as is traditional, invoked the spectre of the web’s darkest forces. Without total access to the complete history of every person’s activity on Facebook, the government claims it would be unable to investigate terrorists, drug dealers money launderers and the perpetrators of child abuse – bad actors who, in reality, prefer not to plan their crimes on public platforms, especially not on US-based ones that employ some of the most sophisticated automatic filters and reporting methods available.

The true explanation for why the US, UK and Australian governments want to do away with end-to-end encryption is less about public safety than it is about power: E2EE gives control to individuals and the devices they use to send, receive and encrypt communications, not to the companies and carriers that route them. This, then, would require government surveillance to become more targeted and methodical, rather than indiscriminate and universal.

What this shift jeopardises is strictly nations’ ability to spy on populations at mass scale, at least in a manner that requires little more than paperwork. By limiting the amount of personal records and intensely private communications held by companies, governments are returning to classic methods of investigation that are both effective and rights-respecting, in lieu of total surveillance. In this outcome we remain not only safe, but free.

Edward Snowden is former CIA officer and whistleblower, and author of Permanent Record. He is president of the board of directors of the Freedom of the Press Foundation

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