“…The casual observer can’t avoid dragging Hillary into this. It appears that, among other things, the Clinton Foundation received over a $100 million in “charitable donations” from various Russian companies and individuals over the years. Gosh, they’re a big-hearted people! Maybe it’s all the vodka they guzzle. No doubt, the newly-converted Russian capitalists were yearning to support “impact entrepreneurs” who are creating “new enterprises to generate both social impact and financial returns” by addressing market gaps in developing countries, or to “strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence” — as the Clinton Foundation described their activities.
More likely they wanted to grease their access to the sure-thing It’s-My-Turn Madam President. Except then she went and lost the election… all because of Russian meddling.”
Thar She Blows!
-by James Howard Kunstler
Monday, Oct 30th, 2017
Paul Manafort surrenders to federal authorities Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office served the first indictment in connection to the Russian election meddling investigation on Monday against President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Manafort’s former business associate, Rick Gates. The pair were told to surrender to federal authorities on Monday morning. Manafort was under investigation before Mueller was appointed, and Mueller’s team absorbed those probes into Manafort’s actions in the election, as well as his real estate and financial dealings, including those in Ukraine, where he worked for a Russia-linked political party. Manafort and Gates face 12 counts on charges including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, and unregistered agent of a foreign principal. Source: The New York Times, Politico
Manafort indictment kicks off long, complex legal process President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, arrived at the FBI’s Washington Field Office on Monday morning, facing 12 counts including conspiracy against the United States. Extensive FBI investigations historically follow a similar pattern, which includes circling inward from “peripheral figures first,” Wired notes, and then encouraging them to cooperate in exchange for leniency. Trump’s lawyer has dismissed rumors that Manafort would or could offer damaging information on the president. Still, Wired explains Monday’s indictment is just the beginning of a “complex and deeply partisan process,” as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s task is to identify federal crimes, while Congress will be left to sort through “political problems.” Source: Wired, The New York Times
2 Navy SEALs under investigation in death of Green Beret in Mali Two members of the Navy’s SEAL Team Six are under suspicion of being involved in the death of an Army Green Beret last June in Mali, U.S. officials told CNN Sunday. The New York Times reports Army Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar was found dead in his room at a U.S. government compound near the American embassy in Bamako, Mali. A military examiner has ruled his death a homicide, CNN says, and the Times reports he was strangled. Melgar was a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group, which operates in northwest Africa. The four American service members killed in an ambush earlier this month in Niger were part of the same group. Source: CNN
Sunday, Oct 29, 2017
Archives from Hewlett-Packard founders William Hewlett and David Packard are among those destroyed by fires in a Santa Rosa neighborhood. (Quartz)
Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq since 2005, announces that he steps down after November 1. The Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament now has to redistribute the authorities of the presidency. (AFPvia SBS)
Hundreds of thousands of supporters for a unified Spain gather in Barcelona, the capital and largest city of Catalonia, in one of the biggest shows of force against Catalan independence. (The Washington Post) (Reuters)
Saturday, Oct 28, 2017
A “White Lives Matter” gathering takes place in Shelbyville, Tennessee, with 200+ WLM protestors met by 700+ counter-protesters. (USA Today)
Friday, Oct 27, 2017
President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan announces that the Kazakh language will begin using a Latin script, rather than the current Cyrillic script. (Official site of the Kazakh presidency) (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty)
The United States releases a list of 39 Russian military companies and intelligence agencies targeted by economic sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. (CBS News)
A federal grand jury approves the first charges from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 federal elections. The charges are sealed by a court order. (CNN) (The Hill)
Catalonia declares independence from Spain as Catalan Republic. (CNN)
The Parliament of Catalonia votes and starts a “constituent” process towards independence from the Kingdom of Spain. The Senate of Spain votes to permit direct rule according to article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. (BBC)
The euro drops to a three-month low after the declaration is made. (Reuters)
Information brought to Trump Jr. at 2016 meeting had Kremlin ties Information brought by a Russian lawyer to a June 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and then-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had previously been discussed with the prosecutor general of Russia, Yuri Chaika, The New York Times reported Friday. The lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, reportedly touted having compromising intelligence on Hillary Clinton to Trump Jr., although Trump’s eldest son was ultimately unimpressed by the information, which attempted to portray some of Clinton’s campaign donations as “stolen” Russian money. Russia experts told the Times that it was “inconceivable” that Veselnitskaya “would have bypassed her own government to deliver what are now unmistakably official allegations to an American presidential campaign,” saying she must have coordinated with the Kremlin somehow. Source: The New York Times
Trump declares opioid crisis a public health emergency On Thursday, President Trump officially declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. “We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it,” Trump said. He also said that the government would require a particular “truly evil” opioid to be removed from the market, as well as promote research for non-addictive pain management techniques. Trump had been heavily criticized for not triggering a federal response to the crisis sooner, after saying he would make an announcement back in early August. STAT estimated earlier this year that opioids could kill nearly 500,000 Americans in the next decade. Source: CSPAN, STAT
Thursday, Oct 26th, 2017
Twitter bans all ads from Russian news agencies RT and Sputnik based on U.S. intelligence’s conclusion that both attempted to interfere with the 2016 U.S. presidential election on behalf of the Russian government. (Business Insider)
A Russian Mi-8 helicopter crashes into the sea off Svalbard with eight people reported missing. A search and rescue operation is underway. (BBC)
At least two Catalan officials defect from the ruling Junts pel Sí party as Catalan president Carles Puigdemont cancels a speech regarding snap elections. Puigdemont plans to draw back from declaring independence from Spain. (Bloomberg)
Nearly 3,000 files related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 have been released, while U.S. President Donald Trump orders others to be withheld citing national security concerns. The documents were scheduled for release today in a 1992 law. (BBC)
Trump to declare opioid crisis a public health emergency today On Wednesday night, President Trump told reporters that he is “going to have a big meeting on opioids” Thursday, and White House officials tell USA Today that Trump will order the Health and Human Services department to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency, a step short of the national emergency he promised to declare in August and again last week. Trump said the order would give the federal government the “power to do things that you can’t do right now,” and White House officials said the renewable 90-day order would give states more flexibility to spend the $1 billion for opioid treatment Congress approved last year, plus tap other funds. Trump’s opioid commission had recommended a more robust national emergency declaration. Source: USA Today
JFK assassination documents to be released today Thursday is the deadline Congress set 25 years ago for the release of the remaining government files on the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. President Trump, who can withhold some of the documents if he decides they compromise government sources or methods, teased the release again on Wednesday, tweeting: “The long anticipated release of the #JFKFiles will take place tomorrow. So interesting!” The CIA has been urging Trump to withhold some information, while scholars and conspiracy theorists — including longtime adviser Roger Stone — are pushing Trump to release every scrap of information. Source: The Associated Press
Trump campaign data firm contacted Julian Assange about Clinton emails Inan email last year, Alexander Nix, the head of Cambridge Analytica, a data-analytics firm hired by President Trump’s campaign, told a third party he had contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about how he could help him release some of Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails, The Daily Beast reports, citing two people familiar with the congressional investigation into ties between Trump associates and the Russian government. Nix’s email indicates that Assange refused the offer, saying he worked alone. If Nix’s claims are true, this is the closest known connection between Trump’s campaign and Assange. Assange told The Daily Beast “an approach by Cambridge Analytica” was rejected. It is unclear if Assange or anyone else has access to Clinton’s deleted emails. Source: The Daily Beast
Wednesday, Oct 25, 2017
A militant group affiliated with ISIL seizes the coastal town of Qandala in the autonomous Puntland region. (Reuters)
Ghor Province Governor’s spokesman claims ISIL insurgents killed 26-42 civilians in his governed province, Afghanistan. (Reuters)
Suspected Syrian or Russian warplanes conduct airstrikes on a residential area and a school in Haas village in rebel-held Idlib Governorate, killing at least 26 civilians, most of them children. (Reuters)
A research team led by an evolutionary biologist at the University of Arizona publishes a paper in Nature on the genetic history of HIV proving that Gaëtan Dugas, the Canadian flight attendant who had been identified for years as “Patient Zero” of the AIDS epidemic in the U.S., did not spread the virus to the country. The study indicates that HIV first spread to the U.S. from the Caribbean around 1970. (BBC) (The New York Times)
Russia withdraws a request to refuel three of its warships, including the flagship of the Russian Navy, Admiral Kuznetsov, en route to Syria, at the Spanish port of Ceuta following NATO pressure on the Spanish government to not allow the warships to dock. (BBC)
Tuesday, Oct 24th, 2017
The European Commission scraps the draft legislation that would have permitted the EBA regulator to order “too big to fail” banks to split off their trading activities, citing “no foreseeable agreement” in sight on criteria. The draft was supposed to be the EU’s answer to the United States’ Volcker Rule. (Reuters)
Security researchers report on the outbreak of the ransomware nicknamed Bad Rabbit, which has affected computer networks throughout the world, with Russia and Ukraine being the worst affected. (International Business Times) (BBC)
The week-long Communist Party congress in Beijing draws to an end, with General Secretary Xi Jinping set to become its most influential leader since Party Chairman Mao Zedong. (BBC)
Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives launch an investigation into the Obama administration’s decision in 2010 to allow Rosatom to purchase Uranium One. (Los Angeles Times)
The Russian-Ukrainian Conflict Could Be Escalating
By: Pavel Felgenhauer
July 20, 2017
The situation has turned out to be more complicated, however. President Vladimir Putin’s aide Vladislav Surkov is the Kremlin’s point man on everything concerning Ukraine. He is a true decision maker (together with Putin), unlike Grizlov or any Russian parliamentarians. On July 19, he was reported to have actually supported Zakharchenko at a meeting with experts in the Kremlin. Surkov reportedly said, “All this hype about the fantasy Malorossia state is good—it emphasizes that Donbas is fighting not to separate from Ukraine but for its territorial integrity, for all of Ukraine and not for a part. There is a civil war in Ukraine between forces that see its future differently: Kyiv wants a pro-European utopia, Donbas replies with the idea of Malorossia” (RIA Novosti, July 19).
Surkov’s spin of the Malorossia idea seems to be more than just a way to cover up the embarrassment of a faulty move by Zakharchenko. It is in line with the Kremlin’s longstanding strategic goal to take back all of Ukraine under Russian domination as part of the so-called “Russkiy Mir” (“Russian World”). In essence, Zakharchenko followed up with what the Kremlin has been seeking to obtain all along. Speaking to reporters in Hamburg this month, after meeting President Donald Trump during the G20 summit, Putin once again insisted: “I am absolutely sure the interests of Ukraine and Russia, of the Ukrainian and Russian people fully match, but the interests of Ukrainian leaders and some political forces in Ukraine are different.” Putin accused the Ukrainian leadership of deliberately trying to separate the Ukrainian and Russian people and states, which need and want to be together to jointly develop and build a future. Putin accused Ukraine’s leaders of “trading in Russophobia” to please the West, which appears intent not to allow Russia and Ukraine to move any closer, at any cost. “I believe this situation will end eventually, and we are interested in it ending as soon as possible,” continued Putin (Kremlin.ru, July 8).
The fighting in Donbas has been increasing after the Putin-Trump summit. According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) special observer mission in Donbas, there has been a 20 percent increase in ceasefire violations in the week after the G20 summit (Militarynews.ru, July 18). According to official Ukrainian military sources, on July 19 alone, nine Ukrainian soldiers were killed and five more wounded in renewed clashes along the eastern frontline. These losses seem to indicate a dramatic increase in violence (Militarynews.ru, July 20).
Meanwhile, the cost of keeping part of Donbas as a Russia-controlled enclave is growing for Moscow, as the fighting continues to simmer while its social and economic infrastructure degrades. But the Kremlin does not need a “frozen conflict” in Donbas with an ever-growing price tag, when the real goal is to take and “integrate” the entirety (or most) of Ukraine. According to Putin, the true enemy is the regime in Kyiv and its Western backers. And it seems increasingly unlikely that these enemies can be defeated by Russia simply maintaining the status quo in eastern Ukraine, instead of going all in to end “this situation as soon as possible,” to quote Putin (Kremlin.ru, July 8).