Thursday, October 31, 2019

The SchiffShow - What Use is an Entertainment Division that Fails to Entertain?

moonofalabama |  The New York Times continues to lie about Joe Biden's involvement in the Ukraine and about Ukrainian involvement in the U.S. election. Today it also lied about a fact in relation to Lieutenant Colonel Vindman who was yesterday questioned by the Democrats 'impeachment inquiry'. The NYT reported that very fact just a day ago. During the hearing Lt.Col. Vindman expressed a rather preposterous view about who should define U.S. foreign policy. 

The NYT claims to debunk falsehoods but spreads more of them:
Debunking 4 Viral Rumors About the Bidens and Ukraine
As lawmakers examine whether President Trump pushed Ukraine to investigate the Biden family, here are some of the most prominent falsehoods that have spread online and an explanation of what really happened.
Why was Ukraine’s top prosecutor fired?
A year later, Viktor Shokin became Ukraine’s prosecutor general, a job similar to the attorney general in the United States. He vowed to keep investigating Burisma amid an international push to root out corruption in Ukraine. 
But the investigation went dormant under Mr. Shokin. In the fall of 2015, Joe Biden joined the chorus of Western officials calling for Mr. Shokin’s ouster. The next March, Mr. Shokin was fired. A subsequent prosecutor cleared Mr. Zlochevsky.
We have show the time lime of Biden's intervention against Shokin and provided evidence that the investigation into Burisma was very much alive:
Zlochevsky had hired Joe Biden's son Hunter for at least $50,000 per month. In 2015 Shokin started to investigate him in two cases. During the fall of 2015 Joe Biden's team begins to lobby against him. On February 2 Shokin seizes Zlochevsky's houses. Shortly afterwards the Biden camp goes berserk with Biden himself making nearly daily phonecalls. Shokin goes on vacation while Poroshenko (falsely) claims that he resigned. When Shokin comes back into office Biden again takes to the phone. A week later Shokin is out. 
Biden got the new prosecutor general he wanted. The new guy made a bit of show and then closed the case against Zlochevsky.
It is quite astonishing that the false claims, that Shokin did not go after Burisma owner Zlochevsky, is repeated again and again despite the fact that the public record, in form of a report by Interfax-Ukraine, contradicts it.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Government and Media are the Entertainment Divisions of the Military Industrial Complex

moonofalabama |  Since Donald Trump was elected president the New York Times' understanding of the 'Deep State' evolved from a total denial of its existence towards a full endorsement of its anti-democratic operations.

A wave of leaks from government officials has hobbled the Trump administration, leading some to draw comparisons to countries like Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan, where shadowy networks within government bureaucracies, often referred to as “deep states,” undermine and coerce elected governments. So is the United States seeing the rise of its own deep state?
Not quite, experts say, but the echoes are real — and disturbing.
The concept of a “deep state” — a shadowy network of agency or military officials who secretly conspire to influence government policy — is more often used to describe countries like Egypt, Turkey and Pakistan, where authoritarian elements band together to undercut democratically elected leaders. But inside the West Wing, Mr. Trump and his inner circle, particularly his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, see the influence of such forces at work within the United States, essentially arguing that their own government is being undermined from within. It is an extraordinary contention for a sitting president to make.
American institutions do not resemble the powerful deep states of countries like Egypt or Pakistan, experts say. Nor do individual leaks, a number of which have come from President Trump’s own team, amount to a conspiracy. The diagnosis of a “deep state,” those experts say, has the problem backward.
Though Mr. Trump has not publicly used the phrase, allies and sympathetic news media outlets have repurposed “deep state” from its formal meaning — a network of civilian and military officials who control or undermine democratically elected governments — to a pejorative meant to accuse civil servants of illegitimacy and political animus.
On Russia, for instance, the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But his national security team knew better — such actions had to be taken, to hold Moscow accountable.
This isn’t the work of the so-called deep state. It’s the work of the steady state.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Tried to Tell Y'all Cats Two and a Half Years Ago..., (Search Susan Rice Here)

sicsempertyrannis |  I was chatting last night with a retired CIA colleague, a person well connected to many folks still working at our former employer, and he dropped a bombshell--he had learned that John Brennan set up a Trump Task Force at CIA in early 2016. 

This is definitely something Prosecutor John Durham should explore. A "Task Force" normally is a short term creation comprised of operations officers (i.e., guys and gals who carry out espionage activities overseas) and intelligence analysts. The purpose of such a group is to ensure all relevant intelligence capabilities are brought to bear on the problem at hand.

While a "Task Force" can be a useful tool for tackling issues of terrorism or drug trafficking, it is not appropriate or lawful for collecting on a U.S. candidate for the Presidency. But Brennan did it, so I'm told, and it had the blessing of the Director of National Intelligence Jim Clapper. 

The Task Force members were handpicked. The job was not posted. Instead, people were specifically invited to join up. Not everyone accepted the invitation, and that is now a problem for John Brennan. If those folks are talking to Durham's folks then Brennan's days are numbered.

Brennan reportedly took it upon himself to recruit foreign intelligence organizations, such as MI-6, the Aussies, the Italians and the Israelis, to help in spying on Trump and his campaign. He sold it as a "counter-intelligence" mission citing his fear that Trump was a Russian puppet. And these foreign services agreed to help. But they did more than passive collection. They helped create and implement covert actions, such as entrapping Michael Flynn as a foreign agent and cultivating and ensnaring George Papadopoulos.

Barr Changes the Dynamic

sicsempertyrannis |  I do not believe in coincidence. I do not believe that it is a mere coincidence that these three events occurred late last night:

1. The investigation of the roots of the plot to destroy Donald Trump and his Presidency is now a criminal matter.

2. A letter from Inspector General Horowitz announcing that his report on the FISA fraud would be out shortly with no major redactions. 

3. The Government caved to Honey Badger Sidney Powell and allowed her to fully expose criminal conduct by Michael Flynn's prosecutors.

What is going on? Two words. Bill Barr. The Attorney General has pulled the trigger and altered the landscape in the Russiagate saga. Having been granted full authority by the President to declassify information, including intel from the CIA and the NSA, he has now acted in a powerful, but low key way.

The announcement that this is now a criminal investigation means that anyone, including FBI agents and CIA officers, who try to hold back information or hide information will be vulnerable to obstruction of justice charges. Criminal penalties attach.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Barr's Not Just a Referee, He's An Effective Referee!

npr |  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced in a letter to Democrats on Monday that the House will vote to formalize the procedures in the ongoing impeachment inquiry of President Trump.

The resolution will outline the terms for public hearings, the disclosure of deposition transcripts, procedures to transfer evidence to the House Judiciary Committee and due process rights for Trump.

Senior Democratic aides said the resolution will be released on Wednesday, with a House vote on Thursday.

"We are taking this step to eliminate any doubt as to whether the Trump Administration may withhold documents, prevent witness testimony, disregard duly authorized subpoenas, or continue obstructing the House of Representatives," Pelosi wrote.

House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff confirmed that the resolution will establish a format for open hearings. 

"The American people will hear firsthand about the President's misconduct," Schiff said in a statement.

Weaponization Means Schiff Cuffed and Concussed On His Way Into Squad Car

politico  |  Democrats are accusing Attorney General William Barr of using the Justice Department to do President Donald Trump's political bidding. 

Democratic criticism of the attorney general comes amid media reports that a department probe into the FBI's investigation connections between Russia and the Trump 2016 campaign has now become a criminal investigation. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, accused Barr on Sunday of “weaponizing” the Justice Department. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have called on Barr to recuse himself from the department's investigation. 

"Bill Barr, on the president’s behalf, is weaponizing the Justice Department to go after the president’s enemies,” Schiff said on ABC‘s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “He’s demonstrating once again that he is merely a tool of the president, the president’s hand, not the representative of the American people.” 

Trump has repeatedly called on Barr to investigate how the FBI began its Russia probe. John Durham, the U.S. attorney for Connecticut, is leading that effort. The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General has also been conducting an investigation into aspects of the FBI's Russia probe. That report is expected to be released in the near future.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Brennan "Concerned" About All The Dot-Connecting...,

thefederalist |  Last weekend, NBC News reported that the Justice Department’s probe into the origins of the Russia collusion investigation is now focusing on the CIA and the intelligence community. NBC News soft-peddled this significant development by giving former CIA Director John Brennan a platform (a pen?) to call the probe “bizarre,” and question “the legal basis for” the investigation. Politico soon joined the spin effort, branding the investigation Attorney General William Barr assigned to Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham “Trump’s vengeance.”

However, if the media reports are true, and Barr and Durham have turned their focus to Brennan and the intelligence community, it is not a matter of vengeance; it is a matter of connecting the dots in congressional testimony and reports, leaks, and media spin, and facts exposed during the three years of panting about supposed Russia collusion. And it all started with Brennan.

That’s not how the story went, of course. The company story ran that the FBI launched its Crossfire Hurricane surveillance of the Trump campaign on July 31, 2016, after learning that a young Trump advisor, George Papadopoulos, had bragged to an Australian diplomat, Alexander Downer, that the Russians had dirt on Hillary Clinton. This tip from Downer, when coupled with WikiLeaks’s release of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails and evidence of Russian efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, supposedly triggered the FBI’s decision to target the Trump campaign.

The Upper Echelon of __________ Met to Orchestrate It All

thefederalist |  Earlier this week, Michael Flynn’s star attorney, Sidney Powell, filed under seal a brief in reply to federal prosecutors’ claims that they have already given Flynn’s defense team all the evidence they are required by law to provide. A minimally redacted copy of the reply brief has just been made public, and with it shocking details of the deep state’s plot to destroy Flynn.

While the briefing at issue concerns Powell’s motion to compel the government to hand over evidence required by Brady and presiding Judge Emmett Sullivan’s standing order, Powell’s 37-page brief pivots between showcasing the prosecution’s penchant for withholding evidence and exposing significant new evidence the defense team uncovered that establishes a concerted effort to entrap Flynn. Along the way, Powell drops half-a-dozen problems with Flynn’s plea and an equal number of justifications for outright dismissal of the criminal charges against Flynn.

What is most striking, though, is the timeline Powell pieced together from publicly reported text messages withheld from the defense team and excerpts from documents still sealed from public view. The sequence Powell lays out shows that a team of “high-ranking FBI officials orchestrated an ambush-interview of the new president’s National Security Advisor, not for the purpose of discovering any evidence of criminal activity—they already had tapes of all the relevant conversations about which they questioned Mr. Flynn—but for the purpose of trapping him into making statements they could allege as false.”

The Deep State vs. Democracy

counterpunch |  With Bernie Sanders the people’s choice for winner of the Democratic primary in terms of political organizing and campaign contributions, the powers-that-be in the DNC are putting out a call for establishment figures like Hillary Clinton or Michael Bloomberg to join the race. Not being ‘reported’ by the establishment press is that these same kingmakers 1) weighted the Democrat’s choice against Mr. Sander’s and towards Ms. Clinton in 2016 and lost and 2) chose Joe Biden as their ‘heavyweight’ candidate for 2020.

The idea, popular on the American left, that winning against Donald Trump is all that matters, runs up against the fact that these DNC kingmakers have a less than stellar track record when it comes to winning elections. Not only is Ms. Clinton one of the most enthusiastically despised people on the planet— more so than Donald Trump even after his impeachment was announced, but Michael Bloomberg was a Republican for the entirety of the wildly misguided American war against Iraq. Why isn’t he running as a Republican?

The rationale for the reappearance of the ‘grownups’ from the DNC appears to be that Joe Biden’s political prospects are sinking faster than Bill Clinton’s libido in the presence of women over the age of consent. That Mr. Biden’s failure comes as a surprise to DNC insiders illustrates the political ineptitude mentioned above. In fact, this practice of perpetually failing upward— of being wrong about absolutely everything while maintaining leadership positions in quasi-public institutions like the DNC, suggests that winning elections isn’t the objective.

According to the political campaign funding website, Bernie Sanders is second only to Donald Trump in terms of campaign contributions raised toward his 2020 presidential campaign. And given the source of Mr. Sanders’ contributions— small donors, a.k.a. ’the people,’ he is quite conspicuously the people’s choice for President amongst Democrats. This leaves the rich, business executives and their bourgeois aspirants— the richer 10% of the country, with a choice of Mr. Trump or the Democratic Party equivalent.

The question of where Elizabeth Warren is in all this gets to the issue of motives. Ms. Warren is both brighter and more competent in a performative sense than Joe Biden. And she signaled early on that she will drop her entire political program if doing so gets her the nod from donors and DNC insiders. This willingness to ‘compromise’ sets her apart from Mr. Sanders. The question ‘can she win,’ the seeming pragmatic question of the day, is proved a farce through the first insider choice of Joe Biden, and then with the call for more ‘heavyweight’ losers.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Shoe!!! Meet Other Foot...,

theconservativetreehouse |  The reaction from CNN to news that U.S. Attorney John Durham is now conducting a criminal investigation is actually quite funny when contrast against their positions in 2017 and 2018.  Jeffrey Toobin doesn’t have any idea about the background of Joseph Mifsud, and his narration is a jumbled mess of dissonance: “clearly no evidence” he proclaims.

When Weissman and Mueller were traveling the world to investigate Trump-Russia it was an example of prudent and thorough investigative approaches.  However, Durham and Barr doing the same thing is an example of the most horrific investigation imaginable.  When Mueller sent a subpoena it held a seriousness that could not be ignored; however, if Durham sends a subpoena, everyone can just shrug-it-off and “take the fifth”.

Accordingly, Weissmann & Mueller opened investigations, the targets were automatically guilty and should be alarmed.  However, when Durham & Barr open investigations, it means nothing to the targets and not even the possibility of guilt.  Meanwhile, former ODNI James Clapper’s muttering responses are, well, also quite humorous.

While Rome Has Burned the Past Three Yars...,

tablet |  A very, very interesting interview — you can skip past the lengthy intro — with an old school national security mandarin, Angelo Codevilla. Here is the important nugget:
INTERVIEWER: I have some close personal friends who are more on the left, and I said to them: OK. Where’s the evidence? Who did what when to whom? Where are the quids and where are the quos? What’s going on here? And all they could say is, “Well, the investigation is going on.”
Whose fault is this?
[CODEVILLA:] The fault here is not of Democrats on the left. The fault here is of Donald Trump and his friends who have refused to enforce the most basic laws here. The most obvious one is Section 798, (18 U.S. Code), the simple comment statute. Now anybody in the intelligence business knows that this is the live wire of security law. It is a strict liability statute. It states that any revelation, regardless of circumstance or intent, any revelation period, of anything having to do with U.S. communications intelligence is punishable by the 10 and 10. Ten years in the slammer, and $10,000 fine. Per count.
Now the folks who went to The Washington Post and The New York Times in November and December of 2016 and peddled this story of the intelligence community’s conclusion that Trump and the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia, these people ipso facto violated §798.
Considering these matters are highly classified, and that the number of the people involved is necessarily very small, identifying them is child’s play. But no effort to do that has been made.

I’m not a lawyer, but Codevilla seems like an authoritative source (e.g., “directly involved in the drafting of the original FISA law in 1978”).

Friday, October 25, 2019

Unsubstantiated Drug Price Increases

Is an independent and non-partisan research organization. Its purpose is to evaluate the clinical and economic value of prescription drugs, medical tests, and health care and health care delivery innovations. ICER conducts rigorous analyses of all clinical data with key stakeholders to include patients, doctors, life science companies, private insurers, and the government and translate the evidence into policy decisions that lead to a more effective, efficient, and just health care system.

As explained by their site information, ICER is known as the nation’s independent watchdog on drug pricing. It’s drug assessment reports include a full analysis of how well each new drug works and the resulting “clinical value, quality of life, benefit to the health-care system and society” used to establish a price. Using the drug assessment report, a “value-based price benchmark” is established  reflecting how each drug should be priced addressing all four factors. Reports also evaluate the potential short-term budget impact of new drugs to alert policymakers to situations when short-term costs may strain health system budgets and lead to restrictions on patient access. Ensuring objectivity in its work, all ICER reports are produced with funding from non-profit foundations and other sources that are free of conflicts of interest from the life science industry or insurers.

What I have seen in the past is the ICER establishing pricing for new drugs taking into consideration these factors; “the patient’s quality of life, and the resulting benefits to the health-care system, and society.” This is the first time I am seeing the ICER looking at price increases and determining whether the value delivered substantiates a price increase. By the numbers: Here are the drugs (and manufacturers) highlighted in a recent ICER’s report, with the increase in net spending attributable to each drug’s price increase, and citing the increases could not be justified by the value delivered.

America's Healthcare Rip-off

nakedcapitalism |  Yves here. Reader Christopher J sent a contribution from Down Under, with a long note about his treatment for his first major medical treatment. I thought I would run it as a long-form example of how health care works in other advanced economies. Admittedly, my personal data points are stale, but when I was in Sydney (2002-2004), the caliber of health care was on a par with the US, and even with my paying out of pocket, the charges were about a third of what they would have been in the US. A couple I knew who had the option of the wife giving childbirth in New York City or Sydney chose Sydney because they deemed the care to be better. 

One of the big things that allows for America’s health care looting to go well beyond what ought to have been its sell by date is our provincialism. 

You can read about the Australian scheme here; the short version is citizens and permanent residents pay 2% of their annual income over a threshold for Medicare; they can then either buy private insurance or pay a surcharge for the balance of their coverage.

Christopher J lives in Cairns, which is a remote city of 150,000 near the Great Barrier Reef. 

By Christopher J
I follow your blog most days and have been a part time commenter for well over 10 years now, since I worked for the Bureau of Transport Economics in Canberra. 

Here is a story about my first medical emergency. I was born in the UK in 1961 and now live in Cairns after working in the public sector for 30 plus years in the finance and treasury sectors. I currently work for self as handyman and have a partner who also works.

Last September 2018, I gave up smoking cigarettes due to the expense. Heavily taxed to ‘discourage use’, a 20 pack of Marlboros now costs around A$30 – $20 US. And, I reckon my habit was costing around $750 a month, or the cost of an annual river cruise in Europe! I’d given up several times for months or even years, but this was the first time I’d given up arising from anger at how the Federal Government was tackling the problem with a huge tax on, mostly, working people.

After that first month, I withdrew the money I’d saved in cash and bought myself a flash wallet to put it in. Smug I was at the pub around my smoking friends. I found huge improvements in my health. For many years sleeping on my side led to my arms going to sleep as my circulation was constricted by all that smoke residue. After a month or so of not smoking, my blood circulation improved and I found I could sleep again on my side. I told partner we were going to extend all our run circuits by about 800 m and we started to hike up Mount Whitfield, and jog down, about an 8km round trip with an up and down of around 350m, with the trail along the ridge line. I was feeling very fit for my age and was feeling generally positive about my health and well being.

At the end of May, or so, and out of the blue, I found a lump as I was sitting on the bed one morning. This was a Monday about 4 months ago. At the top of my right thigh and groiu area was a lump, not painful, about the size of a small egg.’

What About Spending It On Medicaid Instead?

counterpunch |  Something very unusual happened on Thursday, Oct. 17. The New York Times suddenly ran an article on its opinion page explaining how to cut $300 billion from the $1-trillion military budget — enough, the article explained, to fund Bernie Sanders’ proposed program for an expanded Medicare program to cover all Americans without raising a dime in new taxes.

The article, written by Lindsay Koshgarian, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ National Priorities Project, explained that by shifting the US diplomatic and military strategy from one of confrontation, endless wars, expansive overseas basing, and unilateralism to one of diplomacy, a pull-back from foreign bases and global deployments, with a concomitant reduction in the nation’s 2.4 million-person military could be accomplished with no threat to US national security.

Koshgarian’s opinion article actually listed the cuts that could be made, attaching a dollar value to each one. Examples were:

* End the practice of supplemental appropriations for war funding, much of which is actually used for more spending on other unintended military programs and which have only led to unending wars that have done nothing to make the US safer, for example in Iraq and Afghanistan. Savings: $66 billion per year.

* End funding for other nations’ militaries. Savings $14 billion a year.

* Close foreign bases (Almost one-third of all uniformed US military personnel serve abroad, most of them in non-crisis-zone locations or combat zones). Savings: $90 billion

Why 2+ Million American Expats Live in Mexico

businessinmexico |  If you’ve ever considered a move across the southern border, you may wonder what healthcare in Mexico is like for expats. While in many ways, the Mexican system is much friendlier than the U.S. healthcare system — so much so that Americans cross the border to get healthcare — there are still a lot of things you need to know.

What kind of healthcare system does Mexico have? Can you get insurance there as a resident, or while doing business in Mexico? What is the IMSS, or Seguro Popular, and how do those apply to you as a non-citizen? When it comes to medical care, south of the border, understanding your options is essential.

When many Americans think of Mexico, they think of a poverty-stricken country that people are trying to escape. While that might be true in some cases, primarily because of corruption, Mexico is a cosmopolitan 21st-century country and its healthcare system reflects that.

There are thousands of healthcare facilities throughout the country, about one-third of which belong to the taxpayers. Most healthcare providers in Mexico received at least part of their education in the United States, Canada or Europe. Finding an English speaking doctor should not be a problem.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

We Switched from Meth Labs to Mexican Cartels

kctv5 |  As the officer in charge of COMBAT, Jackson County’s Drug Trafficking Task Force Dan Cumming deals with a lot of dangerous people.

“About 100% of what we recover, if you follow it back far enough up the drug train so to speak, comes from Mexico and is cartel related,” Cummings said.

Just last week, COMBAT worked a case at the request of Independence police.

A tip led them to a Kansas City, Missouri street where a search warrant led to the seizure of tires filled with meth.

“My guess is that’s the way it was shipped from Mexico to Kansas City,” Cummings said.
Cartels get creative when smuggling drugs in customs and border protection has a few recent examples.

Fentanyl in a vehicle transmission, heroine in a gas tank, marijuana inside a car door and cocaine in clay figurines.

Cummings says he’s seeing more cartel related drug busts in Kansas City now than he has in his 35 plus years in law enforcement.

Los Chapitos Put the Lie to the Myth of Sovereign Force Monopoly

reuters |  The mug shot-style photo of Ovidio Guzman that appeared as he was apprehended oozed defiance. Chin jutting out, eyes trained on the camera, the handsome youth bore a strong resemblance to his infamous father, jailed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. 

He had reason to be cocksure. In response to his capture in an upscale neighborhood, hundreds of heavily-armed Sinaloa Cartel henchmen, guns blazing, were pouring into Culiacan, briefly taking the modern city of about a million people near Mexico’s Pacific coast hostage. 

Within hours they had pried him loose from authorities. 

It was like nothing Mexico had seen before, a military-style operation that outfoxed and outnumbered security forces, leaving the city shocked and smoldering. The show of strength dashed hopes the cartel was seriously weakened by the life sentence the elder Guzman received in the United States this year. 

Not only were the new generation of Guzmans, collectively known as Los Chapitos, keeping alive their family’s near-mythical outlaw reputation, they were doing it with a brazenness akin to open warfare. 

“We’re facing a new generation of organized crime that doesn’t respect civilians,” Cristobal Castaneda, head of Sinaloa state security, told Reuters after the attacks. 

Four surviving sons of El Chapo were already regulars in Culiacan’s nightclubs and restaurants, despite U.S. indictments against them, before last Thursday’s dramatic act of armed insurrection.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Toothpick Hanging Out His Mouth - Ole Warren Put a Brick Through Overton's Window

Now Let's You Jus Drop Em'Pants...,

sicsempertyrannis |  Any fair reporter with half a brain would see these events as pointing to a conspiracy. But not the liars at the New York Times. But the Times does tip us off to the upcoming mad scramble for life boats. It will it the FBI and DOJ against the DNI, the CIA and NSA. According to the Times:

It is not clear how many people Mr. Durham’s team has interviewed outside of the F.B.I. His investigators have questioned officials in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence but apparently have yet to interview C.I.A. personnel, people familiar with the review said. Mr. Durham would probably want to speak with Gina Haspel, the agency’s director, who ran its London station when the Australians passed along the explosive information about Russia’s offer of political dirt.

There is no abiding affection between the FBI and the CIA. They mix like oil and water. In theory the FBI only traffics in "evidence." The CIA deals primarily with well-sourced rumors. But the CIA will argue they were offering their best judgement, not a factual conclusion. Brennan and Clapper will insist they were not in a position to determine the "truth" of what they were reporting. It is "intel" not evidence.

The Horowitz report will not deal with the CIA and NSA directly. Horowitz can only point out that the FBI folks insisted that they were relying on the intel community and had no reason not to trust them. This is likely to get ugly and do not be surprised to see the intel folks try to throw the FBI under the bus and vice versa. Grab the popcorn.

Squeeze Clapper Hard Now

sicsempertyrannis |  U.S. officials had been concerned that Russian sources could be at risk of exposure as early as the fall of 2016, when the Obama administration first confirmed that Russia had stolen and publicly disclosed emails from the Democratic National Committee and the account of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.

In October 2016, the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a joint statement that intelligence agencies were “confident that the Russian Government directed” the hacking campaign. . . .

In January 2017, the Obama administration published a detailed assessment that unambiguously laid the blame on the Kremlin, concluding that “Putin ordered an influence campaign” and that Russia’s goal was to undermine faith in the U.S. democratic process and harm Clinton’s chances of winning.

“That’s a pretty remarkable intelligence community product — much more specific than what you normally see,” one U.S. official said. “It’s very expected that potential U.S. intelligence assets in Russia would be under a higher level of scrutiny by their own intelligence services.”

Sounds official. But there is no actual forensic or documentary evidence (by that I mean actual corroborating intelligence reports) to back up these claims by our oxymoronically christened intelligence community.

Vladimir Putin ordered the hack? Where is the report? It is either in a piece of intercepted electronics communication and/or in a report derived from information provided by Mr. Smolenkov. Where is it? Why has that not been shared in public? Don't have to worry about exposing the source now. He is already in the open. What did he report? Answer--no direct evidence.

Then there is the lie that the Russians hacked the DNC. They did not. Bill Binney, a former Technical Director of the NSA, and I have written on this subject previously (see here) and there is no truth to this claim. Let me put it simply--if the DNC had been hacked by the Russians using spearphising (this is claimed in the Robert Mueller report) then the NSA would have collected those messages and would be able to show they were transferred to the Russians. That did not happen.

This kind of chaotic leaking about an old intel op is symptomatic of panic. CIA is already officially denying key parts of the story. My money is on John Brennan and Jim Clapper as the likely impetus for these reports. They are hoping to paint Trump as a national security threat and distract from the upcoming revelations from the DOJ Inspector General report on the FISA warrants and, more threatening, the decisions that Prosecutor John Durham will take in deciding to indict those who attempted to launch a coup against Donald Trump, a legitimately elected President of the United States.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

We Can Never Be China's Friend

asiatimes |  Trump’s real liability isn’t impeachment. It’s China and the economy. What the Trump administration has been doing so far, vis-à-vis China, is an own goal — ein Eigentor [“an owner”].

Why is it an eigentor?

Because the effect of the tariffs on the US economy is at least as bad as the effect of the tariffs on the Chinese economy. American export orders are collapsing. We have the weakest industrial reading since June of 2009. We are in a manufacturing recession, according to the Federal Reserve. Factory output is contracting. Trump won in 2016 by carrying key manufacturing states like Pennsylvania,
Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. This blunder could lose him the election. This is much more dangerous than the impeachment masquerade. China’s also suffering, but appears to be suffering less.

And the big difference is Xi Jinping [China’s president] doesn’t have a presidential election in 2020 and Trump does.

In fact, President Xi will never face an election. He is elected for life.

That is true. But all that can change if he fails to succeed.

You have compared the situation that the US is facing toward China to the siege and conquest of Baghdad by the Mongols in 1258.

The Mongols, by themselves, did not have the capability to penetrate the twelve-foot-thick walls of the city of Baghdad. But they hired a thousand Chinese siege engineers. Within three weeks, the Chinese mercenaries breached the walls, at which point the Mongol horsemen went in and killed the entire population of Baghdad.

Who are today’s Chinese siege engineers who are breaching the American fortress?

Huawei very much is the spearhead, because in the Chinese model of economic expansion and the development of world economic power, broadband is the opener to everything else.
It’s a company with a lot of very talented people. Ten years ago – if you asked people, “What Chinese products do you buy?” – you wouldn’t mention a single brand name. But everyone now knows Huawei. They produce the world’s best smartphones. They certainly dominate 5G internet. But Huawei is not a Chinese company. It is an imperial company.

The Chinese empire is doing better than us because it’s absorbed the talent of a very large number of others.

As Important as Preference Falsification - The Overton Window

oftwominds |   If you're truly interested in finding solutions to humanity's pressing problems, then start helping us pry open the Overton Window. 

The Overton Window describes the spectrum of concepts, policies and approaches that can be publicly discussed without being ridiculed or marginalized as "too radical," "unworkable," "crazy," etc. The narrower the Overton Window, the greater the impoverishment of public dialog and the fewer the solutions available. Those holding power in a socio-economic-political system that's unraveling devote their remaining energy to closing the Overton Window so that only "approved" narratives and policies that support the status quo are "allowed" into the public sphere.

Everything outside this narrow band of status-quo-supportive narratives is immediately disparaged as "fake news," "Kremlin talking points," or other highly charged accusations designed to close the Overton Window--a process Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman called manufacturing consent: if no "outside" ideas are allowed, people accept the status quo as "all there is and all there can possibly be." 

This narrow Overton Window benefits those in power who are "legally looting" the system. There is another source of a narrow Overton Window: the cultural, social and political elites have no new ideas and so they cling to doing more of what's failed, relying on the past successes of now-failing strategies to cement their power. 

Michael Grant described how this failure of imagination and devotion to the past leads inevitably to decline and collapse in his excellent account The Fall of the Roman Empire, a short book I have been recommending since 2009:

Monday, October 21, 2019

Round this Trash Up On Its Way Back Into the U.S...,

NYTimes |  Speaker Nancy Pelosi has traveled to Jordan to meet with the Jordanian king for “vital” discussions about the Turkish incursion into Syria and other regional challenges, amid uncertainty about whether an American-brokered cease-fire with Turkey in northern Syria was holding.

The visit by senior United States officials came as sporadic clashes continued on Sunday morning along the Turkish-Syrian border, where, according to the Turkish Defense Ministry, a Turkish soldier was killed by Kurdish fighters in the Syrian border town of Tel Abyad. 

Confusion and continued shelling have marred the cease-fire deal announced by Vice President Mike Pence last week, with both Turkey and Kurdish leaders accusing each other of violating the truce.

Ms. Pelosi, a California Democrat, led a nine-member bipartisan congressional delegation to Jordan that included Representatives Adam Schiff, Democrat of California; Eliot L. Engel, Democrat of New York; and Mac Thornberry, Republican of Texas. The group met with King Abdullah II of Jordan on Saturday evening.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Take Back Apokolips

Tulsi Schmacked the Stank Clean Out of Hitlery's Girdle

tomluongo |  Tulsi Gabbard has stones. She has the kind of stones born of a life dedicated to the cause of serving others. 

She is the direct opposite of Hillary Clinton, for whom all causes serve herself and her enormous narcissism and pathology.

So seeing Gabbard go directly after Hillary Clinton after her debate performance the other evening where she explicitly called out both the New York Times and CNN (the hosts of the debate) for the hit jobs on her puts to rest any idea she’s someone else’s stalking horse.

Two weeks ago I asked if five tweets from President Trump changed U.S. foreign policy for good, Gabbard does him two better with these three tweets of absolute, Oscar Wilde-like beauty.


There is so much goodness to unpack in these tweets it is almost beyond my ability to do so.

Tulsi Gabbard Kicking Ass, Taking Names, and Looking Good....,

But perhaps the highlight was her directly calling out the very sponsors of the debate, CNN and the New York Times, for their “despicable” and baseless attacks. 
“Just two days ago, the New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears. This morning, a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia. Completely despicable,” she said.
The CNN charge specifically referenced comments made by Bakari Sellers on New Day on the morning of the debate. He said Gabbard is the “antithesis” of what the Democratic Party and the other candidates stand for, adding, “There is no question that Tulsi Gabbard, of all the 12, is a puppet for the Russian government.”

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Very Interested in These Lost Red-Headed Stepchildren....,

ineteconomics |  Under the shadow of a future darkened by climate crises, political instability, inequality, and super-human machines, how to best proceed? For some, the answer is more technology and scientific advancement; for others, better policies and political arrangements. Or some combination of these. 

Not enough, warns Jeremy Lent, author of The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning. First we’ll need to confront something deep in our psyches that prods us toward destruction. 

To get at that something, Lent traces a “cognitive history” of the human species in a book delivering big, sweeping ideas and a discipline-hopping approach drawing from neuroscience, archaeology, linguistics, and systems theory, the study of complex living systems. 

Lent argues that how we view the world arises out of language, specifically core metaphors that shape our values and culture, which in turn mold history in a reciprocal feedback loop. Cultural templates are often long lasting, but can also shift dramatically, sometimes in a generation or two. The process of cultural evolution, Lent observes, determines how well humans fare as much as the genes we inherit (there’s a feedback loop between culture and genes, too). 

As Lent sees it, you and I are in the midst one of history’s great transitions — a process which could lead to conditions far less hospitable for most, or even a total collapse of global civilization. To avoid these dire fates, we can train our brains to adopt alternative metaphors that allow us to live less destructively. 

So which metaphors are causing the trouble? For one, Lent faults a tendency to conceive a dualistic universe of binary categories, like mind and matter, reason and emotion, self and other. This framework, as the postmoderns observed, drives us to favor one category over the other and to build societies based on hierarchy and separation. 

The pattern is not universal: Lent presents evidence that early hunter-gatherers emphasized connectivity rather than separation, a mindset that engendered a more egalitarian social structure. (Unfortunately, they also lived by a metaphor of nature as an endlessly giving parent, resulting in problems like overhunting, which illustrates that even seemingly harmless metaphors can eventually lead to catastrophe).

To What Extent is Color a Physical Thing in the Physical World?

bbc | Depending on what language you speak, your eye perceives colours – and the world – differently than someone else. The human eye can physically perceive millions of colours. But we don’t all recognise these colours in the same way. 

Some people can’t see differences in colours – so called colour blindness – due to a defect or absence of the cells in the retina that are sensitive to high levels of light: the cones. But the distribution and density of these cells also varies across people with ‘normal vision’, causing us all to experience the same colour in slightly different ways. 

Besides our individual biological make up, colour perception is less about seeing what is actually out there and more about how our brain interprets colours to create something meaningful. The perception of colour mainly occurs inside our heads and so is subjective – and prone to personal experience.

Take for instance people with synaesthesia, who are able to experience the perception of colour with letters and numbers. Synaesthesia is often described as a joining of the senses – where a person can see sounds or hear colours. But the colours they hear also differ from case to case.

Another example is the classic Adelson’s checker-shadow illusion. Here, although two marked squares are exactly the same colour, our brains don’t perceive them this way.

Since the day we were born we have learnt to categorise objects, colours, emotions, and pretty much everything meaningful using language. And although our eyes can perceive thousands of colours, the way we communicate about colour – and the way we use colour in our everyday lives – means we have to carve this huge variety up into identifiable, meaningful categories.

Painters and fashion experts, for example, use colour terminology to refer to and discriminate hues and shades that to all intents and purposes may all be described with one term by a non-expert.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Preference Falsification

wikipedia |  Preference falsification is the act of communicating a preference that differs from one's true preference. Individuals frequently convey, especially to researchers or pollsters, preferences that differ from what they genuinely want, often because they believe the conveyed preference is more socially acceptable than their actual preference. The idea of preference falsification was put forth by the social scientist Timur Kuran in his book Private Truth, Public Lies as part of his theory of how people's stated preferences are responsive to social influences. It laid the foundation for his theory of why unanticipated revolutions can occur. It is related to ideas of social proof as well as choice blindness

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Exemplars or Mutant Fakirs?

wikipedia |  David Goggins (born February 17, 1975) is an American ultramarathon runner, ultra-distance cyclist, triathlete, motivational speaker and author. He is a retired United States Navy SEAL and former United States Air Force Tactical Air Control Party member who served in the War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War. He is a former world record holder for the most pull-ups done in 24 hours. His self-help memoir, Can't Hurt Me, was released in 2018. 

wikipedia |  Dean Karnazes (English: /kɑːrˈnɛˈzɪs/ car-NEH-zis; born Constantine Karnazes; August 23, 1962), is an American ultramarathon runner, and author of Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner, which details ultra endurance running for the general public.[3][4]

When Will the Sub-Two Hour Marathon Happen in Open Competition?

wired |  On Saturday morning in Vienna, Austria, Eliud Kipchoge, the world's finest marathoner, became the first person in history to run 26.2 miles in under two hours. His time of 1:59:40 required him to maintain an average pace of just under 4:35 per mile. That is, to put it mildly, soul-searing speed. Even a supremely fit person would struggle to run at so aggressive a clip for more than five or six minutes in a row. On Saturday, Kipchoge held it for just shy of 120.

But Kipchoge's performance will not be recognized as an official world record. The event was not an open competition; it was held for Kipchoge and Kipchoge alone. What's more, a rotating cast of pacers shielded him from wind throughout the run, and a bicycle-riding support team was on hand at all times to deliver him water and fuel. It was not so much a race, in other words, as an exhibition event designed for speed. A one-man, all-or-nothing time trial.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Eliminate Carbs for 3 Days - Use Protein and Fat for Energy Instead - See What Happens...,

healthline |  A no-carb diet is a way of eating that eliminates digestible carbs as much as possible.
Carbs are your body’s primary source of energy. They’re found in grains, beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, milk, yogurt, pasta, bread, and baked goods.

Therefore, someone on a no-carb diet must avoid most of these foods and instead eat foods that contain primarily protein or fat, such as meats, fish, eggs, cheese, oils, and butter.

There is no strict rubric for a no-carb diet. Some people who follow it eat nuts and seeds, non-starchy vegetables, and high-fat fruits like avocado and coconut.

Even though these foods have some carbs, they’re high in fiber. Therefore, they have only a minuscule number of digestible or net carbs, which is calculated by subtracting the amount of fiber from the total number of carbs (1).

A no-carb diet resembles a ketogenic diet, which limits your carb intake to fewer than 30 grams per day and encourages you to get 70% or more of your daily calories from fat (2Trusted Source). 

Depending on what you choose to eat, a no-carb diet can be more restrictive than keto.

FOH with Caloric Restriction! Ashy-Assed Betas are Simply Ashy-Assed Betas...,

technologyreview |  My bitterness peaked midway through day four of the “Fast-Mimicking Diet,” when a parent arrived at my daughter’s softball game with doughnuts. As little girls and fellow coaches crowded around the box, I stood apart, glumly sipping out of my special water bottle with its “proprietary” blend of nutrients.

For breakfast, I’d consumed a nut bar the size of a small cracker and a couple of vitamins. Lunch was five olives from Seville.

Frankly, I’d begun to resent Valter Longo, the inventor of Prolon, the five-day, $250 fad diet causing my misery. True, the Italian-born biochemist had seemed perfectly nice when I’d reached him at his office at the University of Southern California’s Longevity Institute a few days before to speak with him about the science behind the diet and what it might do for my general health and longevity. He had patiently explained how the diet would temporarily shift my body into a starvation state that would prompt my cells to consume years of accumulated cellular garbage before unleashing a surge of restorative regeneration. Getting rid of garbage had sounded like just what I needed. But now I blamed him for my predicament. I wanted a doughnut.

My Prolon “meal kit” had arrived in a white cardboard container a little bigger than a shoebox. Inside I’d found a meal program card spelling out the menu, a large empty water bottle emblazoned with the word “Prolon,” and five smaller cardboard boxes, each labeled with a corresponding day. I opened the box for day one, billed as a higher-calorie “transition day,” and was pleasantly surprised. It didn’t look so bad. I’d be sampling many of the diet’s highlights: a small packet of kale crackers, powdered tomato soup blend, algae oil supplements, a bag of olives, herbal tea, and not one but two nut-based bars (albeit distressingly small).

When I opened up day two, however, I began to get a better sense of what I was in for. One of the puny nut bars had been replaced by a glycerin-based “energy” drink, which I was instructed to add water to and sip on throughout the day. There was more herbal tea—hibiscus, mint, and lemon (I don’t even like herbal tea)—plus a couple more powdered-soup packs and two tiny packets of olives. Where was the rest of it?

Monday, October 14, 2019

Cosmic Longevity - Prerequisite for the Conquest of Space

technologyreview |  Izpisúa Belmonte believes epigenetic reprogramming may prove to be an “elixir of life” that will extend human life span significantly. Life expectancy has increased more than twofold in the developed world over the past two centuries. Thanks to childhood vaccines, seat belts, and so on, more people than ever reach natural old age. But there is a limit to how long anyone lives, which Izpisúa Belmonte says is because our bodies wear down through inevitable decay and deterioration. “Aging,” he writes, “is nothing other than molecular aberrations that occur at the cellular level.” It is, he says, a war with entropy that no individual has ever won.

But each generation brings new possibilities, as the epigenome gets reset during reproduction when a new embryo is formed. Cloning takes advantage of reprogramming, too: a calf cloned from an adult bull contains the same DNA as the parent, just refreshed. In both cases, the offspring is born without the accumulated “aberrations” that Izpisúa Belmonte refers to.

What Izpisúa Belmonte is proposing is to go one step better still, and reverse aging-related aberrations without having to create a new individual. Among these are changes to our epigenetic marks—chemical groups called histones and methylation marks, which wrap around a cell’s DNA and function as on/off switches for genes. The accumulation of these changes causes the cells to function less efficiently as we get older, and some scientists, Izpisúa Belmonte included, think they could be part of why we age in the first place. If so, then reversing these epigenetic changes through reprogramming may enable us to turn back aging itself.

Izpisúa Belmonte cautions that epigenetic tweaks won’t “make you live forever,” but they might delay your expiration date. As he sees it, there is no reason to think we cannot extend human life span by another 30 to 50 years, at least. “I think the kid that will be living to 130 is already with us,” Izpisúa Belmonte says. “He has already been born. I’m convinced.”

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Psyche - Foundation of Our Level II Constructions

Forbes |  NASA is preparing to explore a world made of metal. Confirming that the exciting Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration-led Psyche mission is now entering the build phase, NASA’s probe is now set to visit a mysterious asteroid between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It could be nothing less than the exposed core of a dead planet, with some suggesting that it could be worth a staggering $10,000 quadrillion.

What is asteroid Psyche?

While most asteroids are rocky or icy bodies, Psyche is thought to be a stripped planetary core, a very rare object in the solar system. While NASA missions like InSight drill into Mars to discover the origins of planets, Psyche offers an opportunity to inspect and study a planetary core up close. It appears to be the exposed iron-nickel core (just like Earth’s) of a proto-planet, a small world that formed early in the solar system's history, but never reached planetary size—much like Vesta and Ceres, which NASA's Dawn spacecraft explored. Could asteroid Psyche be the heart of an early planet as big as Mars that lost its rocky outer layers? Was it involved in violent collisions? NASA will help planetary scientists find out, and so tease-out lessons for how the solar system’s planets likely formed.

Did You Humans Crack This Isht And Then Hide It From Yourselves 70 Years Ago?

airplanesandrockets  |   By far the most potent source of energy is gravity. Using it as power future aircraft will attain the speed of li...