10/31/19

The Three Monkeys

By: Tabitha Korol

Even when one American – who has done nothing wrong – is forced by fear to shut his mind and close his mouth, then all Americans are in peril.  – Harry Truman

Some years ago, when I visited family in Buenos Aires, I was taken to a country club, one that no doubt had been quite fashionable in its heyday, an era of more than a half-century before.  What I saw now were the remnants of elegance, broken tile floors and grounds that were surrendering to the incursion of weeds, signs of a government that was not of, by, or for the people.

I was introduced to Beatriz, one of a group sitting poolside who spoke enough English to complement my conversance in Spanish.   Her interests included theater, but she soon came around to expressing her disdain for America because we had the temerity to build the tallest Twin Towers of the World Trade Center to flaunt our wealth and we were therefore deserving of the 9/11 destruction!  I explained that America was not in the real estate business, that businesses constructed buildings high enough to accommodate more companies on an island that could not expand into the surrounding ocean – and does envy render pardonable the death of thousands?  I’d already known about and noted that Dubai held the dubious honor of having the world’s tallest building and I have since learned that America’s first skyscraper was the Home Insurance Building in Chicago in 1886.  A formidable ten stories high!  What an impudent undertaking!

She also disparaged America because she reads so much about our country in their local papers, but so little of her own.  I clarified our freedom of the press, that our journalists were free to report about anything to be read anywhere, whereas Argentina’s despotic regime undoubtedly controlled what was reported or withheld from the public.  Our chat soon dwindled, and we turned to join other conversations.  I suppose Beatriz would now be gleeful to learn that our socialist news sources also withhold the news, and actually craft their reports to suit their biased perspective.

We were born with a power of thought and speech, the ability to ideate and communicate to others, our equals under God and superior to other life forms.  Yet there is a powerful faction, a self-anointed, arrogant cabal of leftists, socialists, globalists, the sharia-compliant, and the United Nations – that has placed itself beyond criticism, determined to destroy our humanity.  In true totalitarian fashion, they had long been indoctrinating our vulnerable youth in schools, while the media brainwash the population at large, special forces (CAIR) influence our clergy, and shadow opponents work against our duly elected president.

With God removed from the classroom during the Obama years, and more recently from the oaths in Congress, the new, highest “Authority” fills the void, and the weak in faith and undereducated succumb to the new rulers.  The Authority now has the facility to take God-given life, before and after birth, and use any means and myths to threaten destruction and visit misery upon the masses.

Indoctrination is used to manipulate, make fearful, insinuate doubt and distrust of centuries-old truths, Biblical concepts of morality and basic human rights, science, and logic.  Our history is dismissed as inaccurate and evil, our Constitution proclaimed unessential.  In fact, without amending the Constitution, the Authority has profoundly impacted the First Amendment with its control over the press/media and our freedom of speech.  Words have been expunged from our vocabulary through intimidation or their definitions twisted, so that “diversity” has led to more polarization, justice to “social justice,” liberty denounced for equality, and the FBI manuals purged of crucial information to disguise the threat of the lethal ideology of Islam.  The children are immersed in Islamic rituals, prayers, and anti-Zionist ethnic studies, learn nothing about the dangers of totalitarianism, and the public is bullied into silence.

I am reminded of an old set of carvings from my childhood – The Three Monkeys that Speak no evil, See no evil and Hear no evil.  The guidance (hear not, listen not, and speak not what is contrary to propriety) is believed to have originated in China, c. 2nd to 4th century BCE, to express Confucius’s Code of Conduct, to keep evil from their lives.  It was used in the Japanese folk religion Koshin and combined with Chinese Taoism and the Shinto influence by the Tendai-Buddhist monks in the late 10th century, and even served as a good luck amulet by British soldiers during World War I.

Now, The Three Monkeys have taken a sinister turn.

What was originally meant to teach self-control in order to keep the masses from being defiled by evil may now be understood quite differently.  Today’s Authority is using those same concepts to “protect” our society from the truth and exact control over those with whom they differ – the  “untermenschen,” who may be defined as Hitler’s “inferiors” or Hillary’s “deplorables.”  The Authority has intentionally created an environment of imbalance and fear.  Where students and the general population are intimidated into obeying the new rules, those who are not convinced of their virtues are usually too afraid to speak up.  Society is policing itself.

Students have been indoctrinated through Common Core and its social justice agenda (including LGBTQ dogma); Instructional material is under the complete control of Bill Gates/Microsoft and vendors; students and teachers are held accountable through repeated tests; a national database, including personal information, is maintained on all students and educators; and the students are dumbed down so that they cannot read well or develop their logical/analytical higher-reading skills, leaving them open to low-level reading materials saturated with leftist indoctrination.  (For more on this fiendish totalitarian ideology, please read Donna Garner.)

Our youth have been taught to hate all that America stands for, obsessing over increased bigotry and worsening racial divide, and terrified by unproven climate change.  Transformed into social warriors, the children work against their own rights granted by their Creator and reaffirmed in the Constitution of the United States.  Instead of increasing their knowledge base while also enjoying college life and campus camaraderie, there is increasing tribalism, enmity, and distrust.  They are putting their faith in the frightening myths, a perfect method of distraction while the Authority continues to consume more control.

An egregious, unforgivable assault on the youth is the psychological damage done by forcing them into sexual dysphoria, a psychological disorder treated as an endocrinological condition.  The prescribed drug used in the hormonal treatments has resulted in adverse reactions in 40,764 children and more than 6,000 deaths over 15 years, and an increased suicide rate. Boys are now being taught that their bodies can function as women’s bodies, leading to unimaginable psychological damage and the destruction of our male population, the strength of our workforce, our military, and fatherhood.

As they reach the age that in the past meant marrying and having a family, the young men are now severely maligned (called privileged, white male supremacists, etc.) and shamed, with some, as a consequence, joining groups of masked, militant fascists who cause damage to their own cities.  Young women are discouraged from marrying and having children and incited to undergo abortions.

Adults are now leaving conversations and auditoriums, seemingly afraid to hear an idea that conflicts with their preconceived mindsets; this is ideophobia.  The Authority has put into place every measure of control, a pernicious form of solitary confinement or full burqa.

This war has turned Americans against themselves.  Those who will not see, hear, or engage in political conversation are our neighbors, our friends, our family.  They will not discuss what is happening to our country, the destructive cost of the policies, the Islamic conquest in Africa and Europe, the increased antisemitism, the disappearance and capture of thousands of Christian girls in the UK for sexual slavery, the stabbings of innocents on the streets worldwide.  To avoid evil is to avoid helping the already victimized, embolden the enemy, and increase our own vulnerability. The self-righteous are too eager to suggest that we are incapable of self-sustainment, but we must all be worthy of determining what is best for ourselves.

We who can still think and communicate are a great threat to the Authority.  If we join others who see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil, we will also not see, hear, and speak for good and what is best for us.  In that case, we will do nothing, and the Authority will reign supreme.

“America will never be destroyed from outside.  If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.  – Abraham Lincoln

10/31/19

Young Adults Fed Up with SJW and LGBTQ Tyranny

By: Lloyd Marcus

The new “Batwoman” TV series featuring an openly lesbian Batwoman is failing big-time. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that young adults are turned off by the show’s extreme woke and SJW (social justice warrior) politically correct messaging. “Woke” means you are aware of social and racial injustice. “Woke” also means straight white men are the source of all evil and must be punished. Women and minorities are perfect in every way. Woke culture says anyone who dares criticize a woman or a minority hates women and minorities.

Batman fans are outraged over the “Batwoman” TV series trashing Batman and its in-your-face trashing of men. If there were such a thing as a woke-a-meter with a range of 1-10, “Batwoman” would receive an 11.

It was a pleasure to learned that young adults are fed up with SJW Hollywood writers and producers destroying their favorite movie franchises. The 2016 Ghostbusters movie bombed, losing $70 million, infected with woke. SJW has infected Star Wars and various superhero movies. Angry fans say, “Get woke, go broke!” Hollywood has declared that SJW, diversity, and gender-swapping in movies is more important than entertaining stories.

Critics rave about movies that check all the right SJW boxes; praising homosexuality, feminism, and minorities while trashing straight white men. Meanwhile, fans avoid such movies in droves.

It blows my mind that despite losing mega-millions Hollywood is undeterred, hellbent on cramming SJW political messaging down our throats. As a Christian, I believe a spirit of anti-Christ is driving Hollywood’s financially illogical behavior. Hollywood producers love to poke fun of and demonize Christians. They freely use Jesus’ name in vain. And yet, they would never dare to use Muhammad’s name in vain.

In response to the failure of the 2016 Ghostbusters movie, the filmmakers attacked the fans, calling them woman-hating trolls. The star of the “Batwoman” series, Ruby Rose, attacked viewers for the show’s plummeting ratings. Rose said the show is not for old white men.

Clearly, Hollywood’s SJW writers and producers have disdain for average Americans. Loyal fans of various movie franchises say they feel crapped upon. Ignoring fan’s rejection, Hollywood pushes full-speed ahead on creating a new America in which wholesome traditions, biblical principles, and values are burned on the altar in worship to their god of debauchery.

Democrats and fake news media share Hollywood’s agenda and hatred for average Americans. Average Americans love President Trump. This is why Americans of all stripes begin lining up at venues two days before Trump rallies. Democrats and fake news media attack Trump voters for rejecting their SJW politics. Hollywood attacks the public for rejecting their SJW propaganda movies.

SJW culture is destroying women’s sports. Even leftist feminists are outraged that men who identify as women are dominating women’s sports. Feminist leaders say not only is mainstream media blacking out their opinions, these women fear for their lives for saying it is crazy to allow men to compete as women in women’s sports.

A part of me feels like saying, “Don’t come crying to us. You repeatedly vote for Democrats who are hellbent on cramming the LGBTQ agenda down the throats of mainstream Americans.” Over 95% of the population is heterosexual. Why have Democrats, fake news media and Hollywood made forcing the LGBTQ agenda upon America the most important issue of our times?

Leftist feminists and my brain-dead black relatives typically side with Democrats against their best interests. Trump has black unemployment at historic lows. And yet, idiots in my extended family hate Trump simply because their Democrat plantation slavemasters tell them to hate him. They choose to ignore the truth that Trump has been awesome for blacks. Yes, their stupidity annoys me.

Folks, I am elated that hip young adults who are not particularly political are finally complaining about SJW culture being injected into everything.

Hollywood’s laser-focus on promoting SJW has created a huge void for quality entertainment. We have a golden opportunity to fill that void. Perhaps, this is why well-crafted Christian movies are doing so well at the box office.

Conservative filmmaker Robert Kirk is seeking funding to produce his full-length feature film comedy which skewers the deep state. Film festival audiences laugh hysterically at Robert’s award-winning short version of his film. Not only is Robert’s film hilarious, he exposes the traitors who planned a silent coup against our president.

Please check out Robert’s three-minute trailer of his award-winning comedy, Alien Anthropologists. Here is the link to his website. Your assistance in acquiring funding is greatly appreciated.

Batman fans cringed hearing Batwoman deliver her SJW line that Batman’s suit will be perfect when it is resized to fit a woman. Leftist feminists are outraged that transgender cyclist Rachael McKinnon won the women’s Masters Track Cycling World Championships.

Young adults are fed up with SJW movies and TV shows and LGBTQ tyranny. I say thank you, God.

Lloyd Marcus, The Unhyphenated American
Help Lloyd spread the Truth
http://LloydMarcus.com

10/31/19

Nancy and The Democrats Take Aim At a More Perfect Union

By: Denise Simon | Political Vanguard

The preamble of the U.S. Constitution references a desire to form a more perfect union, to establish justice and to ensure ‘domestic tranquility’…

Well, as it is plain to see in this Divided Era, we hardly have domestic tranquility at the hands of this misguided impeachment inquiry process, which has officially passed the House led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Adam Schiff.

Pelosi did not hold the gavel during the debate process prior to the vote.  Perhaps she wanted to make it clear that her caucus is driving this foul political judgment at the hands of the Democrats.

As you consider that point, a question is in order.

Are we really to believe that we are going to lose the Republic because of an alleged quid pro quo phone call between President Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine?

Speaker Pelosi did take to the House floor for her debate moment.  She accused President Trump of establishing his own government monarchy and then went on to say the Founders gave us documents that were amendable.  In short, she declared President Trump is usurping his power.

In truth, usurping power by Democrats, not President Trump, was on full display in the House on October 31.  It is the Democrat majority that is overriding the will of the people and the minority Representatives. It is the Democrats that are calling selected witnesses and that have engaged in secret operations utilizing an unprecedented number of designated House committees performing an unprecedented number of inquiries.

It is worth mentioning that forming a more ‘perfect union’ should be an ongoing quest.  It should be pursued and achieved by each oath-taker in government. A divided nation is not a union at all, which speaks to the fact that cooperation and compromise no longer exist in Washington, D.C.

The rules published for the impeachment inquiry and used as a basis for the now passed House resolution, however, prove there is no cooperation let alone compromise. The Republicans are placed in a fully subservient position at the hands of Speaker Pelosi. The Republicans have to ask for permission in the process and Congressman Schiff has the power and authority to deny any and all Republican requests, including calling witnesses and having access to documents and testimony.

The preamble’s stated goal to ‘establish justice’ is also null and void. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy called on Pelosi to answer questions centered on the impeachment inquiry process in a letter asking for fairness and transparency to be put on public display. McCarthy asked ten questions in the letter. There was no reply from Pelosi or Schiff other than full speed ahead.

Where does this leave America?

Major unfinished legislative business has fallen on the floor without votes. The People’s business has been dismissed as trivial when matters regarding pay raise for the military, the USMCA gets no vote, when sanctuary cities continue to manifest public safety, when cyber technology is threatened due to ignoring the China threat of 5G and stolen intelligence, when Space is the new battlefield and social media causes more chaos.

Voters are so ill-informed and misguided because twisted media presentations that apathy by American citizens limits their ability to control Washington, D.C.  All of which puts our representative government in full peril.

Finally, the Democrats’ use of a prop on the floor does not turn President Trump’s request of a foreign ally to assist in rooting out decades of corruption in Ukraine into an abuse of power by a sitting President, who by definition of the Office of the Presidency is the top law enforcement agent of the land.

Hey Speaker Pelosi and Democrats: Do America a favor and seek domestic tranquility and take steps to get America out of political peril. Your Oath has meaning and words matter.

10/31/19

The Lebanon Government Just Fell

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Primer:

Lebanon’s prime minister has demanded “justice” at the trial of four members of Hezbollah who are suspected of planning and executing the assassination of his father, Rafik Hariri.

Prosecutors say Hariri, a billionaire and former prime minister, was targeted by the armed group in 2005 because he opposed Syria’s control over Lebanon.

He was killed along with 21 others on February 14, 2005, when a massive truck bomb hit his convoy in the capital Beirut.

Understand the Bigger Picture of Syria, History With An ...

Again…

In November of 2017, Saad al Hariri resigned.

Hariri had promised he would return to Lebanon in time to mark its 74th independence day on Wednesday and would clarify his position.

On Tuesday he travelled to Cairo to see the Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whom he thanked for his support for Lebanon.

Hours later Hariri flew from Cairo to Larnaca in Cyprus where he met late at night with President Nicos Anastasiades, said a Cyprus government spokesman.

After a brief visit he flew on to Beirut where he is expected to take part in the independence day military parade early on Wednesday and the customary reception at the presidential palace.

Hariri’s Future Movement called on supporters to gather at his home in downtown Beirut at 1pm local time.

A dual Saudi citizen who has previously enjoyed Riyadh’s backing, Hariri resigned in a mysterious broadcast from the Saudi capital, accusing arch-rival Iran and its powerful Lebanese ally Hezbollah of destabilising his country.

But President Michel Aoun has yet to accept Hariri’s resignation, insisting he present it in person once back in the Lebanese capital.

During Hariri’s two-week stay in Riyadh, Aoun accused Saudi authorities of holding him “hostage” and demanded that he enjoy freedom of movement.

After mediation efforts by Egypt and France – which held former mandate power over Lebanon – the 47-year-old premier left Riyadh on Saturday.

He headed to Paris for talks with the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and pledged he would be home by Wednesday.

“As you know I have resigned and we will discuss that in Lebanon,” he said. Hariri said he could walk back from his resignation if Hezbollah withdrew from regional conflicts, including Syria. On the day Hariri resigned, the Saudi kingdom said it intercepted a ballistic missile fired by Tehran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen at Riyadh.

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Saad al-Hariri resigned as Lebanon’s prime minister on Tuesday, declaring he had hit a “dead end” in trying to resolve a crisis unleashed by huge protests against the ruling elite and plunging the country deeper into turmoil.

Hariri addressed the nation after a mob loyal to the Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah and Amal movements attacked and destroyed a protest camp set up by anti-government demonstrators in Beirut.

It was the most serious strife on the streets of Beirut since 2008, when Hezbollah fighters seized control of the capital in a brief eruption of armed conflict with Lebanese adversaries loyal to Hariri and his allies at the time.

Hariri’s resignation on Tuesday points to rising political tensions that may complicate the formation of a new government capable of tackling Lebanon’s worst economic crisis since its 1975-90 civil war.

The departure of Hariri, who has been traditionally backed by the West and Sunni Gulf Arab allies, raises the stakes and pushes Lebanon into an unpredictable cycle. Lebanon could end up further under the sway of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah, making it even harder to attract badly-needed foreign investment.

It also defies Hezbollah, which was part of his coalition and wanted him and the government to stay on. Hariri is seen as the focal point for Western and Gulf Arab aid to Lebanon, which is in dire need of financial support promised by these allies.

Lebanon has been paralyzed by the unprecedented wave of protests against the rampant corruption of the political class.

“For 13 days the Lebanese people have waited for a decision for a political solution that stops the deterioration (of the economy). And I have tried, during this period, to find a way out, through which to listen to the voice of the people,” Hariri said.

“It is time for us to have a big shock to face the crisis,” he said. “To all partners in political life, our responsibility today is how we protect Lebanon and revive its economy.”

Under Lebanon’s constitution, the government will stay on in a caretaker capacity as talks begin on forming a new one. It took nine months to form the Hariri coalition cabinet that took office in January.

As night fell, protesters returned to central Beirut waving Lebanese flags, seemingly unfazed by the violence.

Some described Hariri’s resignation as a victory for the “Oct. 17 uprising” and said the attack on the protest camp had redoubled their determination.

“What happened is a point of strength for us … If the thugs come in bigger numbers, so will we,” said Kamal Rida, a protester in central Beirut. “The tents that are broken can be rebuilt, easy.”

The turmoil has worsened Lebanon’s acute economic crisis, with financial strains leading to a scarcity of hard currency and a weakening of the pegged Lebanese pound. Lebanese government bonds tumbled on the turmoil.

TENTS ON FIRE

On the streets of Beirut, black-clad men wielding sticks and pipes attacked the protest camp that has been the focal point of countrywide rallies against the elite.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, head of the heavily armed, Iran-backed Hezbollah, said last week that roads closed by protesters should be reopened and suggested the demonstrators were financed by its foreign enemies and implementing their agenda.

Smoke rose as some of the protester tents were set ablaze by Hezbollah and Amal supporters, who earlier fanned out in the downtown area of the capital shouting “Shia, Shia” in reference to themselves and cursing anti-government demonstrators.

“With our blood and lives we offer ourselves as a sacrifice for you Nabih!” they chanted in reference to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, head of the Amal Movement. “We heed your call, we heed your call, Nasrallah!” they chanted.

Security forces did not initially intervene to stop the assault, in which protesters were hit with sticks and were seen appealing for help as they ran, witnesses said. Tear gas was eventually fired to disperse the crowds.

Hariri did not refer to the violence in his address but urged all Lebanese to “protect civil peace and prevent economic deterioration, before anything else”.

France, which has supported Hariri, called on all Lebanese to help guarantee national unity.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged the formation of a new government responsive to the needs of the Lebanese people.

“The Lebanese people want an efficient and effective government, economic reform, and an end to endemic corruption,” Pompeo said in a statement.

LEBANESE POUND UNDER PRESSURE

Lebanon’s allies last year pledged $11 billion in financing to help it revive its economy, conditional on reforms that Hariri’s coalition government has largely failed to implement.

But there has been no sign of a rush to help.

A senior U.S. State Department official said last week this was not a situation where the Lebanese government should necessarily get a bailout, saying they should reform first.

Banks were closed for a 10th day along with schools and businesses.

Hariri last week sought to defuse popular discontent through a batch of reform measures agreed with other groups in his coalition government, including Hezbollah, to – among other things – tackle corruption and long-delayed economic reforms.

But with no immediate steps towards enacting these steps, they did not placate the demonstrators.

Central bank governor Riad Salameh called on Monday for a solution to the crisis in just days to restore confidence and avoid a future economic meltdown.

A black market for U.S. dollars has emerged in the last month or so. Three foreign currency dealers said a dollar cost 1,800 pounds on Tuesday, weakening from levels of 1,700 and 1,740 cited on Monday.

The official pegged rate is 1,507.5 pounds to the dollar.

“Even if the protesters leave the streets the real problem facing them is what they are going to do with the devaluation of the pound,” said Toufic Gaspard, an economist who has worked as an adviser to the IMF and to the Lebanese finance minister.

“A very large majority of the Lebanese income is in the Lebanese pound, their savings are in the Lebanese pound and their pension is in Lebanese, and it is certain it has already started to devalue,” he said.

10/31/19

People Schiff Refuses to Call for Testimony on the Ukraine Case

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

The newly drafted rules that the Pelosi office published to set-up the vote for a ‘formal’ impeachment inquiry sets out that the Republicans can only make requests for witnesses, yet Congressman Schiff and those on the majority in the HPSCI can refuse. Swell huh? Then there is the matter that Schiff is quite selective with those he wants to testify omitting so many others with regard to UkraineGate.

This is a long, very complicated affair so to boil it down, members of Congress know full well the money-laundering and even cases of murder when it comes to Ukraine and you should have a sense of it as well.

During the Robert Mueller Russian collusion investigation, there were several lawyers and FBI money-laundering experts where you can bet much of this information came across their desks. You must also understand that any sitting president, and in this case President Trump, cannot deliver taxpayer dollars in the form of foreign aid to countries teeming in corruption without affecting diplomatic policy and asking for cooperation to root out corruption. Perhaps some of the Schiff witnesses that have provided testimony including LTC. Alexander Vindman should rethink some of these actions and conclusions with regard to Trump’s interactions with matters dealing with Ukraine and China and countless other countries.

As an example of the complications that Congressman Schiff and his committee are ignoring, there are at least two Ukrainian oligarchs that essentially stole an estimated $5.5 billion from Ukraine, Ihor Kolominsky and Gennady Bogolyubov. He is also ignoring seeking the testimony of Congresswoman Debbie Jessika Mucarsel-Powell. She represents the Florida 26th District and prior to that, she was a volunteer for John Kerry’s presidential campaign and then later the Obama presidential campaign. Debbie’s husband, Robert Powell was paid $700,000 is on retainer as an attorney for Ukrainian Oligarch Ihor Kolominsky’s companies. Daily Beast reported in part last year: “Kolomoisky, who sicced his own private army on the Russians after they invaded eastern Ukraine, has been accused of sponsoring contract killings.” Swell client there, Robert.

The matter of the corruption with regard to Ukraine extends quite beyond the Bidens and Burisma. In fact it goes far past just a few million dollars and in fact, the numbers really exceed 6 billion. More on that later.

Corruption in Ukraine should be measured in not years but rather decades. The corruption does not stay within Ukraine but spreads to Cyprus, the United Kingdom and even all the way to Delaware and Ohio.

On January 16, the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) published key findings from a report by Kroll that backed allegations of large-scale fraud at PrivatBank, which was taken over by the state in December 2016. These include claims by employees that the bank acted as a “vacuum cleaner”, with business development geared towards attracting deposits that were then dispersed as loans to companies related to the bank’s owners, Igor Kolomoisky and Gennadiy Bogolyubov. According to Kroll, a “loan recycling scheme” was devised to conceal the fraud, whereby new loans were continually issued to new related parties to repay the principal and interest on older loans. Multiple internal transactions within the Privat group, including between the Ukrainian operation and units in Cyprus and Latvia, were also reportedly used to disguise fund flows.

***

Prior to this, in fact, in 2007 and 2008, the US has been active in Ukraine for some time. In 2007, the firm Vanco won a contract to extract gas from the Black Sea, a deal that was annulled by Tymoshenko after the firm passed on the rights to another company that included eastern Ukrainian and Russian business interests. Yanukovych’s government worked hard to win over US and multinational firms for oil and gas extraction in Ukraine. Kyiv signed a contract with the US-based Chevron at the end of 2013 to extract shale gas in the west of the country. Another deal with the energy giant ExxonMobil – for gas in the Black Sea area – was abandoned following opposition protests.

But the news about the appointment of Hunter Biden has sparked allegations of nepotism – not least because it was revealed just a few weeks after his father’s visit to Kyiv on April 22. Neither Burisma or the US State Department responded to DW’s requests for comment. White House spokesman Jay Carney would say only that Hunter Biden was a private citizen and that his job had no impact on US policy. Ukrainian media reports about Burisma reveal an impenetrable web of companies, most of which are registered in Cyprus. One name, Mykola Slotshevski, appears more than once. The 47-year-old is thought to have been the original owner of the company – at least until recently.

Now Schiff compelled Rudy Giuliani to preserve all documents. Others named in the Schiff schedule include: Igor Framan, Lev Parnas, Joseph di Genova, Victoria Toensing, Hunter Biden, Burisma Holdings Ltd., Joseph Biden, the Democrat National Committee and even Hillary Clinton. This had to be just a gesture as none of them have been called for testimony.

What does Congress know? Plenty. Back in September, there were some interesting floor presentations on key Ukraine corruption items. Reference the congressional record from September 25, 2019, pages 4 and 5. Ukraine corruption reached Delaware and Ohio, beyond our congresswoman in Miami.

Will America see any real consequence of some of these people anytime soon? Hardly. In case you want to know why we have to get somewhat technical and in fact, we may have to wait on the UK to finish their own legal process prosecuting all things Ihor Kolomoisky and this banking scam involving PrivatBank where that pesky $6 billion went missing. By the way, that bank had to be nationalized by Ukraine in an effort to stabilize and recover some of the monies.

So if you do want to get into the weeds, read on. Courtesy of Kyiv Post.

Ihor Kolomoisky is a Ukrainian oligarch and the former governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. He owns media, steelmaking, ferroalloy, oil and gas assets, as well as luxury real estate, water terminals, and airplanes. All of these assets are part of the informal Privat business group controlled by him and business partner, Gennadiy Bogolyubov. Due to ongoing court cases, the assets are now partially frozen.

However, the freeze was imposed only on those assets directly registered to the billionaire or involved in a series of alleged schemes to withdraw $5.5 billion dollars from PrivatBank, the country’s largest financial institution.

Other Kolomoisky assets are hidden in offshore or registered on trusted individuals.

Law enforcement agencies aren’t the only ones who want to see the ownership structures of Kolomoisky’s companies. His former business partners are also curious.

Businessman Vadym Shulman has been pursuing Kolomoisky in court since 2015. Earlier, in 2014, another oligarch, Victor Pinchuk, engaged in litigation with Kolomoisky and accused him not only of appropriating his business but even of murder.

Shulman and Pinchuk are demanding that the ownership structure of the long list of companies registered in offshore jurisdictions be disclosed. These companies own real estate, steel, and ferroalloy plants in the United States and Georgia.

None of these companies is directly registered to Kolomoisky. But all of them have common managers, lawyers, and even addresses. According to both businessmen’s lawsuits, they are all controlled by Kolomoisky.

The same group of managers run not only these companies, but also several groups of firms involved in the PrivatBank case.

Panikos Symeou is the managing partner of the Cypriot law firm Symeou & Konnaris LLCAccording to its website, this company highly values privacy and trust.

Fugitive Ukrainian businessmen like oligarch Serhiy Kurchenko and former National Bank head Serhiy Arbuzov apparently also appreciate these qualities. Panikos Symeou was the head of their Cypriot firm Sabulong Trading, LTD.

In 2017, this company was among the offshore companies that the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine confiscated $1.3 billion from. They had been stolen from the country by the criminal organization created by ousted former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

Ihor Kolomoisky entrusts Panikos Symeou with a much wider list of assets — for example, media, steel factories, tire production companies, and water terminals.

Symeou’s role is very clear in the ownership structure of Dnipropetrovsk television channel Pryvat TV Dnipro (Channel 9). Symeou is the trusted individual through whom Kolomoisky owns the channel. 

The ownership structure of Pryvat TV Dnipro, LLC (Channel 9). (Nadiya Burdey/Anti-Corruption Action Center)

Steel business in the US

Panikos Symeou also has a clear role in the ownership structure of steel factory Warren Steel Holdings LLC in the state of Ohio. The company is nominally registered to the offshore firm Halliwel Assets, Inc in the British Virgin Islands. But, in 2015, one of the owners of the factory disclosed the names of all its beneficiaries in court.

According to case materials, the factory belongs to three Ukrainian businessmen: Vadym Shulman, Bogolyubov and KolomoiskyThe latter controls the factory through Symeou.

Shulman initiated that court case. In 2001, he bought the derelict factory and relaunched it. Then, in 2006, Bogolyubov and Kolomoisky became its co-owners.

In 2012, Schulman said he began to suspect his partners of fraud. During his own investigation, he discovered that Warren Steel had concluded loan agreements and sales contracts with other companies controlled by Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov on conditions that were unprofitable for the factory.

According to Shulman, his partners burdened the factory with debts to their own companies in order to receive full control over the assets of Warren Steel.

Shulman’s hypothesis was confirmed in August 2014 when Kolomoisky’s representative, Panikos Symeou, agreed to another $25-million loan for Warren Steel Holdings from the company Optima Acquisitions, LLC. That company was also controlled by Kolomoisky, Shulman said. The media repeatedly reported this without providing any evidence.

In 2015, Shulman filed suit against Warren Steel Holdings, LLC, Panikos Symeou, the company Halliwel Assets, Inc and the president of the Warren Steel factory Mordechai Korf.

TRUSTED PERSON № 2: Mordechai Korf

Mordechai Korf is Ihor Kolomoisky’s American business partner and the director of his multiple steel and manganese enterprises in the United States. In particular, Korf was not only the president of the Warren Steel factory but also the co-owner of Optima Acquisitions LLC, which gave loans to the factory.

Optima Acquisitions is an investment company registered in Delaware, a state that does not disclose firms’ beneficiaries. Korf has run this company since 2008. Optima Acquisition also owns another American company, Optima Specialty Steel, Inc., which owns several steel factories in various U.S. states.

Journalists have previously tied the name Kolomoisky to the Optima group of companies, but this connection was only confirmed during Optima Specialty Steel’s bankruptcy case. According to case materials, Korf, Kolomoisky, and Bogolyubov each owned 33 percent of Optima Acquisitions LLC in 2017.

The connections of Ihor Kolomoisky and Mordechai Korf. (Nadiya Burdey/Anti-Corruption Action Center)

At the end of 2017, Optima Specialty Steel completed its plan of reorganization (bankruptcy) and was rebranded as Specialty Steel Works, Inc. The corporate agent was changed as well as the entire leadership of the company.

In an official press release, the company stated that it would continue to manufacture and sell steel products through its four wholly-owned subsidiaries: Michigan Seamless Tube & Pipe, the Niagara LaSalle Corporation, the Corey Steel Company, and Kentucky Electric Steel. Each of these companies owns a factory in the United States.

Michigan Seamless Tube & Pipe predictably owns a factory located in Michigan. The company manufactures seamless cold-drawn pipes for the aerospace, mining, construction, automotive and agricultural industries.

The Niagara LaSalle Corporation owns a factory that manufactures steel parts for automotive, construction and agricultural machinery in Indiana.

The Corey Steel Company’s factory is located in Cicero, Illinois. It manufactures steel bars.

At the end of 2018, another American company, Steel Dynamics, Inc.acquired Kentucky Electric Steel.

Kolomoisky’s tires

In Ukraine, the name Panikos Symeou is not only connected with the business structures of Kurchenko and Kolomoisky’s Dnipro television channel. The Cypriot is also the co-owner of a Ukrainian plant for producing oversized tires through the company Manita Investments Limited.

The beneficiary controller of the tire plant is Dnipro resident Anna Yesipova. One hundred percent of the plant’s shares belong to the Cypriot company Manita. It, in turn, is owned by another Cypriot company Sykon Secretarial Limited. Fifty percent of the latter belongs to Panikos Symeou.

The Ukrainian Factory of Oversized Tires and a Romanian factory operate under the same brand name and have one website. An excerpt from the State Register of Romania contains the address of company Euro Tyres Manufacturing SRL’s website: www.eurotire.net. The same website also contains the address of the Ukrainian branch, the Ukrainian Factory of Oversized Tires, that owns factory premises.

Therefore, according to the Eurotire website, the factory is part of a large international corporation that manufactures oversized tires for Eurotire’s mining equipment. The representative offices of this company are located in the United States, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Ukraine, and Russia. The factories that manufacture such tires are only located in Ukraine and Romania.

A screenshot from the EuroTire YouTube channel showing the countries where the company operates. (Youtube/Eurotire)

In particular, the corporation supplied tires for the company Ferrexpo PLC in Ukraine, which is controlled by Ukrainian dollar billionaire Kostyantyn Zhevago. Ferrexpo PLC owns the Ukrainian Poltava Mining and Processing Plant OJSC, which mines iron ore.

EuroTire’s advertising video states the company cooperates with Ferrexpo PLC.

According to a report published on the Euro Tyres website, more than $300 million were invested in this factory in 2007.

As of March 15, 2019, the owner of the factory is the Romanian company Euro Tyres Manufacturing SRL. This company belongs to two other offshore companies: EuroTyre S.A from the British Virgin Islands and the American Euro Tyres Corporation.

But Panikos Symeou is not the only person who ties Kolomoisky to the international Eurotire corporation. There are also two other links. One of them is the oligarch’s business partner, Uri Laber.

TRUSTED PERSON №3: Uriel Tzvi Laber

Uriel Tzvi Laber is an American who has been actively developing business in Ukraine since the 1990s. Laber is especially interested in oil. During 1997-1999, he founded two fuel companies, Mavex LLC and Petroleum-Invest, LLC.

And, in 2010, Laber became a member of the Supervisory Board of Ukrnafta PJSC. As of March 11, 2019, he still holds this position. Laber is also the director of the American company Optima International of Miami, Inc. According to Bloomberg, this company manufactures tires and is s subsidiary of CB PrivatBank PJSC.

And, of course, Laber himself is the director of the Eurotire group of companies.

The connections of Ihor Kolomoisky and Uri Laber. (Nadiya Burdey/Anti-Corruption Action Center)

The connections between Eurotire and Kolomoisky don’t stop there. The Ukrainian and offshore Eurotire companies are involved in PrivatBank-related cases.

As of 2019, the Ukrainian plant for producing over-sized tires is the subject of criminal proceedings by the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine over the embezzlement of money from CB Privatbank PJSC, allegedly committed by the management and owners of a substantial part of the bank. Prior to the bank’s nationalization in 2016, one of its co-owners was Igor Kolomoisky.

The Ukrainian plant for producing over-sized tires received a loan in the amount of several million dollars from PrivatBank and did not return the money. When the National Bank uncovered problems inside PrivatBank and Kolomoisky committed to restructuring its loan portfolio, employees of the bank transferred the debt from 193 existing companies to non-operating, newly-created companies, which did not have sufficient funds to service the loans. In particular, the debts of actually existing assets — like the oversized tire plant, were transferred to a newly-created company.

Another offshore company, British Virgin Islands-registered Eurotyre S.A., which owns 99 percent of the factory in Romania, is connected to another embezzlement scheme

According to case materials, PrivatBank officials and owners created a criminal organization and, in 2008-2015, withdrew Hr 12,5 billion ($478 million) in the form of loans to 15 Ukrainian companies. Instead of mortgages, these companies transferred contracts for paid goods to the bank.

So in 2014, Ukrainian company Mondial, LLC concluded an agreement with the non-resident Eurotyre S.A. for the purchase of 21,000 tons of natural rubber for $77 million. This contract was created in the form of a mortgage that Mondial transferred to PrivatBank when it received the loan. Therefore, the company Eurotyre S.A. is obliged to transfer rubber worth $77 million to the bank.

In February 2019, the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv granted the Prosecutor General’s Office access to the contract and a number of other documents located at the office of Eurotyre S.A (Vanterpool Plaza, P.O. Box 873, Wickhams Cay I Road, Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands).

The court granted access to documents in criminal proceeding No. 42017000000001823 as of June 6, 2017 “on the fact of creating a criminal organization, as well as operating such an organization and participation in it in order to obtain the cash funds of CB PrivatBank PJSC in especially large volumes during 2008-2016 by former officials of CB PrivatBank PJSC.”

The court’s decision states that former PrivatBank officials involved “owners and managers of a number of business entities, as well as representatives and final beneficiaries of a number of foreign companies that are connected to the bank through individuals” in order to bring the bank to insolvency.

Kolomoisky’s silico-manganese industry 

Kolomoisky’s partners Korf and Laber also operate the oligarch’s ferroalloy business in the U.S. and Georgia.

In 2015, Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk pursued Ihor Kolomoisky in the High Court of London.

Pinchuk stated that, in the mid-2000s, he gave Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov money for the purchase of one of the largest iron ore mining companies in Ukraine. But he received neither the company nor money from them. Pinchuk estimated the profit lost during all these years at $2 billion.

But in January 2016, a few days before the court hearing, Pinchuk, Kolomoisky, and Bogolyubov reached a peace deal: Kolomoisky pledged to give part of the money from the ferroalloy business to Pinchuk.

The ferroalloy holding includes the Nikopol, Zaporizhzhya and Stakhaniv ferroalloy factories and the Marganets and Ordzhonikidze mining and concentrating combines in Dnipropetrovsk region. In fact, none of these Ukrainian ferroalloy enterprises belong to either  Pinchuk or Kolomoisky.

In 2016, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) published a presentation on the import of silico-manganese. The report also contains a list of Ukrainian ferroalloy factories. According to the Commission, these companies are controlled by Kolomoisky and Bogolyubov. The report also contains a list of the oligarchs’ other ferroalloy assets located in the United States, Georgia, and Australia.

A slide from the 2016 report by the United States International Trade Commission (USITC).

Viktor Pinchuk filed an appeal to a Florida court with a request to disclose the ownership property ownership of Georgian American Alloys, Inc. (Delaware), CC Metals and Alloys, LLC (Delaware), Felman Production, LLC (Delaware), and Felman Trading, Inc. (New Jersey). Although these companies are formally registered in offshore jurisdictions and, accordingly, the companies’ owners are not visible, the directors of all these companies were and remain Kolomoisky’s partners Korf and Laber.

Another manager of the companies Felman Production, LLC, Felman Trading, Inc., and the Euro Tyres Corporation is Robert Powell, the husband of Florida Democratic Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

In the November 2018 midterm election, Debbie Powell won her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. That same year, The Miami Herald reported that the Democrat’s husband had been working as the general lawyer in companies controlled by Ihor Kolomoisky for over 10 years. Robert Powell has earned $695,000 while working for these companies in the past two years.

  • “I have never worked for, represented…or received any payments from Kolomoisky,” Powell stated during his wife’s campaign.

Mordechai Korf confirmed the statement. He said that Powell concluded his contracts and that he did not have any direct relationship with Kolomoisky. According to Korf, Powell left the company in 2017.

The Democrat’s husband submitted companies Felman Trading and Robert Powell PA as the source of his income in his latest financial report in 2017.

However, according to Florida’s official register, he signs reports on behalf of Felman Production, LLC even in 2019.

Symeou, Privat, and water terminals 

Panikos Symeou and Uriel Laber’s entanglements don’t end with factories and the media. They are also tied to Ukrainian water terminals.

In an interview with the Ekonomichna Pravda news site, Igor Kolomoisky mentioned the Borivazh water terminal a few days before the second round of the presidential election. The oligarch stated that former national bank chief Valeriya Gontareva was interested in this asset.

The head of the National Bank allegedly wanted to purchase the terminal for Hr 100 million ($3.8 million) and resell it for Hr 250 million ($9.5 million). That is why, Kolomoisky claims, she conducted the nationalization of Privatbank without any formal grounds. That was a violation of his rights, he alleges.

The American corporate investigations firm Kroll, which looked into PrivatBank before nationalization, has effectively refuted this claim. But in this context, the very mention of the terminal is interesting: it has never formally belonged to the oligarch.

The company Borivazh

According to case materials, the property of three companies — the Black Sea Fuel Terminal, the Illichivsk Sea Fishing Port and Borivazh — was re-registered at an underestimated value to three other controlled companies: Optima Trade, Agroterminal Logistic and Dar Torg.

The founders of Dar Torg are Cypriots Panikos Simeou and his partner Christakis Konnaris.

And wasn’t complete strangers who re-registered the property of all three terminals, which was valued in total at Hr 683 million ($26 million). According to the investigation, Anatoliy Tereshchenko, the 73-year-old head, and accountant of Optima Trade, and Volodymyr Kigitov, founder of Black Sea Fuel Terminal PJSC at that time, did the re-registering.

Anatoliy Tereshchenko is no stranger in Kolomoisky’s world. He was officially employed at the company Mavex, which was co-owned by Kolomoisky partner Uriel Tzvi Laber until 2007.

Laber has been a member of the Supervisory Board at Ukrnafta PJSC since 2010. Fifty percent of this enterprise belongs to the state, while the other half is owned offshore and controlled by Kolomoisky.

And, of course, companies from this group — which formally do not belong to Kolomoisky — received hundreds of millions of dollars in loans from PrivatBank when it belonged to the oligarch. Borivazh LLC received more than $120 million. , the money was not returned to the creditor, and the property has already been re-registered to another firm.

Agroterminal Logistic also received a loan. This company has already paid Hr 996 million ($38 million) to the National Bank of Ukraine. But this is only a third of the Hr 3.6 billion ($137.4 million) in debt, according to loan agreement No. 120.

Recently, Ihor Kolomoisky explained that fear motivates him to register all his assets to trusted persons or offshores. He is supposedly afraid to disclose the ownership structures of companies because they could then be appropriated by President Petro Poroshenko. But Kolomoisky started registering businesses in offshores long before Poroshenko’s presidency. He started after 2000, during a period of active privatization.

This publication is the first of an upcoming series of stories on the trusted persons of Ukrainian oligarchs by the pep.org.ua project of the Anti-Corruption Action Center. More information and documents about politically exposed persons and their close associates are available at pep.org.ua.

10/29/19

The Secret X-37B Just Landed After 2 Years in Space

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

Though the Air Force doesn’t disclose the X-37B’s precise orbit, keen-eyed amateur astronomers have managed to track the vehicle from the ground — and so can you, thanks to their efforts. Check out Space.com’s satellite tracker to see where the X-37B is overhead during a mission. The view won’t be dramatic; the space plane usually looks like a star of middling brightness moving across the sky. More here.

The U.S. Air Force’s top-secret spaceplane, the Boeing X-37B, landed in Florida early Sunday after 780 days—over 2 years and one month—in orbit around the Earth. And we still have no idea what it was doing while it was up there.

The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle-5 (OTV-5) mission was the fifth time that the uncrewed vehicle has flown around the world, beating the duration of the fourth mission, which landed in May of 2017 after 718 days in orbit. This most recent mission launched from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on September 7, 2017.

“The X-37B continues to demonstrate the importance of a reusable spaceplane,” Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett said in a statement posted online. “Each successive mission advances our nation’s space capabilities.”

What are those capabilities? We don’t know the specifics. But according to the Air Force, the X-37B has the unique ability to “test new systems in space and return them to Earth” and the mission “successfully completed” all of its objectives.

Military leaders, many of whom were previously skeptical of the need for an entirely new branch of the armed services, appear to be excited about President Donald Trump’s Space Force and the way that the X-37B might play a role in that branch of the military. At least that’s the gist you get reading the Air Force’s press release.

“The safe return of this spacecraft, after breaking its own endurance record, is the result of the innovative partnership between Government and Industry,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein said in a press release. “The sky is no longer the limit for the Air Force and, if Congress approves, the U.S. Space Force.”

This latest mission launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida and landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility on October 27, 2019, at 3:51 a.m. The last time this spaceplane came back to Earth there was video of the landing. This time, however, there was no video, perhaps because the landing took place in the predawn hours.

“This program continues to push the envelope as the world’s only reusable space vehicle. With a successful landing today, the X-37B completed its longest flight to date and successfully completed all mission objectives,” said Randy Walden, Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office director.

“This mission successfully hosted Air Force Research Laboratory experiments, among others, as well as providing a ride for small satellites.”

The Air Force says it plans to launch the sixth X-37B mission from CCAFS in 2020. And you can bet good money we won’t know much about that launch either.

What do you think they were doing up there? A couple of missions ago, something like “aliens” may have been a ridiculous guess. But we’ve sure learned a lot about U.S. military contact with unidentified flying objects since this mission first launched in September of 2017.

I’m not saying they’re flying aliens around in a super-secret Air Force spaceplane. But they’re probably flying aliens around in a super-secret Air Force spaceplane.

10/29/19

Big Warnings of China Military Expansion

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

McRaven, the former head of Joint Special Operations Command overseeing the U.S. Navy SEAL team that took down Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at his Pakistan compound in 2011, noted that Chinese technologies such as 5G commercialization is already beating the United States.

The Chinese military displayed several weapons during its National Day parade, including a new supersonic jet that can reportedly reach speeds faster than Mach 3.3, at more than 2500 miles per hour.

The PLA’s Latest Strategic Thinking on the Three Warfares

The supersonic jet, called the DR-8, could play a key role in a potential conflict with the U.S. military in the South China Sea.

“China has invested a lot of resources into military science and technology development in a bid to enhance its nuclear deterrence capability over the past years, which Beijing believes represents a strategic measure in countering the global military hegemony [of the United States],” Hong Kong-based military analyst Song Zhongping said.

Additionally, China doubled its nuclear arsenal in the past decade and is set to double it again in the next, top U.S. Strategic Command (Stratcom) officials stated in August.

“China has long had a no-first-use policy, and yet they’ve doubled their nuclear arsenal in about the last decade, and they’re on track to double it again in the next decade,” said Rear Admiral Michael Brookes, director of intelligence for Stratcom.

As noted by Newt Gingrich:

Now, imagine that China launches a campaign against Taiwan with the help of Russian air forces.

This would entirely change the dynamic, making it much more difficult and costly (in blood and treasure) – and much less likely for any sort of U.S. victory. Now, instead of a focused conflict with China over a specific piece of territory, the U.S. would have to decide whether it wanted to risk engaging with a cooperative China and Russia at the same time.

For many years, China and Russia were like two estranged communist relatives, but that is changing. In recent years, China and Russia have cooperated in a number of military exercises – and their first long-range joint air patrol in the Asia-Pacific region this past summer.

Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin 24 times since 2013, while he has only met with his U.S. counterpart 16 times during that period.

This activity creates a real potential for a China-Russia strategic alliance which would turn much of our national security planning and strategy on its head.

Republic of China, Taiwan | Operation World

China considers Taiwan one of its own provinces yet Taiwan is independent which China is fighting. Known as the ‘one-China policy’, Western nations including the United States are not to have any kind of relationship with Taiwan but the United States does and this is one of the causes in the trade negotiations.

After decades of China’s veiled threats to invade and a long-running campaign to get Taiwan’s allies to shift their diplomatic allegiance to Beijing, researchers, government officials, and lawmakers in Taipei all say that China is pursuing a new tactic in the runup to Taiwan’s Jan. 11 presidential vote: election meddling. “China is following the steps from Russia,” says Tzeng Yi-suo, head of cyberwarfare at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, which is advising Taiwan’s government on ways to counteract the interference. “In our election campaign periods, there is a most striking influence campaign coming from the Chinese Communist Party.”

China’s disinformation apparatus goes well beyond what it considers its borders, according to an analysis published by Harvard researchers in April. Using proxies around the world and some of the same social media platforms it bans at home, the government in Beijing posts 448 million comments a year aimed at promoting a pro-China agenda or sowing discord, the researchers found. In August, Twitter Inc. suspended 936 mainland Chinese accounts, part of a larger network of 200,000 spam accounts it disabled because of what it called a “significant state-backed operation” working to undermine Hong Kong’s pro-democracy demonstrations. On Sept. 20 it suspended an additional 10,000. Facebook Inc. and YouTube have disabled accounts for similar reasons. In December, new foreign-influence laws went into effect in Australia aimed at blocking China’s efforts to sway politics and key decision-makers in that country.

Chinese agencies have been launching an estimated 30 million cyberattacks against Taiwan a month, according to the government’s director general of cybersecurity, Jyan Hong-wei. The patterns indicate Chinese state involvement, he says. Read the full detailed summary here.

10/29/19

Importing Middle East Terrorism

By: Cliff Kincaid

Obama bureaucrats in the CIA are still stinging over President Trump’s dramatic decision to both withdraw U.S. forces from northern Syria and take down the leader of ISIS. The decision was a win-win, as the communist terrorist PKK/YPG Kurds in northern Syria were dealt a military defeat by Turkey, and the ISIS terrorist leader was sent to hell, as a result of U.S. military might and canine expertise.

But now, American and other ‘volunteers” who went to the Middle East to fight for a Kurdish utopia known as Rojava are coming back to America to continue their revolutionary struggle here.

It never made sense for the U.S. to back one set of terrorists, the PKK/YPG, against another, ISIS. But that was Obama’s conscious and deliberate policy. Trump decided he would pursue a pro-American foreign policy that respected our ally Turkey and would leave both terrorist groups in ashes. In another masterstroke, Trump wisely decided to withhold details of the anti-terrorist operation from the leakers and liars on Capitol Hill.

Now, the Kurds are whining to their Obama handlers, many still in the national security bureaucracy. Hence, the same CIA bureaucrats who engineered Obama’s no-win policy are now retaliating with smears of Trump in the fake news media. They placed an anti-Trump article in the Tuesday New York Times, under the long title, “As Kurds Tracked ISIS Leader, U.S. Withdrawal Threw Raid Into Turmoil.” The theme was that Trump betrayed the Kurdish “allies” who had helped locate the ISIS leader by stealing his underwear.

Here’s how the Times put it: “…even as the Syrian Kurdish fighters were risking their lives in the hunt that led to Mr. al-Baghdadi’s death this weekend, Mr. Trump abruptly shattered America’s five-year partnership with them.”

That “partnership” was initiated by the previous Obama Administration, which has blood on its hands for funding various terror groups in an effort to initiate “regime change” in Syria and Libya.  Let’s remember that Obama’s legacy was up to 500,000 dead in Syria, Libya became a disaster as well, and Germany welcomed a Muslim invasion of Europe.

The PBS Newshour ran an interview with Obama’s CIA Director, John Brennan, in which he called the outcome “regrettable.”

How does Obama’s CIA director get away with simply saying that the human misery and suffering in Syria spilling over into Europe are “regrettable?” Where is the accountability for this debacle? And on what legal and constitutional basis did Obama take America to war in Syria anyway?

Perhaps this is why Brennan and his comrades conceived Russia-gate. It was a largely successful effort to divert public attention from the bloody policies they pursued in the Middle East.

It’s not as if the media didn’t understand what Obama’s CIA was doing. The Washington Post and the New York Times both reported that a secret CIA operation to train and arm “rebels” in Syria had cost $1 billion by the middle of 2015. The Post said the CIA program set up in 2013 was “to bolster moderate forces.” But according to Brennan on PBS, more radical groups joined the fight, leading to a “regrettable” situation.

Those groups joining the fight included the Kurdish PKK/YPG. But they were supported overtly by the Obama Administration, using the CIA and the Pentagon to create a new nation-state of Rojava in northern Syria. Members of Antifa, anarchist, and communist groups in the U.S. went there to fight for this new socialist paradise. They formed an “International Freedom Battalion,” a “socialist fighting group of foreign volunteers fighting ISIS and Turkey in Syria.”

Like the CIA and Pentagon war in Syria, Obama’s intervention in Libya was also illegal and unconstitutional. But the media failed to acknowledge the facts. Under the War Powers Act, a president can go to war on his own only if there is an imminent threat to the U.S., and there is a 60-day deadline for the withdrawal of forces. Obama violated both provisions of the law. There was no direct or immediate threat to the U.S. from Libya or Syria, and Obama ignored the 60-day deadline for approval from Congress.

Back in 2007, then-Senator Obama had loudly declared that: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

One result of Obama’s Libya intervention was the Benghazi massacre of four Americans.

Obama’s intervention in Syria could result in “blowback” on American soil.

Consider the fact that Americans and others fighting for the PKK in Syria produced a film, “We Need to Take Guns,” about their effort. A masked fighter in the film says “this is how internationalism works,” and that those who came to the region would take their experiences “back home.”

Earlier this year, the Times had actually featured an article about some of the “American volunteers.” These were among the “hundreds of civilians from Western nations” fighting for the new Marxist state of Rojava in the PKK/YPG military units. “I’ve always hated capitalism and materialism,” said one American from Texas. “What the Kurds are doing fits with what I believe.”

In fact, in the wake of the PKK/YPG defeat against the Turks, many of these fighters may be returning to the U.S. as hardened communists with military skills, including bomb-making.  A “Solidarity With Rojava” organization in the U.S. claims affiliates in several American cities and has announced a “World Resistance Day” against the U.S. and Turkey.

The theme of Trump “betraying” the PKK/YPG terrorists serves to further radicalize left-wingers in love with the mythical state of Rojava. There was never an “alliance” with the Kurds, as the paper claimed. Obama used them against ISIS, based on their expectation they would eventually get their own state in northern Syria. It was a fiction that Obama’s CIA dangled in front of them. But Trump was having none of it.

Whatever the Kurds did, they did on their own behalf. But Trump was under no obligation to them. Instead, he had a commitment through NATO to NATO member Turkey, which has been attacked by the PKK/YPG for decades, losing thousands of their citizens to terrorism. In Syria, these units called themselves the Syrian Democratic Forces. Their presence on Turkey’s border was a clear and present danger.

Instead of sticking by the Kurdish Marxists, who always had their own terrorist agenda, the United States had and has an obligation to NATO member Turkey to turn over alleged YPG/PKK terrorist leader Ferhat Abdi Sahin, codenamed Mazloum Kobani. The Turkish Embassy says he has killed 41 Turkish civilians and wounded more than 400 in his 28 years in the PKK terrorist organization.

Indeed, Turkey has requested the extradition of Mazloum Kobani under the Treaty on Extradition and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the US and Turkey.

But several U.S. senators are moving in the opposite direction, asking the Trump Administration to expedite a visa for Kobani to enter the U.S. They are Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee), Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut)

This is a dangerous time and we can expect more of the same “betrayal of the Kurds by Trump” stories since they conveniently divert attention from Obama’s illegal and immoral policy of arming them in the first place without Congressional approval. Many Obama bureaucrats in the intelligence community and the Pentagon are implicated in this bloody and disastrous policy. They hate Trump for putting a stop to the endless war.

But now, the carnage could come to America.

The February Times article noted that some of the PKK/YPG volunteers “have returned to the United States, where they are often detained on arrival for questioning about their activities,” but that none so far have been prosecuted. However, “…that could change if Turkey — a NATO ally — goes to war with the Kurdish forces in Syria,” the paper said.

As a result, the communist and anarchist hotheads may now be returning to the United States, to take up arms against Trump, who engineered the perceived “betrayal” of their comrades.

America’s new Civil War could be taking an ominous turn.

10/29/19

DEMOCRACY DIES IN DARKNESS: ISIS Edition

Doug Ross @ Journal

Just when you thought legacy media had hit bottom, they break out the Komatsu tunneling gear and begin drilling new sub-levels. Biff Spackle illustrates:

On second thought, “Democracy Dies In Darkness” — the Washington Post’s slogan — is an apt description for this failed enterprise disguised as a media outlet.

Hat tip: BadBlue Uncensored News, my replacement for Drudge.

10/28/19

The USA PATRIOT Act: The Story of an Impulsive Bill that Eviscerated America’s Civil Liberties

Ammo.com

The USA PATRIOT Act: The Forgotten History of the Bill that Destroyed America's Civil LibertiesThe USA PATRIOT Act provides a textbook example of how the United States federal government expands its power. An emergency happens, legitimate or otherwise. The media, playing its dutiful role as goader for greater government oversight, demands “something must be done.” Government power is massively expanded, with little regard for whether or not what is being done is efficacious, to say nothing of the overall impact on our nation’s civil liberties.

No goals are posted because if targets are hit, this would necessitate the ending or scaling back of the program. Instead, the program becomes normalized. There are no questions asked about whether the program is accomplishing what it set out to do. It is now simply a part of American life and there is no going back.

The American public largely accepts the USA PATRIOT Act as a part of civic life as immutable, perhaps even more so than the Bill of Rights. However, this act – passed in the dead of night, with little to no oversight, in a panic after the biggest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor – is not only novel, it is also fundamentally opposed to virtually every principle on which the United States of America was founded. It might not be going anywhere anytime soon, but patriots, liberty lovers and defenders of Constitutional government should nonetheless familiarize themselves with the onerous provisions of this law, which is nothing short of a full-throttle attack on the American republic.

What’s Even in the USA PATRIOT Act?

What is in the USA PATRIOT Act? In the Michael Moore film Fahrenheit 9/11then Rep. John Conyers cracked wise about how no one had actually read the act and how this was in fact par for the course with America’s laws. Thus, before delving into the deeper issues surrounding the PATRIOT Act, it is worth discussing what the act actually says. Here’s a brief look at the 10 Titles in the PATRIOT Act:

  • Title I: Enhancing Domestic Security Against Terrorism: This provision dramatically expands the powers of the President, the military and the intelligence community whenever the specter of “terrorism” is invoked. Bizarrely, it contains a provision condemning discrimination against Arabs, Muslims and South Asians, which seems to have very little to do with protecting Americans from terrorism.
  • Title II: Enhanced Surveillance Procedures: Title II contains the meat of the Act with regard to massive, industrial-scale surveillance on the American public. Beyond the simple spying on Americans and their communications, Title II increases the ability of federal intelligence agencies to share your private communications with one another.
  • Title III: International Money Laundering Abatement and Financial Anti-Terrorism Act: Not simply a section of the USA PATRIOT Act, Title III is an Act of Congress in its own right. You might have noticed how much more difficult it is to open a bank account or send a wire transfer after 9/11. You can blame this provision, which shredded banking privacy rights in the United States.
  • Title IV: Protecting the Border: Other than expanding the number of federal employees (of course), the provision of the USA PATRIOT Act charged with protecting America’s borders does little other than point toward paths for future action and study. It is worth noting that the weakest provision of the act is the only one explicitly authorized by the Constitution — protecting the border.
  • Title V: Removing Obstacles to Investigating Terrorism: Title V authorizes bounties for the apprehension of alleged terrorists, broadens government power to conduct DNA analysis, allows for greater data sharing between law enforcement agencies and, perhaps most disturbingly, requires private telecommunication carriers to comply with government requests for electronic communication records whenever requested by the FBI. It also expands the power of the Secret Service to investigate computer fraud.
  • Title VI: Providing for Victims of Terrorism, Public Safety Officers and Their Families: Perhaps the most innocuous portion of the USA PATRIOT Act, Title VI provides for a victims’ fund for victims of terrorism and their families.
  • Title VII: Increased Information Sharing for Critical Infrastructure Protection: The subtitle of this section of the act is a rather wordy way of saying that the United States federal government is allowing for law enforcement agencies to share information across jurisdictional boundaries in an easier fashion than was previously legal. To that end, the Bureau of Justice Assistance was given a $50,000,000 budget for 2002 and a whopping $100,000,000 budget for fiscal year 2003.
  • Title VIII: Strengthening the Criminal Laws Against Terrorism: Title VIII is where the rubber meets the road: What exactly is terrorism, according to the federal government? Unfortunately, this Title does little to clarify what terrorism is, instead focusing on declaring a number of actions (such as attacks on transit) as “terrorism,” regardless of intent.
  • Title IX: Improved Intelligence: The section subtitled “improved intelligence” largely expands the powers and responsibilities of the Director of Central Intelligence.
  • Title X: Miscellaneous: When the federal government titles a segment of a law “miscellaneous,” you know it’s going to include everything and the kitchen sink. And so it does: The definition of electronic surveillance, additional funds for the DEA in South and Central Asia, research on biometric scanning systems, a limitation on hazmat licensure and infrastructure protections are all addressed in Title X, which is a catchall for everything the federal government forgot to address in the first nine sections of the law.

Most of the provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act were set to sunset four years after the bill was passed into law. However, the law was extended first by President George W. Bush and then by President Barack H. Obama. The latter is particularly scandalous given that, at least in part, a rejection of the surveillance culture that permeated the Bush Administration was responsible for the election of Obama in 2008.

Passing the USA PATRIOT Act

Next, it’s important to remember the environment in which the USA PATRIOT Act was passed: Post-9/11. It is not the slightest bit of exaggeration to label the environment in which the PATRIOT Act was passed as “hysterical,” nor is “compliant” a misnomer for the Congress of the time. Opposition to the Act was slim and intensive review of one of the most sweeping acts of Congress in American history was nonexistent.

All told, Congress took a whopping six weeks drafting, revising, reviewing and passing the PATRIOT Act. That’s less time than Congress typically spends on totally uncontroversial and routine bills that don’t gut the Fourth Amendment. The final vote found only 66 opponents in the House and one (Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold) in the Senate. The entire passage of the PATRIOT Act, from start to finish, took place behind closed doors. There were no committee reports or hearings for opponents to testify, nor did anyone bother to read the bill.

“Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” is the bloated and overwrought full name of the bill, crafted by a 23-year-old Congressional staffer named Chris Cylke. This ridiculous name puts the focus not on the surveillance aspects or the erosion of basic civil liberties enshrined in Western society since the Magna Carta, but on patriotism. At the time of its creation, the messaging was very clear: Real patriots support massive intrusions on civil rights. As President George W. Bush said at the time, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” This sentiment very much seemed to apply to American citizens.

While the argument that if you have nothing to hide you shouldn’t fear investigation is anathema in a Constitutional republic with regard to citizens, it should be standard operating procedure when it comes to our organs of government. If we cannot expect transparency from the United States Congress – elected officials charged with representing the will of the people and protecting the Constitution – then we certainly can’t expect it anywhere else.

The Unfortunate Growth of the USA PATRIOT Act

It’s no surprise to those in the liberty movement that given an inch, the government (in particular the military-intelligence community) took a mile. Even the nebulous definition of “terrorism,” largely centered around a long litany of acts rather than the motivation behind them, has expanded to include receiving military training from a proscribed organization (without actually committing any terrorist acts or even acts of violence of any stripe) as well as “narcoterrorism” – the latter particularly convenient, as the United States government continues its losing “War on Drugs.”

Indeed, in many ways, the War on (Some) Drugs was the template for the War on Terror. Both wars have no defined enemy, no defined terms of victory. Instead, they are waged against a nebulous concept, while enjoying bipartisan support for their ever-expanding budgets. What’s more, it didn’t take long for the Feds to start using the USA PATRIOT Act for things it was never intended for, including prosecuting the War on Drugs.

Perhaps the silliest application of the USA PATRIOT Act is the prosecution of Adam McGaughey. McGaughey maintained a fansite for the television series Stargate SG-1. The Feds charged him with copyright infringement and computer fraud. In the course of their investigation, the FBI leveraged the PATRIOT Act to get financial records from his website’s ISP. This was made possible by the USA PATRIOT Act amending the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, allowing for search and seizure of ISP records.

The New York Times discovered in September 2003, that the USA PATRIOT Act was being used to investigate alleged drug traffickers without what would otherwise be sufficient probable cause. These were investigations into non-terrorist acts using a law ostensibly designed to investigate terrorism. There was some suspicion that the Act was being used to investigate crimes occurring before the act was passed, violating the ex post facto clause of the United States Constitution.

In one of the biggest power grabs (excluding virtually everything we know from Edward Snowden – more on that below), the FBI sent tens of thousands of “national security letters” and procured over one million financial records from targeted businesses in Las Vegas. These businesses were primarily casinos, car rental bureaus, and storage spaces. The data obtained included financial records, credit histories, employment records, and even people’s personal health records.

The FBI maintains and databases this – and, indeed, all information collected through the USA PATRIOT Act – indefinitely. In the good old days before the PATRIOT Act, the Feds were compelled to destroy any evidence they collected on someone later found not guilty of a crime. Note that the aforementioned data collection brought to public attention by Edward Snowden (which, again – we’re getting to that) falls under this provision. Not only is the government collecting obscene amounts of private and personal information about you, they’re also storing it indefinitely with no plans to stop.

What’s more, the FBI has approached public libraries to turn over the records for specific terminals, collecting information not about specific users who might be under investigation, but about anyone who has ever used the computer at the public library. Libraries, to their credit, have been very much at the forefront of resistance against the PATRIOT Act, with some litigating compliance despite operating on small budgets and others posting “canary letters,” which effectively say “The FBI Hasn’t Been Here Yet.” The removal of such a letter would warn patrons that the FBI has been sniffing around in their records.

Indeed, the greatest criticism of the PATRIOT Act is the simplest and perhaps most obvious: Why does an act ostensibly passed to fight terrorism so drastically expand the government’s power to investigate virtually everyone else? The PATRIOT Act is not merely unconstitutional, it is an unprecedented expansion of state power in the Anglosphere, a culture based on restricted government and the primacy of individual rights.

An excellent example of this is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) expansion. Most people are familiar with the term “FISA court,” but very few people actually know what it is – a special federal court created under the Carter Administration that grants approval of electronic surveillance of both citizens and resident aliens in the event that they are accused of acting in the service of a foreign power. The last part of this sentence is very important: The FISA courts are not simply for allowing surveillance of anyone that it might be expedient to collect information about. The scope of their powers is very, very limited.

Or was.

The PATRIOT Act lowered the burden of evidence required to obtain a FISA warrant for electronic surveillance and expanded the overall scope of the FISA courts. Any savvy federal agent can now drape his charges in the garb of (what else?) “national security” and obtain electronic surveillance privileges hitherto only dreamed of by investigators. FISA courts have become pliant tools in the hands of the Feds, gladly approving their requests to monitor phone and internet surveillance, as well as access to medical, financial and educational records.

The Future of the USA PATRIOT Act

Do we still need the PATRIOT Act? Did we ever? All laws are certainly a product of their times. But this seems much more acutely true of the USA PATRIOT Act, which was passed in a rush and under duress without due consideration.

Particularly in light of the revelations from Edward Snowden – that the government is spying on everything they possibly can – it’s worth asking if there’s any walking back. He points out that the police state apparatus was originally for drug dealers, then for terrorists, but ultimately ended up being applied to anyone and everyone.

What’s more, Bob Bullard notes another frightful aspect of the USA PATRIOT Act: Terrorism-related cases are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. This means that there is little or no oversight. There is no surer hallmark of a police state than an all-powerful domestic surveillance agency with no transparency or oversight. While the USA PATRIOT Act might not create an American Stasi as such, it certainly paves the way for one.