Trump and Allies Expel Russian Diplomats/Operatives

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

President Donald Trump ordered 60 Russian diplomats the U.S. considers spies to leave the country and closed Russia’s consulate in Seattle. The closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle due to its proximity to one of our submarine bases and Boeing.” The U.S. officials said more than 100 Russian intelligence agents work under cover as diplomats in the U.S. and described the number as unacceptable. They said the U.S. could take further action in the future. The 60 people expelled from the U.S. include 48 attached to the Russian embassy and 12 at the country’s mission to the United Nations. They have seven days to leave the country, the officials said. More here.

Russian Consulate, Seattle

London (CNN)It’s the biggest collective expulsion of alleged Russian intelligence officers in history, according to British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Diplomats are being kicked out of at least 21 countries — 16 European Union states, the United States, Canada, Ukraine, Norway and Albania — in a coordinated effort that represents a significant diplomatic victory for the UK, which blames Russia for poisoning Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia.

The UK has already expelled 23 Russian diplomats. Moscow retaliated by sending the same number of UK diplomats back, and by shuttering British cultural institutions in the country.

Here’s what each country is doing: 

European Union nations

Croatia: Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said Croatia will expel one diplomat.

Czech Republic: The Czech Republic will expel three diplomats, Prime Minister Andrej Babis and Foreign Minister Martin Stropnicky announced a press conference. The Czech Foreign Ministry tweeted that it declared the diplomats “personae non gratae.”

The UK had already expelled 23 Russian diplomats. People were seen hugging at the Russian Embassy in London on March 20.

Denmark: The Foreign Ministry announced two diplomats would be expelled. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with Britain and clearly say no to Russia at a time when Russia is also in threatening and seeking to undermine Western values and the rule-based international order in other areas,” Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen said.

Estonia: Estonia Foreign Ministry told CNN one Russian diplomat, a Russian defense attaché, will be expelled.

Finland: Finland will expel one diplomat, the Foreign Ministry said.

France: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian announced the expulsion of four diplomats, who must leave the country within a week. He said that the decision followed the European Council’s conclusions that the attack “posed a serious threat to our collective security” and that France was acting “in solidarity with our British partners.”

Germany: The German Foreign Ministry said Monday it would expel four diplomats. “In close coordination within the European Union and with NATO allies, the Federal Government has decided to ask four Russian diplomats to leave Germany within seven days. The request was sent to the Russian Embassy today,” the ministry said in a statement.

Hungary: The Foreign Ministry said Hungary would expel one diplomat over “what has been discussed at the European Council meeting,” adding that the diplomat was “also conducting intelligence activities.”

Italy: The Italian Foreign Ministry says it will expel two Russian diplomats from the embassy in Rome “as a sign of solidarity with the United Kingdom and in coordination with the European partners and NATO.”

Latvia: The Foreign Ministry told CNN it would expel one diplomat and one private citizen who runs the office of a Russian company in the capital, Riga.

Lithuania: Foreign Affairs Minister Linas Linkevicius said on Twitter the country would expel three diplomats “in solidarity with the UK over #SalisburyAttack.” Lithuania would also sanction an additional 21 individuals and ban 23 more from entering the country.

Netherlands: Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the expulsion of two diplomats, saying the use of chemical weapons was unacceptable.

Poland: Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it would expel four diplomats and said the attack showed how “a similar immediate threat to the territory and citizens of EU and NATO member states can happen anywhere.”

Romania: Romania’s Foreign Ministry said on Twitter that one diplomat would be expelled.

Spain: The Foreign Ministry said Spain will expel two diplomats. “From the outset, we have considered the nerve agent attack in Salisbury to be an extremely serious development that represents a significant threat to our collective security and to international law,” the ministry said on Twitter.

Sweden: The Foreign Ministry told CNN it will expel one diplomat.

Non-EU countries

Albania: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told CNN it will expel two Russian diplomats. In a statement, the ministry said called each diplomat a “persona non grata” and said the pair’s activities were “not compliant to their diplomatic status.”

Canada: Ottawa said it was expelling four Russian diplomats alleged to be intelligence officers “or individuals who have used their diplomatic status to undermine Canada’s security or interfere in our democracy.” Additionally it was refusing three applications by Moscow for additional diplomatic staff. “The nerve agent attack represents a clear threat to the rules-based international order and to the rules that were established by the international community to ensure chemical weapons would never again destroy human lives,” Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said.

Norway: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told CNN it would expel one Russian diplomat in response to the attack. “The use of a nerve agent in Salisbury is a very serious matter,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said in a statement. “Such an incident must have consequences.”

Ukraine: President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine, which has experienced years of hostility from Russia, including the annexation of Crimea, would expel 13 diplomats. “Russia has again reconfirmed its disdainful attitude to the sovereignty of independent states and the value of human life.”

United States: The White House said it was expelling 60 Russian diplomats identified as intelligence agents and also announced the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle. It represents the most forceful action Trump has taken against Russia to date. Of those being expelled, 48 of the alleged intelligence agents work at the Russian embassy in Washington and 12 are posted at the United Nations in New York, senior administration officials said.


Congress Calls for Hearing with Facebook, Twitter and Google

By: Denise Simon | Founders Code

While Cambridge Analytica has a proven shady history as noted below, Facebook has already admitted guilt and offered apologies when it comes to safeguarding private user information and interactions. So, when it comes to social media Facebook, Google and Twitter hold the power. Instagram and SnapChat are quite popular but do not hold the volume of data in comparison.

Now the FTC comes knocking at the door of Facebook.


The stuff you share and the inferences Facebook makes about you are packaged together with similar people’s data, stripped of names and sold to companies. That allows businesses to put ads in front of people they’re certain they can influence.

On Facebook, you are the product. Advertisers are the customer.

Facebook’s not alone. Most advertiser-supported networks sell some of your information to third parties. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, Amazon, Twitter and Yelp do the same.

Giving up our privacy is the price we pay for getting to use Facebook for free. Most of the time, that tradeoff works: People take advantage of free services by posting, searching and sharing. Most companies that collect our data use it for legitimate purposes and within the bounds that companies like Facebook permit.

That arrangement has turned Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL) into online advertising juggernauts. They have built massive audiences of billions of customers, and advertisers flock to them. Facebook and Google control three-quarters of the $83 billion digital advertising market in the United States, according to eMarketer.

But the customer-is-the-product deal doesn’t always work to the user’s advantage. This weekend, the public learned data company Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed 50 million Facebook users’ personal information to influence the 2016 election.

Internet companies have a financial disincentive to give users more control over their data. If people share less, social networks will earn less money. More here.

In part from Bloomberg:

Fake News

Bell Pottinger’s tactics included producing phony television news reports as well as fake terrorist propaganda videos containing computer code that allowed Western intelligence agencies to track anyone who watched, according to a 2016 report from the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a not-for-profit reporting organization.

The man who awarded Turnbull’s Bell Pottinger unit its first Iraq contract was Ian Tunnicliffe, then a British colonel who was running strategic communications for the U.K. defense ministry. Tunnicliffe, now retired, has been a member of SCL’s advisory board. He didn’t respond to emails seeking comment.

SCL also stoked ethnic tensions in Eastern Europe and sprayed fake graffiti in the Caribbean, according to the firm’s own sales documents. Its defense business claims in pitch documents to have worked for clients as wide-ranging as the Libyan National Transitional Council, NATO and the U.K. Foreign Office. It says it worked in Pakistan for the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Pacific Command in India on countering radicalization.

SCL recently signed a contract with the U.S. State Department for market research and public-opinion polling, according to a federal procurement database. The one-year contract, signed last week, is worth $496,232, according to the database.

Deep Ties

The firm also has deep ties to the British defense establishment and Conservative Party. Its first chairman was Geoffrey Pattie, a defense minister under Margaret Thatcher. In addition to Tunnicliffe, the advisory board has included retired Rear Admiral John Tolhurst and Ivar Mountbatten, the great-nephew of Louis Mountbatten, the military hero and Queen Elizabeth’s cousin. Jonathan Marland, a former Conservative Party treasurer who served as a minister for business under former Prime Minister David Cameron, is a shareholder.

Marland told the Guardian newspaper he hadn’t had a role in running SCL following his initial investment and had refused requests to introduce the firm to Conservative Party officials.

Roger Gabb, a former British Army officer who later made his fortune as a wine distributor and wholesaler, is also a major SCL shareholder. A founding director who, with his family, still controls about 25 percent of the firm’s shares, Gabb has also been active in the Conservative Party and the campaign for the U.K. to leave the European Union. He donated 500,000 pounds ($705,300) to the party in 2006. In 2016, he was fined 1,000 pounds by the U.K.’s Electoral Commission for failing to disclose that he had helped purchase local newspaper advertisements supporting the leave side in the Brexit referendum. More here.


A Haunting Movie

By: Thomas Wigand | New Zeal

Just over a week ago, by happenstance, I selected a movie called “Ride the Thunder” to watch via streaming. Its description said that it was based on a book of the same title, describing actual events from the Vietnam conflict, and so my interest was piqued.  After watching it, I emailed a bunch of friends and acquaintances, recommending that they see it (still do), and stated the following:

Particularly moving (and infuriating) for me was the clever interspersing of period TV interviews with Jane Fonda and John Kerry (e.g., David Frost show; Dick Cavett show). The scenes of the post-1975 Communist reeducation camps in (what was) South Vietnam brought to mind Larry Grathwohl’s description of what Bill Ayers and his Progressive colleagues had (and still have?) in mind for us: Larry Grathwohl on the Weather Underground.

That thought has haunted me since, for reasons I’ll explain. The media of that period constructed a “conventional wisdom,” a narrative that became generally accepted, that our troops in Vietnam were baby killers, and our cause there unjust. And that we were losing, would ultimately lose, and so were just wasting our young people in a futile cause. I was in junior high school and high school during this period, and remember it well. And, I confess, in those tender years of trusting naiveté, before we recognized the bias of the media, that I was largely accepting as true what Walter Cronkite was telling me.

John Kerry: A Progressive Hero. An American Traitor.

John Kerry and his “Vietnam Veterans Against the War” (VVAW) cronies provided useful propaganda both for the U.S. media and Communist media. The “mainstream” portrayed him in heroic light, even as it increasingly portrayed Vietnam veterans as crazed killers of innocent civilians, returning home as dangerous head-cases. Kerry was complicit in such portrayals; he was one of the transmission mechanisms. It is pondering this that has come the haunting sense I’ve had since viewing “Ride the Thunder.”

John Kerry rode his VVAW coming out party right into Democrat Party politics. In true Alinsky “Rules for Radicals”  fashion, he put on a tie and burrowed-into the system, pretending to be a mainstream politician. Of course the Democrat Party welcomed and then nurtured him. He rose to become a United States Senator. In 2004, he was that party’s Presidential nominee. And but for the Swift Boat veterans – and their sweet revenge? – Kerry might have made it. The damage to this country would have been incalculable, as later events confirm.

Four years later a rabidly anti-American radical – B. Hussein Obama – was successful in hoodwinking a sufficient number of the American electorate to become President. We had no equivalent to the Swift Boat veterans to blow the whistle during the campaign, in this case regarding Obama’s radical Leftist associations and background, and to explain what a “community organizer” really was. Those voices that did attempt to raise the alarm were met by willful indifference – a conspiracy of silence – by the Obama collaborating “mainstream media.”

Once in office Obama recycled Kerry, naming him Secretary of State. In that office, both collaborated to engineer what I believe will ultimately be proven to be one of the greatest, and perhaps most consequential acts of treason in this country’s history – the “Iran nuclear deal.”

Pondering Kerry’s history, and reflecting upon his television appearances shown in “Ride the Thunder”, the haunting realization occurred to me that the media – news and entertainment – is at work with a casting-call for future Progressive leaders who will advance the anti-American agenda – and that when we cede that media ground, we enable that recruitment and promotion. A patriotic counter-culture, had there been one during the early 1970’s, may have been successful in accurately portraying John Kerry, and flaming-out his career. Just imagine the harm that this country would have been spared? That is why we need to nurture and support the growing Conservative counter-culture of web sites (e.g., this site, Breitbart and others), streaming television (e.g., Mark Levin’s CRTV), movies such as “Ride the Thunder”  and documentaries such as “The Enemies Within.” Our support today may well provide blessings over future decades, immense in scale and scope.

In that same email that I mentioned above, I also stated:

More so, the movie triggered a memory of a reference to “freedom man” from one of the audios in “Reagan In His Own Voice”  (highly recommended) in which he spoke of the “boat people” — listening to “freedom man” some years ago my eyes dampened-up with pride about being an American, and gratitude for having been born here, which is why I recalled it.  I just went back and found what I was thinking of — it was from his 1989 farewell address — it’s more powerful if you listen to it, but here’s the text of what came to mind:

“I’ve been thinking a bit at that window. I’ve been reflecting on what the past 8 years have meant and mean. And the image that comes to mind like a refrain is a nautical one—a small story about a big ship, and a refugee, and a sailor. It was back in the early eighties, at the height of the boat people. And the sailor was hard at work on the carrier Midway, which was patrolling the South China Sea. The sailor, like most American servicemen, was young, smart, and fiercely observant. The crew spied on the horizon a leaky little boat. And crammed inside were refugees from Indochina hoping to get to America. The Midway sent a small launch to bring them to the ship and safety. As the refugees made their way through the choppy seas, one spied the sailor on deck, and stood up, and called out to him. He yelled, ‘Hello, American sailor. Hello, freedom man.’  A small moment with a big meaning, a moment the sailor, who wrote it in a letter, couldn’t get out of his mind. And, when I saw it, neither could I. Because that’s what it was to be an American in the 1980’s. We stood, again, for freedom. I know we always have, but in the past few years the world again—and in a way, we ourselves—rediscovered it”. — President Ronald Reagan

People scaling the Berlin Wall. People on rafts from Castro’s Cuba. “Boat people” seeking escape from the Vietnam that people like John Kerry worked to bring to power. For such people, tens of millions across the globe, our American military did indeed represent “freedom man” – for they were, and still are, defending the land of freedom, the ultimate beacon of hope for the world. People therefore assume that we are safe, and would never live under a regime like the ones people die trying to escape — yet discount the fact that we have powerful and organized “enemies within” that have been, and still are zealously seeking to impose such a form of government upon us.  Let us not let a Progressive media narrative sway us from that reality, nor ever again tempt us to elect (or appoint) their moles into high office.

Mr. Wigand is the author of Communiqués From the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracywhich is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle versions.  Comments or questions for Mr. Wigand may be sent to: [email protected]— he will make every effort to personally respond to every email.


Introducing A New Theme

By: Kent Engelke | Capitol Securities

Many times I have commented about the tectonic changes occurring geopolitically and macro economically. These changes are being brought about by the electorate that is rejecting the multipolarity and interdependency of the global economy that has created great wealth inequality.

I would now like to suggest a new theme… the end of the era of unaccountability of mega-sized technology firms. In my view, the normal standards were suspended for them. They were regarded as “cool,” “disrupters,” “fun,” “freewheeling” and society/government were hyper-tolerant of the companies’ business practices. If mere mortal firms acted in such a way, these firms would be sued into oblivion.

In my view, this “soft image” gave them a worldwide license to evade taxes, break laws, abuse customer trust and exploit workers.

It appears “their” world has instantly changed. The EU is considering a 3% tax on Internet revenues, a tax that has been discussed for at least two years in an attempt to generate more revenue for the grossly indebted Union. The uproar over Facebook with even the most progressive media outlets commenting that this is not the first occurrence and such is wrong. The sexual harassment stories of Uber are widely documented as is the exploitation of Apple’s Chinese workers.

As stated, the above is nothing new, but the response is new.The proverbial sand pile is perhaps toppling.

Some might suggest that I am on a social rant. I am not. The market imbalances are widely documented, imbalances the result of technology based momentum trading that has vastly favored the mega-sized technology firms whose sociopolitical environment may have changed tectonically.

Commenting about Friday’s activity, equities were again volatile falling to early February levels. The Dow ended down about 1.75%. The NASDAQ was off 2.4%. Some are blaming trade. Others politics. While others, potential inflation concerns and monetary policy. I think all three amplified by technology based trading. For the week, all major indices suffered their biggest losses since January 2016.

Bloomberg writes the NASDAQ 100 fell about 7.3% for the week, the Dow 5.3% and the S & P 500 was off 6.0%. The small caps as per Bloomberg only fell about 3.8%, the result of the reliance on domestic sales. I will also add from the lack of ownership,

Oil again rallied posting its largest weekly gain since July closing around 3-year highs. Some are beginning to suggest a geopolitical premium is now emerging. I share this view, however, the premium in view is small historically.

This week the economic calendar is comprised of a final revision of 1Q GDP, trade data, personal income and spending, home sales data and a sentiment survey. Will the data impact trading?

Last night the foreign markets were up. London was up 0.49%, Paris was up 0.43% and Frankfurt was up 0.67%. China was down 0.60%, Japan was up 0.72% and Hang Sang was up 0.79%.

The Dow should open considerably higher as fears of escalating trade tensions are beginning to ease. Weekend comments from the Administration were “cautiously hopeful” that China will reach a deal to avoid tariffs. A deal was struck with South Korea. The 10-year is off 7/32 to yield 2.85% ahead of major debt sales.