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Hillarygate

Congress Demands Answers on FBI

December 15th 2017

Capitol Hill

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a letter to the Department of Justice demanding explanations from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein about a number of text messages sent between FBI investigator Peter Strzok and his FBI-Attorney and girlfriend Lisa Page in 2016. The two made numerous disparaging remarks about then-candidate Donald Trump, while both of them were central characters in the FBI’s abortive investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her time as Barack Obama’s secretary of state, and in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of the Trump/Russia narrative. 

Read more ..

Israel on Edge

Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's Capital

December 7th 2017

Israeli flag and clouds

Speaking at the White House on Wednesday, President Donald Trump said that the United States will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the modern state of Israel. He said that he is directing the State Department to begin preparations to build a new embassy in Jerusalem. Trump said that he came to office with open eyes with regard to the perennial peace process in the Middle East. “We cannot come into office making the same failed assumptions as in the past,” he said. Trump added, “My announcement marks a new approach.”

Referring to the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which was reaffirmed by a vote in the Senate this year, Trump said that his predecessors used waivers to prevent the move of the U.S. diplomatic mission from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Saying that previous presidents may have lacked sufficient courage, Trump said, “After two decades of waivers, we are no closer” to a peace deal and called it “folly to assume” doing the same thing will improve matters. Read more ..


Saudi Arabia and Iran

Saudi Crown Prince Calls Iran Leader "The New Hitler"

November 24th 2017

Saudi princes

Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince called the Supreme Leader of Iran "the new Hitler of the Middle East" in an interview with the New York Times published on Thursday, sharply escalating the war of words between the arch-rivals.

The Sunni Muslim kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran back rival sides in wars and political crises throughout the region.

Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Saudi defense minister in the U.S.-allied oil giant kingdom, suggested the Islamic Republic's alleged expansion under Ayatollah Ali Khamenei needed to be confronted.

"But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn't work. We don't want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East," the paper quoted him as saying. Tensions soared this month when Lebanon's Saudi-allied Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned in a television broadcast from Riyadh, citing the influence of Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon and risks to his life. Read more ..


Israeli and Palestinians

Palestinians Slam U.S. Plan To Close PLO Office In Peace Negotiation Ploy

November 19th 2017

Abbas UN

Palestinian officials expressed surprise on Saturday at a U.S. decision to close the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington unless the group enters peace negotiations with Israel, and said they would not surrender to blackmail.

A U.S. State Department official said that under legislation passed by Congress, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could not renew a certification that expired this month for the PLO office, “given certain statements made by the Palestinian leaders about the International Criminal Court.”

The law says the PLO, the main Palestinian umbrella political body, cannot operate a Washington office if it urges the ICC to prosecute Israelis for alleged crimes against Palestinians.

In an address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on the ICC “to open an investigation and to prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people.”

The State Department official added that restrictions on the PLO in the United States, including the operation of its Washington office, could be waived after 90 days if President Trump “determines the Palestinians have entered into direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said that Palestinian leaders would not give in to blackmail or pressure regarding the operation of the PLO office or negotiations on an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

“We remain focused on a comprehensive peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians that will resolve core issues between the parties,” the State Department official said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Saturday: “This is a matter of U.S. law. We respect the decision and look forward to continuing to work with the U.S. to advance peace and security in the region.”

Read more: http://forward.com/fast-forward/387921/palestinians-slam-us-plan-to-close-plo-office-in-peace-negotiation-ploy/

Palestinian officials expressed surprise on Saturday at a U.S. decision to close the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington unless the group enters peace negotiations with Israel, and said they would not surrender to blackmail.

A U.S. State Department official said that under legislation passed by Congress, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could not renew a certification that expired this month for the PLO office, “given certain statements made by the Palestinian leaders about the International Criminal Court.”

The law says the PLO, the main Palestinian umbrella political body, cannot operate a Washington office if it urges the ICC to prosecute Israelis for alleged crimes against Palestinians.

In an address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on the ICC “to open an investigation and to prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people.”

The State Department official added that restrictions on the PLO in the United States, including the operation of its Washington office, could be waived after 90 days if President Trump “determines the Palestinians have entered into direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said that Palestinian leaders would not give in to blackmail or pressure regarding the operation of the PLO office or negotiations on an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

“We remain focused on a comprehensive peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians that will resolve core issues between the parties,” the State Department official said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement on Saturday: “This is a matter of U.S. law. We respect the decision and look forward to continuing to work with the U.S. to advance peace and security in the region.”

Read more: http://forward.com/fast-forward/387921/palestinians-slam-us-plan-to-close-plo-office-in-peace-negotiation-ploy/

Palestinian officials expressed surprise on Saturday at a U.S. decision to close the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington unless the group enters peace negotiations with Israel, and said they would not surrender to blackmail. A U.S. State Department official said that under legislation passed by Congress, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson could not renew a certification that expired this month for the PLO office, “given certain statements made by the Palestinian leaders about the International Criminal Court.”

The law says the PLO, the main Palestinian umbrella political body, cannot operate a Washington office if it urges the ICC to prosecute Israelis for alleged crimes against Palestinians. In an address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called on the ICC “to open an investigation and to prosecute Israeli officials for their involvement in settlement activities and aggressions against our people.” Read more ..


Israel and Saudi Arabia

Israel Welcomes Saudi Mufti's Pro-Israel Remarks, Invites Visit

November 15th 2017

Saudi Royal Burial

An Israeli minister on Monday welcomed remarks by a mufti of Saudi Arabia that Palestinian resistance group Hamas is a terror organization.

"We congratulate Abdul Aziz Al-Sheikh, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, as well as the head of Ulema (Islamic scholars) for his fatwa forbidding the fight against the Jews and forbidding to kill them," Israeli Communications Minister Ayoub Kara wrote on his official Twitter account.

The minister also welcomed the mufti's remarks in which he considered Hamas a terror organization, adding "I invite the mufti to visit Israel; he will be welcomed with a high level of respect."

Earlier, the mufti said while answering a question on a television program that fighting against Israel was inappropriate and said Hamas was a "terror organization" in reply to a question regarding July's anger across the Israeli-occupied West Bank when Israel shut Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is venerated by Muslims and Jews, following a deadly shootout. Read more ..


After the Vote

Sessions Reveals He May Investigate Hillary Clinton

November 14th 2017

Hillary Clinton

In a response to members of Congress, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has directed senior federal prosecutors to evaluate "certain issues" involving Hillary Clinton’s tenure as Barack Obama’s secretary of state. The missive to House Judicary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) leaves the door open to the appointing of a special counsel in the matter of the Obama administration’s approval of Uranium One and allegations of illegal transactions involving the Clinton Foundation.

The Department of Justice responded to requests sent on July 27 and September 26 from Goodlatte, and other committee members, which called for the appointment of a special counsel. Attorney General Sessions will testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, and it is expected that he will face sharp questioning from both Democrats and Republicans. Republican congressman are expected to ask Sessions why he has apparentlly not investigated former FBI Director James Comey, nor Uranium One or the other issues involving Hillary Clinton. Read more ..


The Iranian Threat

Iran Building Permanent Military Base in Syria

November 13th 2017

Iranian Revolutionary Guard

Iran is establishing a permanent military base inside Syria, a Western intelligence source has told the BBC.

The Iranian military is said to have established a compound at a site used by the Syrian army outside El-Kiswah, 14 km (8 miles) south of Damascus.

The report comes amid growing tensions over Iranian influence in Syria and across the region.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu recently warned that Iran wanted to establish itself militarily in Syria.

"Israel will not let that happen," he said.

Satellite images commissioned by the BBC seem to show construction activity at the site referenced by the intelligence source between January and October this year. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Forces Oust ISIS from Last Border Stronghold

November 10th 2017

Syrian Rebel w/SAW

Syrian government forces said Thursday they have recaptured the Islamic State’s former border stronghold of Bukamal, shrinking the group’s remaining territory and leaving the militants with only a few enclaves.

The move into Bukamal, also called Abu Kamal, in eastern Syria choked off a key route for the Islamic State across the border with Iraq. The Syrian state news agency said Wednesday that pro-government forces had linked up with Iraqi troops to clear what remained of the “collapsed” militant group in the area.

The Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate, announced three years ago, once stretched across Syria and Iraq to occupy an area the size of Belgium. Now, after a series of defeats, the militants have been penned into a string of Syrian towns and villages along the Euphrates River. Read more ..


After the Vote

Democrats Disgraced for Preparing Uncorroborated Dossier Linking him to Russia

October 26th 2017

File Folders

Speaking to reporters outside the White House on Wednesday, President Donald Trump said it is "sad" to hear about the revelations that the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign produced an uncorroborated, salacious dossier about him in advance of the 2016 election. He said it is a "disgrace" and an embarrassment for Democrats, adding that it is a "sad commentary on politics in this country." Referring to the approval of the sale of an American uranium company to Russian interests by the Obama administration is the "modern-age" equivalent of the Watergate scandal. “It’s very sad what they’ve done with this fake dossier,” Trump said. “The Democrats always denied it. Hillary Clinton always denied it. I think it’s a disgrace. It’s a very sad commentary on politics in this country.”

ABC News adds:

On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that Marc E. Elias, a lawyer who represented both the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained the Washington-based investigative firm Fusion GPS to conduct research. Read more ..


After the Vote

Judicial Watch Says State Department Sits on a 'Motherlode' of Clinton Documents

October 24th 2017

Paper Stack

In a bombshell announcement, Judicial Watch announced that the State Department has not even searched the majority of Hillary Clinton emails that it obtained from the FBI during the criminal investigation into Clinton’s conduct as Secretary of State. In a statement on Monday, the transparency advocacy group declared that the State Department told a federal court that it has yet to process 40,000 of 72,000 pages of Clinton records that the FBI recovered last year. The revelation came during a federal court hearing in Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit seeking the former top diplomat’s emails that were sent or received during her tenure from February 2009 to January 31, 2013 (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:15-cv-00687)). 
 
The hearing before Judge James E. Boasberg, focused on the State Department’s processing of the tens of thousands of emails Clinton failed to disclose when she served as Secretary of State under Barack Obama. Some were sent by her top aide, Huma Abedin, and found by investigators on the laptop of her estranged husband Anthony Weiner. Thus far, the State Department has processed 32,000 pages of emails and released a small number. However, another 40,000 pages remain to be processed. Read more ..

After the Election

Trump Dossier Firm Refuses to Speak to Congress

October 17th 2017

File Folders

In a letter to the House Intelligence Committee on Monday, an opposition research firm behind an infamous dossier about then-candidate Donald Trump said it refuses to comply with subpoenas for testimony and documents that were issued earlier this month by the committee. Compiled by a former British intelligence operative for opposition research firm Fusion GPS, it discusses supposed Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The unproven dossier has been embraced by progressives to appoint an independent commission to investigate President Donald Trump’s ties with Russian officials. President Trump has denounced the dossier as "fake news" and "phony."

According to the testimony in July of William Browder to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and other reports, Fusion GPS was hired by Russians to defend Russian government officials from allegations of fraud. Fusion GPS was also employed by Russians to fight against the Magnitsky Act and has worked on issues with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, whose meeting with Donald Trump Jr. during the campaign has also come under scrutiny. Fusion GPS has ties to the Democratic party and Democrats, and was retained by Planned Parenthood.  Read more ..


After the Election

FBI Finds New Documents on Clinton-Lynch Tarmac Meeting

October 14th 2017

Hilary Clinton

According to Judicial Watch, a Washington DC-based transparency advocate, the FBI has found 30 pages of documents concerning the June 27, 2016 meeting conducted by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton on the tarmac at the Phoenix airport. When the meeting was first revealed, during the midst of the 2016 presidential race, Lynch claimed that they discussed their respective grandchildren and other matters not related to an FBI investigation into whether Hillary Clinton had revealed classified information when using a non-secure email server while working as Barack Obama’s secretary of state.

Last October, the FBI claimed that it did not have any records related to the tarmac meeting. However, the Justice Department revealed in response to a separate lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch that some of its officials had been in contact with FBI officials about the Clinton-Lynch encounter. In August, DOJ released emails showing that officials exchanged emails with the FBI about the tarmac meeting. In a July 1, 2016, email, Caroline Pokomy of DOJ told her colleagues that the “FBI is asking for guidance” arising from the controversy that ensued over the Clinton-Lynch meeting. 

Once those documents were released, the FBI then acknowledged that it did have some records related to the meeting. The FBI told Judicial Watch that, “Upon further review, we subsequently determined potentially responsive documents may exist.” While a statement from Judicial Watch calls the FBI’s new disclosure “stunning,” it is not clear what those documents contain. In a statement, Judicial Watch said, “The FBI is out of control.” Fitton said, “It is stunning that the FBI ‘found’ these Clinton-Lynch tarmac records only after we caught the agency hiding them in another lawsuit.” Read more ..


UN On Edge

US Quits UNESCO

October 12th 2017

UNESCO

The Trump administration announced on Thursday that it would withdraw from Unesco, the United Nations cultural organization, after years of America distancing itself because of what it called the group’s “anti-Israel bias.”

“This decision was not taken lightly,” according to a State Department statement on Thursday. In addition to anti-Israel bias, the department cited “the need for fundamental reform” and “mounting arrears” at the organization.

While the United States withdrew from the group, the Trump administration said it wanted to continue providing American perspective and expertise to Unesco, but as a nonmember observer. The withdrawal goes into effect at the end of 2018. Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization popularly known for its designation of world heritage sites, is a global development agency with missions that include promoting sex education, literacy, clean water and equality for women.

Read more ..

The Trump Era

Lawsuit Filed Against Justice Dep’t Demands Mueller’s Special Counsel Records

October 10th 2017

Scales of Justice

On Oct. 5, 2017, attorneys with a top “Inside the Beltway” government watchdog group official declared their organization’s latest legal action against the U.S. Department of Justice. While acknowledging the marked differences between the ultra-politicized Obama Justice Department and that of President Donald Trump, many law enforcement and intelligence officers believe that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is conducting an inadequate number of corruption investigations while tepidly pursuing cases of suspected criminal conduct of Democratic Party officeholders and their staffs.

However, last week, the prolific and effective legal group, Judicial Watch, announced it had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) concerning the budget and administrative records of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the still evidence-deficient Putin-Trump collusion against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Iran Warns U.S. Against Imposing Further Sanctions

October 9th 2017

Iranian Revolutionary Guard

Iran warned the United States against designating its Revolutionary Guards Corp as a terrorist group and said U.S. regional military bases would be at risk if further sanctions were passed.

The warning came after the White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump would announce new U.S. responses to Iran’s missile tests, support for “terrorism” and cyber operations as part of his new Iran strategy.

“As we’ve announced in the past, if America’s new law for sanctions is passed, this country will have to move their regional bases outside the 2,000 km range of Iran’s missiles,” Guards’ commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said, according to state media.

Jafari also said that additional sanctions would end the chances for future dialogue with the United States, according to state media, and issued a stark warning to American troops. Read more ..


The Trump Era

In Surprise Announcement, Shea-Porter Says She won’t Seek Re-election in 2018

October 6th 2017

Capitol Building at night

In a surprise announcement Friday, U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter said she will not seek re-election to the 1st District U.S. House seat in 2018.

The four-term Rochester Democrat was elected to the 1st District seat in 2006 and was re-elected in 2008. She lost to former Rep. Frank Guinta in 2010 but then defeated Guinta in 2012. Shea-Porter again lost to Guina in 2014, but then defeated him last year. In a statement, she attributed her decision to the “tug of family.” Shea-Porter, a staunch progressive, released the following statement.

“To the Good People of New Hampshire, the Greatest State in America,

"Thank you so much for electing me to Congress for four terms. You gave me the great honor of representing our state and being the first woman ever to be elected to federal office from New Hampshire, and the first Democrat to represent New Hampshire’s First District in 22 years, and I have worked each day with only one thought—to serve our state and our nation. But the time has come in my life to pause and decide on a different path, so I am announcing my intention to leave the House of Representatives in January 2019, when my present term ends. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Las Vegas Mass Shooting-- 50 Dead

October 2nd 2017

FBI sting

America is reeling from the worst mass shooting in its history after at least 50 people were killed and more than 200 wounded at a country music festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

Police say the shooter was 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, described as a local man, who opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas Village from a room across the street in the Mandalay Bay Hotel shortly after 10pm.

Officers say Paddock was shot and killed after they breached a room in the hotel, where he had stashed an 'arsenal' of weapons used during the massacre.

Investigators are now raiding the Mesquite home he shared with Marilou Danley, described as his 'companion', who was detained for questioning in the early hours of Monday morning.

Sheriff Joseph Lombardo, of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, said investigations are still ongoing and police have not yet determined a motive.  Read more ..


North Korea's Nukes

North Korea Moving Missiles, says South Korea

October 1st 2017

North Korean Missile

North Korea's military has been spotted moving missiles from a government rocket facility in Pyongyang to an undisclosed location amid reports the country may be gearing up for another missile test, according to a new report.

Reuters reported late on Friday that South Korea’s Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) spotted the weapons' movement late Friday, but didn't say where the missiles had been moved. According to the report, South Korean officials fear North Korea could attempt another missile test around Oct. 10, the anniversary of the founding of North Korea's ruling Communist Party.

The Trump administration said Saturday that it has about "three" open lines of communication with the hermit kingdom, despite no formal diplomatic ties.

“We ask, ‘Would you like to talk?’ We have lines of communications to Pyongyang — we’re not in a dark situation, a blackout. We have a couple, three channels open to Pyongyang,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, according to the New York Times.

Read more ..

Kurdistan Rising

After ISIS, 'Kurds Aren't Afraid of Anything'

September 27th 2017

PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) Fighter

High-rise buildings surrounded by parks and villas pierce the skyline. Hotels and luxury cars dot the landscape. It would be easy to mistake this place for a neighborhood in uber-rich Dubai, but in fact it is downtown Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Ahmad, a taxi driver, motions proudly to signs of his city's rapid development. He points out newly-built bridges and luxury housing projects and gestures to the tarmacked roads and wide pavements.
 
"Look at all this," says Ahmad, his eyes aglow in the rearview mirror. "People wonder why we want independence from Iraq, but all you need to do is look around you. We are light years ahead of Baghdad." For now, the Kurdish-governed northern Iraqi region remains an island of stability in war-weary Iraq. People in Irbil say this has come about despite the central government in Baghdad, not because of it.
Read more ..

Israelis and Palestinians

Egypt's Sisi Urges Palestinians to Unite, Co-Exist With Israelis

September 20th 2017

General Al-Sisi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged Palestinians to overcome their differences and be ready to co-exist with each other and with Israelis in safety and security.

"I tell the Palestinian people it's extremely important ... to overcome the differences and not to lose opportunities and to be ready to accept co-existence with the other, with Israelis in safety and security," Sisi told the annual U.N. General Assembly gathering of world leaders in New York.

Following Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Western-backed Fatah faction, Islamist Hamas said on Sunday it would dissolve its "administrative committee" to enable Abbas' administration to retake control in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas urged Abbas on Tuesday to respond by ending his sanctions on the impoverished enclave.

Read more ..

The Trump Era

US Government Wiretapped Former Trump Campaign Chairman

September 19th 2017

Smart phone

US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election, sources tell CNN, an extraordinary step involving a high-ranking campaign official now at the center of the Russia meddling probe.

The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.
 
Some of the intelligence collected includes communications that sparked concerns among investigators that Manafort had encouraged the Russians to help with the campaign, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. Two of these sources, however, cautioned that the evidence is not conclusive.
 
Special counsel Robert Mueller's team, which is leading the investigation into Russia's involvement in the election, has been provided details of these communications.
    A secret order authorized by the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) began after Manafort became the subject of an FBI investigation that began in 2014. It centered on work done by a group of Washington consulting firms for Ukraine's former ruling party, the sources told CNN.
    Read more ..

    The Edge of Terrorism

    London Terror Threat Goes Critical

    September 16th 2017

    London Police

    Armed police have flooded London's streets as the terror threat level was raised to critical amid fears the Parsons Green bomber could strike again, Theresa May announced tonight.

    The introduction of Operation Temperer will see soldiers replacing police at key sites including nuclear power plants to free up extra armed officers for regular patrols.

    Scotland Yard said it is making 'excellent' progress in hunting the suspected terrorist who set off a crude bucket bomb on a packed commuter train by Parsons Green tube station in west London at 8.20am.

    Mrs May said in a statement from Number 10: 'The Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre has now decided to raise the national threat level from severe to critical - this means their assessment is that a further attack may be imminent.' Minutes later Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley suggested there might have been more than one person involved, stating that police were 'chasing down suspects'. Read more ..


    Debbigate

    Congressman Franks: "Fasten Your Seatbelts" on Debbie Wasserman Schultz Laptop Revelations.

    September 8th 2017

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz

    Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) hinted broadly in an interview on Fox Business with host Lou Dobbs that there will soon be news about Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) and the prospect of dealmaking by federal prosecutors with Hina Alvi, a woman now in Pakistan who is wanted in questioning in federal bank fraud charges against husband Imran Awan.

    See Trent Franks

    Frank said on Wednesday, “I think you’re going to see some revelations that are pretty profound. And the fact that this wife is coming back from Pakistan and is willing to face charges, as it were, I think there’s a good chance that she’s going to receive some sort of immunity to tell a larger story that is going to be pretty disturbing to the American people.”

    For months media have speculated whether Wasserman Schultz and Awan (who was arrested at a Washington-area airport before flying to Pakistan, and is now indicted) may have colluded in concealing evidence possibly linked to the hack of the Democratic National Committee computer system in 2016. The hack revealed embarrassing emails that linked members of the media to personalities in Hillary Clinton’s political organization and the DNC.

    Read more ..

    The Trump Era

    Inside Trump's Head-Scratching Deal With "Chuck And Nancy"

    September 7th 2017

    Donald Trump Laconia NM Michael Vadon Jul 16 2015 03

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is perplexed, with no idea what President Trump thinks he was gaining.

    In fact, McConnell rather doubts the president has a strategy, a close source tells Axios.

    House Speaker Paul Ryan is furious, according to a person very close to him. Both felt blindsided by Trump's stunning decision yesterday to abruptly side with "Chuck and Nancy," as he chummily called the Democratic leaders, in a deal to avert a government shutdown Sept. 30 — at the price of reviving the politically painful issue right before the 2018 elections.

    Soak this in: It's now possible that Trump's biggest legislative wins this year will be more spending and raising the debt cap — the exact opposite of what Tea Party Republicans came to D.C. to do.

    Read more ..

    North Korea's Nukes

    South Korea’s Defense Minister Raises Possible Return of Tactical U.S. Nukes

    September 4th 2017

    South Korean marines

    South Korea’s defense minister on Monday said it was worth reviewing the redeployment of American tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula to guard against the North, a step that analysts warn would sharply increase the risk of an accidental conflict.

    But in New York, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was “begging for war.”

    And even as concern over Korea deepened following North Korea’s huge nuclear test Sunday,, South Korea’s defense ministry said Monday that Pyongyang might be preparing to launch another missile into the Pacific Ocean, perhaps an intercontinental ballistic missile theoretically capable of reaching the mainland United States. Read more ..


    After the Vote

    FBI Transcripts Reveal Comey Drafted Conclusions about Hillary Clinton before Questioning Witnesses

    September 1st 2017

    Hilary Clinton

    In a Thursday press conference, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that revelations that former FBI Director James B. Comey had decided not to charge Hillary Clinton months before terminating an agency investigation into her use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State vindicates  President Trump’s decision to fire him. Of the day’s reports, Sanders said, “If it is as accurate as they say it is, that would certainly give cause and reason that Jim Comey was not the right person to lead the FBI.”

    Trump fired Comey in May.

    On Thursday, Republicans Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina revealed that their investigation has discovered that Comey may have been drafting a statement to exonerate Clinton in April or May 2016, months before the FBI probe came to an end and before investigators interviewed Clinton and witnesses. “Conclusion first, fact-gathering second—that’s no way to run an investigation,” Judiciary Committee members Graham and Grassley wrote. “The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy.”

    It was after having reviewed transcripts of interviews of Comey’s aides that they learned of the former FBI Director’s draft "exoneration statement."  In their letter, the senators wrote: “According to the unredacted portions of the transcripts, it appears that in April or early May of 2016, Mr. Comey had already decided he would issue a statement exonerating Secretary Clinton,” the senators said.

    Read more ..

    North Korea's Nukes

    Trump on North Korea Newest Missile Launch: 'All options are on the table'

    August 29th 2017

    NK Military Parade Apr 2012

    President Trump said Tuesday that "all options are on the table" after North Korea launched a missile over Japan, an act that instantly renewed tensions in the region just days after the regime appeared to be backing down from threats against the U.S. and its allies. 

    "The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear: this regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior," Trump said, in a written statement released by the White House. 

    "Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table," the statement continued. 

    In a first, North Korea on Tuesday fired a midrange ballistic missile designed to carry a nuclear payload that flew over U.S. ally Japan and splashed into the northern Pacific Ocean.   Read more ..


    Debbigate

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz Defends Decision to keep Staffer Charged with Bank Fraud

    August 23rd 2017

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz

    Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., defended her decision to keep IT staffer Imran Awan on government payroll after she discovered he was under investigation for bank fraud.

    Awan and his wife, Hina Alvi, were indicted last week by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia with a total of four charges.

    "He's not my staffer. He no longer works for me. And when he was arrested, I terminated him," Wasserman Schultz said during a briefing Tuesday according to the Sun-Sentinel. "I kept him on the payroll during the time that he was not arrested and not charged with anything. And that was because, as I said, that I was concerned about the violation of his due process rights and also that there were racial and ethnic profiling concerns as well."

    Wasserman Schultz said she didn't know Awan was attempting to send money to Pakistan. Read more ..


    North Korea's Nukes

    North Korea Says It Won't Fire Missiles At Guam, After All

    August 15th 2017

    North Korean rocket Apr 2012

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reviewed his military's plans to rain "an enveloping fire" around the U.S. territory of Guam — but opted not to fire missiles at this time, according to state media. Despite the stand-down, some Guamanians were alarmed after two radio stations aired an erroneous emergency alert Tuesday.

    Kim visited the Korean People's Army as the self-imposed mid-August deadline for a missile demonstration approached, the Korean Central News Agency reports. But after hearing the plan and considering it, Kim opted not to give the order to launch missiles, but instead "would watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees," the report says. Kim also warned that the U.S. should not test North Korea's self-restraint. Read more ..


    North Korea's Nules

    North Korea's Guam Missile Strike Ready This Week

    August 13th 2017

    Un-review troops

    North Korea says a plan that could see it fire four missiles near the US territory of Guam will be ready this week. State media said Hwasong-12 rockets would pass over Japan and land in the sea about 30km (17 miles) from Guam, if the plan was approved by Kim Jong-un.

    It denounced Donald Trump's warnings of "fire and fury" and said the US leader was "bereft of reason". The US has warned the North its actions could mean the "end of its regime". US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Pyongyang would be "grossly overmatched" in any war against the US and its allies. The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, who is in Guam, says there is a sense that the North Korean threat is rhetorical, as most people feel that if they really did strike with missiles it would be suicidal for the North Korean regime. Read more ..


    The Trump Era

    Los Angeles Council Wants Companies To Disclose Work On Trump's Border Wall

    August 11th 2017

    US/Mex Border fence

    The city council of Los Angeles voted this week to draft legislation that would require all companies seeking to do business with the city must reveal whether they are working on the wall along the Mexican border. The law would require companies to reveal whether they are helping to build a wall along the Mexican border, arguing that Angelenos deserve to know.

    At a Tuesday meeting, the City Council voted to draft a law that would require companies seeking or doing business with the city to disclose contracts to help design, build, or provide supplies for “any proposed border wall between Mexico and the United States of America.”

    Democrat Gil Cedillo said, “We want to know if there are people who do business with the city of Los Angeles ... who wish to profit from building a wall that would divide us from our nearest and dearest neighbor Mexico.” Cedillo proposed the law. He told local media that President Trump’s proposed wall is not only “repugnant,” but also racist and xenophobic. Read more ..


    North Korea's Nukes

    North Korea Threatens Guam

    August 9th 2017

    NK Military Parade Apr 2012

    North Korea said it is 'carefully examining' a plan to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with missiles, just hours after President Donald Trump told the country that any threat to the U.S. would be met with 'fire and fury.' 

    A spokesman for the Korean People's Army, in a statement carried by the North's state-run KCNA news agency, said Wednesday the strike plan will be 'put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment' once leader Kim Jong Un makes a decision.

    Guam, which is roughly 2,128 miles from North Korea, is home to both Andersen Air Force Base and Naval Base Guam housing thousands of American service members and their families. 

    Roughly 28 percent of the island is occupied by the U.S. military. The base houses bomber assurance and deterrence missions, including six B-52s which the air force says provide 'strategic global strike capability [to] deter potential adversaries and provide reassurance to allies' and that they are ready to go. Read more ..


    Debbigate

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz Changes Story about Stolen Laptop

    August 6th 2017

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz

    Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) said in an August 3 interview with her hometown newspaper that a laptop computer -- which she closely drilled the chief of the Capitol Police earlier this year -- was not hers, but actually belonged to her former IT assistant Imran Awan. She also claimed that investigators are targeting Awan because of his race and religion. Awan is a Muslim from Pakistan who is a naturalized American citizen.

    During the exchange with Chief Matthew R. Verderosa in a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on May 18, Wasserman Schultz said during an annual police budget hearing, “If a Member loses equipment and it is found by your staff and identified as that member’s equipment and the member is not associated with any case, it is supposed to be returned. Yes or no?” Verderosa replied that the laptop is important to “an ongoing investigation,” but Wasserman Schultz pressed on regardless.

    Read more ..

    Financing the Flames

    Senate Panel Approves Bill to Cut Funds to Palestinians over Terrorism

    August 4th 2017

    One Million Dollars

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved legislation on Thursday that would restrict funding to the Palestinian Authority until it stops offering rewards to those who commit acts of violence against Israelis and others.

    Get Financing the Flames and read the original Edwin Black investigation on the topic

    The Taylor Force Act passed the committee in a 16-5 vote and now heads to the Senate floor. 

    The bill was introduced by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and is named after an American, 28-year-old Taylor Force, who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian last year in a Tel Aviv attack that also wounded 12 others.

    The Palestinian Authority regularly offers financial compensation to the families of terrorists. Critics have dubbed it “pay to slay” and say the Palestinian Authority spends as much as $300 million a year on the program.

    Read more ..

    Financing the Flames

    Senate Foreign Relations Committee Strengthens Taylor Force Act in Advance of Forthcoming Vote

    August 2nd 2017

    Sorrow-Pain

    Palestinian opposition to ending the policy of “martyr payments” could face a potentially insurmountable obstacle in the form of revised legislation governing American aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) that is expected to be voted on during the fall session of Congress.

    Get Financing the Flames and read the original Edwin Black investigation on the topic

    A revised version of the Taylor Force Act — amended by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in advance of a vote this Thursday — places even more stringent conditions on aid to the PA as long as it operates a policy dubbed by critics as “pay-to-slay.” Currently, the PA spends more than $300 million of foreign aid money per year on monthly salaries to terrorists and their families that far outstrip the wages paid to Palestinian professionals, including the PA’s own civil servants. Read more ..


    Debbie Gate

    Democrat Debbie Wasserman-Schultz Up to Her Neck in DNC Security Breaches

    July 30th 2017

    Debbie Wasserman Schultz

    Florida’s U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the controversial former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), had her office equipment seized by  U.S. Capitol Police as part of a criminal investigation into congressional network security violations. Wasserman-Schultz admitted she frequently violates the DNC’s information security policy but still managed to point her finger at someone else.

    The always boisterous congresswoman blamed the House of Representatives’ chief office manager for not stopping her from violating policies and perhaps the law regarding classified material.

    According to news media accounts, during an appropriations hearing on Congress’ administrative budget in May, Wasserman Shultz conceded she had violated the policies for many years. She also sought to find out how much might be known about her Internet usage, asked if members of Congress are monitored? Read more ..


    After the Election

    House Republicans Call for a Second Special Counsel to Investigate Clinton, Comey and Lynch

    July 28th 2017

    Hilary Clinton

    House Judiciary Committee Republicans on Thursday called for a new special counsel — to investigate Hillary Clinton, James Comey and Loretta Lynch. 

    In a letter addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the Republicans said they were writing to "request assistance in restoring public confidence in our nation's justice system and its investigators, specifically the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)."

    The lawmakers said they presumed investigation of potential Russian influence on the U.S. presidential election was covered by special counsel Robert Mueller, but that they "are not confident that other matters related to the 2016 election and aftermath are similarly under investigation" by the former FBI director.

    "The unbalanced, uncertain, and seemingly unlimited focus of the special counsel's investigation has led many of our constituents to see a dual standard of justice that benefits only the powerful and politically well-connected," the letter said. "For this reason, we call on you to appoint a second special counsel to investigate a plethora of matters connected to the 2016 election and its aftermath, including actions taken by previously public figures like Attorney General Loretta Lynch, FBI Director James Comey, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton."

    Last year, the Justice Department declined to charge Clinton or her associates for Clinton's handling of classified information while at the State Department. As a candidate, Trump threatened to appoint a special prosecutor to look into Clinton's actions.

    Comey had made a public announcement about the FBI's recommendation that the Justice Department not pursue charges against Clinton. He had said "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring a case against the former secretary of state for her handling of government emails. That conclusion was widely panned by Republicans.

    Read more ..

    Congress on Edge

    Wasserman Schultz Staffer Arrested Trying to Leave USA

    July 26th 2017

    Computers multiple

    A House IT aide working for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.), the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, was arrested this week on bank fraud charges while trying to leave the country.

    Fox News reported that Imran Awan was arrested Monday night at Dulles International Airport in Virginia about 30 miles outside Washington, D.C.

    Feds/USCP bust Hse IT staffer Imran Awan & charge him with multiple counts of bank fraud as part of Hse IT procurement scandal

    — Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram)

    Feds/USCP picked up Imran Awan at Dulles Aiport last night as he was "trying to leave the country." Has been arraigned. Surrendered passport

    — Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram)

    Awan, an IT staffer who has worked for many House Democrats and was employed by Wasserman Schultz, was allegedly at the center of a scheme that involved double-charging the House for IT equipment, and may also have exposed House information online, according to Fox. Read more ..


    The Edge of Justice

    Passover Punishment Case Appealed to US Supreme Court

    July 25th 2017

    Supreme Court Lady Justice

    Lewin & Lewin filed a Petition for a Writ of Certiorari today in the United States Supreme Court on behalf of Susan Abeles, an Orthodox Jewish woman who was punished by the Washington Metropolitan Airports Authority (“MWAA”) in 2013 for observing the last two days of Passover. Ms. Abeles followed MWAA procedures and received e-mailed approval from her supervisor to take annual leave to observe the holiday.  Nonetheless, when she returned to work, MWAA designated her absence as “AWOL” and suspended her for five days.  Read more ..


    Israel on Edge

    Report: Saudi King Secretly Contacted Israel on Temple Mount Crisis

    July 20th 2017

    Jerusalem-Temple and Wall

    On Tuesday, the London-based Arabic media outlet Elpah reported that the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud contacted Israel via the Americans in an effort to defuse the crisis following the terrorist murder of two Israelis on the Temple Mount. It was reportedly the Saudi king’s personal intervention via the White House that prompted Israel to reopen the Temple Mount to Muslim worshipers.

    While Israel reopened the site just two days after the attack, the Palestinian Authority and the Jordanian Waqf, an Islamic Trust that Israel entrusted to oversee Temple Mount activities, incited raucous protests in response to necessary security measures such as metal detectors.

    Read more ..


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