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The Pronk Pops Show 1265, May 28, 2019, Story 1: President Trump Trying To Stop Nuclear Arms Race and Nuclear Proliferation In Far East and Middle East — Videos — Story 2:  Japan to Buy 105 F-35 Fighters From United States —  Japan converting Izumo-class into full-fledged aircraft carriers capable of launching the F-35B (Short takeoffs and vertical landings (STOVL) variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ) — U.S./Japan Trade Deal By August with Japan Possible — Videos — Story 3: Trump Agrees With Chairman Kim — Biden Low IQ — Crowd Resistant Boring Biden Goes Into Hiding For Now — Joe Can Hide But Can He Win? No — Videos — Trump Agrees With Chairman Kim — Biden Low IQ — Crowd Resistant Boring Biden Goes Into Hiding For Now — Joe Can Hide But Can He Win? No — Videos — Story 4: Do Not Panic — Recession Warning or Economic Growth? — U.S. Steady Economic Growth Ahead — 3% Plus — Videos —

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Story 1: President Trump Trying To Stop Nuclear Arms Race and Proliferation In Far East and Middle East Linked To Trade Agreement with China –Videos —

Trump wants Iran to agree on no nuclear weapon and that is all, nice attitude

Donald Trump: We will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons

Trump Dismisses Concerns About North Korea Missile Launches

Trump dismisses North Korean tests of ‘some small weapons’

Donald Trump: We will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons

Trump-Kim summit: How did North Korea build the bomb? | Asian Century | Full episode

Untangling the U.S. – China Narrative: Technology, Trade, and Tensions

May 20, 2019 — In partnership with the Committee of 100, speakers from all sectors come together for a lively discussion about the current state of U.S.-China relations. Speakers included Andy Rothman from Matthews Asia and a member of the Asia Society Northern California Advisory Board; Victor Wang with CEG Ventures; Buck Gee, co-founding board member of the Chinese American Community Foundation and member of both C100 and the Asia Society Northern California Advisory Board; and Mark Cohen, director at the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology Asian IP Project. The discussion was moderated by Frank H. Wu, president of Committee of 100, and featured opening remarks by Kenneth P. Wilcox, chair of Asia Society Northern California Advisory Board. (1 hr., 24 mins)

 

Story 2:  Japan to Buy 105 F-35 Fighters From United States —  Japan converting Izumo-class into full-fledged aircraft carriers capable of launching the F-35B (Short takeoffs and vertical landings (STOVL) variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ) — U.S./Japan Trade Deal By August with Japan Possible — Videos

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Japan: Trump agrees with Kim Jong-un that Biden ‘probably’ has low IQ

Trump, Abe at odds over North Korean missile tests | FULL press conference

Abe, Trump Arrive at Japanese Naval Base

Trump inspects Japan’s largest warship as he concludes four-day visit

US President Donald Trump inspected Japan’s largest warship with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on May 28. According to the Japanese Defense Ministry, Mr Trump was the first US President to embark a Japanese destroyer.

 

Japan to buy 105 F-35 U.S. stealth warplanes: Trump

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Japan plans to buy 105 U.S.-made stealth warplanes, Donald Trump said on Monday, which the U.S. President said would give Tokyo the largest F35 fleet of any US ally.

Trump, in Tokyo for a state visit, said Japan “has just announced its intent to purchase 105 brand new F35 stealth aircraft. Stealth, because, the fact is you can’t see them.”

“This purchase would give Japan the largest F35 fleet of any U.S. ally,” added the president.

Trump appeared to be referencing a deal first announced by the F35’s manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, in December.

Japan’s government announced in its latest defense budget in December plans to buy 105 units of the F35A, which performs conventional take-off and landings.

Local media said at the time that the purchases could total more than one trillion yen ($9.1 billion).

The White House could not immediately comment on the timing of Trump’s comments about the deal Monday.

https://japantoday.com/category/politics/japan-to-buy-105-f-35-us-stealth-warplanes-trump

 

Trump Tours Japan’s Izumo-Class Carrier Hailing its Future F-35B Capability

Donald Trump today became the first U.S. president to board the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) largest flattop, the Izumo-class helicopter carrier JS Kaga, at the Yokosuka naval base south of Tokyo wrapping up the U.S. president’s four-day state visit to Japan.

Together with his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump toured Japan’s largest warship on May 28 to demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-Japan alliance and to “send a message to China,” according to a Japanese government source. Trump and Abe were accompanied by their wives during the inspection.

Abe and Trump addressed a group of about 500 U.S. and Japanese military personnel gathered in the hanger of the JS Kaga. “This is the first time the leaders of Japan and the United States have visited together to extend their encouragement to the SDF [Self Defense Force] and U.S. military,” Abe said. “The fact that we are both standing here today is evidence of the strength of the Japan-U.S. alliance.”

Abe also talked about the JMSDF flattop’s recent operational history. “The JS Kaga sailed through a vast area from the western Pacific through the Indian Ocean last year, to deepen the cooperation with navies of regional partners in close coordination with the U.S. Navy,” the prime minister said.

“Our mission is to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific, and to establish a foundation for regional peace and prosperity.” The JS Kaga’s sister ship, the JMSDF helicopter carrier JS Izumoconducted a number of naval exercises with allies and regional partners in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

Hailing the U.S.-Japanese alliance as “an incredible partnership,” the U.S. president in his speech on the carrier’s hangar deck noted that “this is the only port in the world where a U.S. Naval fleet and an Allied Naval fleet are working side by side with each other.”

Trump in his speech, also referenced the conversion of the Izumo-class into full-fledged aircraft carriers capable of launching the F-35B, the vertical or short takeoffs and vertical landings (STOVL) variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, as well as Japan’s decision to procure an extra 105 F-35s from the United States.

“Soon this very ship will be upgraded to carry this cutting-edge aircraft, Trump said. “With this extraordinary new equipment, the Kaga will help our nations defend against a range of complex threats in the region and far beyond.”

Notably, the U.S. president was expected to board the JS Kaga’s sister ship, the first-of-class JS Izumo during a state visit to Japan in October 2017. However, the visit did not take place.

Trump on May 28 also visited the nearby U.S. Yokosuka Naval Base, where he boarded the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Wasp. The USS Wasp is the size of a small aircraft carrier and can carry around 31 aircraft including the F-35B. In a speech in front of around 800 U.S. servicemen and women, whom the president called “daring and mighty warriors in the Pacific,” he emphasized the need for additional guided-missile destroyers,  submarines and F-35s.

Yokosuka is home to the headquarters of the JMSDF and also the home port of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, the largest of the U.S. Navy’s forward deployed fleets and consists of around 50-70 ships and submarines and around 20,000 sailors.

The president and the first lady of the United States, Melania Trump, were Japan’s first state guests in the new imperial era “Reiwa” following Emperor Naruhito’s ascension to the throne on May 1.

https://thediplomat.com/2019/05/trump-tours-japans-izumo-class-carrier-hailing-its-future-f-35b-capability/

Japan’s plan to remodel Izumo-class carriers: Needed upgrade or mere show of force?

BY REIJI YOSHIDA

STAFF WRITER

On April 30, the Izumo helicopter carrier — one of Japan’s two largest and arguably most controversial naval vessels — set off for a three-month deployment and this month it conducted two quadrilateral naval exercises over a two-week span — first in the South China Sea and then in the Indian Ocean.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump are scheduled to inspect the Kaga — the other vessel in the Izumo-class — in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture.

On top of that, “Aircraft Carrier Ibuki,” a military thriller based on a manga series of the same name featuring a fictitious, though strikingly similar vessel to the Izumo ships, hits theaters on Friday.

The helicopter carrier Izumo is docked at the Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March. | REIJI YOSHIDA
The helicopter carrier Izumo is docked at the Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March. | REIJI YOSHIDA

The rising profile of the 19,500-ton flat-topped helicopter carriers is perhaps a reflection of the increasing awareness of the ministry’s future plans for the vessels: Their conversion into de facto aircraft carriers with the apparent purpose of keeping China in check.

Last December, the Abe administration included plans to remodel its Izumo-class vessels so they can carry F-35B stealth fighters under the National Defense Guidelines and Medium-Term Defense Program.

Since their development nearly a decade ago, speculation had swirled among the defense community that the Izumo ships could eventually be upgraded to accommodate fixed-wing aircraft to effectively become aircraft carriers — a type of vessel that has long been taboo in Japan’s postwar defense posture.

But along with raising questions over whether the Izumo’s upgrade will remain within the confines of the country’s long-standing “exclusively defense-oriented policy,” there seems to be a lack of consensus about the exact role that’s being plotted for the upgraded ships, aside from countering China.

A response to China

It is widely believed the Izumo was developed in large part in response to China’s increasing maritime assertiveness, though the Defense Ministry hasn’t publicly admitted as much, likely due to diplomatic considerations.

But in an interview with The Japan Times last month, a senior Defense Ministry official bluntly laid out the goal for the Izumo upgrades.

The official pointed to a chart depicting where Chinese warships, submarines and military aircraft repeatedly advanced into the Western Pacific, crossing the waters between Okinawa and Miyako Island, in 2017 and 2018.

The 19,500-ton Izumo, seen in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March, cost around ¥120 billion to build and along with its sister ship, the Kaga, is the Self-Defense Forces' largest ship.
The 19,500-ton Izumo, seen in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March, cost around ¥120 billion to build and along with its sister ship, the Kaga, is the Self-Defense Forces’ largest ship. | REIJI YOSHIDA

China’s emerging military presence in the Western Pacific — with forces that now include the aircraft carrier Liaoning, which is capable of carrying J-15 fighters — is a key reason Japan plans to upgrade the Izumo-class ships to allow them to carry F-35B stealth fighters, the senior Defense Ministry official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“We won’t publicly name any country, but the fact is that the Chinese navy has frequently made incursions into the Pacific Ocean by passing through the Miyako Strait,” the official said. “They’ve become increasingly active (in the Pacific) over the past five years.”

The Miyako Strait is regarded as a critical “choke point” among military analysts that the Chinese Navy must pass through if it ever wants to advance into the Pacific from coastal areas and become a full-fledged “blue-water” navy capable of sustained operations in open water.

The Constitution controversy

The Izumo modification plan, however, immediately caused a stir and drew mixed reactions from politicians and former MSDF brass.

Opposition lawmakers criticized the plan, arguing it would exceed the scope of military power the country is entitled to under the war-renouncing Constitution.

During an Upper House budget committee session in early February, Japanese Communist Party lawmaker Satoshi Inoue cited the top law in his criticism of the plan: “If the Izumo carries fighter planes, it would allow Japan to be able to stage an overwhelming attack from anywhere on the sea, wouldn’t it?”

In response, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya argued that the upgraded Izumo-class vessels will not be designed for “the mass destruction of another country” and therefore they will be constitutional.

A U.S. F-35B stealth fighter flies above the USS Wasp in the Pacific Ocean in March 2018. | KYODO
A U.S. F-35B stealth fighter flies above the USS Wasp in the Pacific Ocean in March 2018. | KYODO

The Constitution has long been interpreted as banning Japan from owning any military power exceeding “the minimum required force” needed for self-defense. Since World War II, Japan has pledged not to own “offensive air carriers,” saying it would be beyond its exclusively defense-oriented posture.

But opponents of the plan argue the upgrade to the Izumo ships will allow the SDF to acquire offensive capabilities.

In the face of that criticism, the Defense Ministry refuses to refer to the to-be-revamped Izumo ships as aircraft carriers, instead saying they would each serve as a “multirole operation vessel.” The ministry insists they would not regularly carry fixed-wing fighters and would also be used for missions including anti-submarine and rescue operations.

Battle-ready or not?

Meanwhile, senior Defense Ministry officials and former MSDF officers are confused about the plan’s operational objectives.

A key question is whether upgraded Izumo-class vessels can actually be deployed for practical combat operations, or if the objective is to mainly showcase the country’s military presence.

That is because typically, an effective aircraft carrier fleet requires a rotation of more than three such vessels. “Usually you would need at least three vessels; one for actual deployment, one for training and one docked for maintenance,” a senior Defense Ministry official said.

Japan has no current plans to build more Izumo-class ships, which can cost as much as ¥120 billion each.

So if it has only one aircraft carrier on standby, the vessels would merely end up being ships to show off the “presence” of Japan’s naval force, the official said.

The Izumo is docked in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March. The ship, whose air-traffic control cabin is pictured here, currently serves as a helicopter carrier, but there are plans to remodel the vessel so it can accommodate F-35B stealth fighters.
The Izumo is docked in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March. The ship, whose air-traffic control cabin is pictured here, currently serves as a helicopter carrier, but there are plans to remodel the vessel so it can accommodate F-35B stealth fighters. | REIJI YOSHIDA

Japan would need at least four Izumo vessels if they were to be used as aircraft carriers in real naval combat operations, said Toshiyuki Ito, a retired MSDF vice admiral who is now a professor at Kanazawa Institute of Technology Toranomon Graduate School in Tokyo.

“If you only have two vessels, you can only use them for training personnel for taking off and landing operations,” Ito said. “So this plan doesn’t make sense for MSDF officers, frankly speaking.”

Ito also pointed out that MSDF officers would usually envision using an aircraft carrier of this class for fleet air defense. But a remodeled Izumo-class vessel is only capable of carrying about 10 F-35B fighters, which Ito says is too small a number to provide effective and adequate air defense for a naval fleet.

Because Japan would need more Izumo-class vessels and for those ships to be able to carry more fighter jets in order to be useful in combat operations, Ito concluded that the Izumo upgrade plan is not intended for actual naval combat, but merely to “send a message to China.”

“In 10 or 15 years, China will have four aircraft carriers and two of them could cruise around the Pacific Ocean right south of Japan, for example,” Ito said.

A political decision

Retired Vice Adm. Yoji Koda, former commander of a MSDF fleet, argued that the biggest problem regarding the Izumo’s upgrade is that the Defense Ministry made the decision without having military experts conduct sufficiently detailed naval combat simulations.

“A defense build-up program must be based on the assumption that those (weapons) can actually be used in an emergency situation,” Koda said. “Just showing off (a military presence) is not a legitimate way of thinking.”

In fact, in announcing the new National Defense Guidelines last December, Iwaya, the defense minister, admitted that the Izumo conversion plan was not based on requests or proposals from Self-Defense Forces leaders, but was adopted based on a top-down decision among high-ranking government officials.

“This way of thinking was not formed because of specific needs or requests from the MSDF or Air Self-Defense Force. We reached this conclusion after conducting studies from defense policy perspectives,” Iwaya told reporters.

Koda, like Ito, argued that Japan needs aircraft carriers capable of defending an MSDF fleet — but also noted that the government must be clear and transparent about the purpose of introducing such vessels if and when it intends to do so.

A helicopter sits inside the internal hangar of the Izumo at the Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March.
A helicopter sits inside the internal hangar of the Izumo at the Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in March.

And is Japan getting enough bang for its buck by upgrading the Izumo class? The cost not only includes the upgrading fees for the ships; it also involves procurement fees for the F-35Bs, as well as training dozens of ASDF fighter pilots to be able to fly the state-of-the-art stealth fighters.

In December, the government decided to procure 147 F-35 stealth fighters, 42 of which are now expected to be F-35Bs capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings.

The remaining 105 will be land-based F-35A jet fighters for the ASDF. Each F-35A fighter costs more than ¥10 billion, and the procurement plan for F-35As and F-35Bs is likely to exceed ¥1 trillion.

The MSDF has been suffering from a chronic personnel shortage due to its tough working conditions and long periods of deployment, Ito said. Recruitment is expected to become a bigger headache as the nation’s population continues to shrink. “What the MSDF really needs is more investment to build smaller ships that require fewer personnel (to operate),” Ito said.

“I had hoped that the government would allocate more budget to address personnel issues, but that ship has sailed.”

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/05/23/national/izumo-needed-upgrade-mere-show-force/#.XO3GW66nGUk

Story 3: Trump Agrees With Chairman Kim — Biden Low IQ — Crowd Resistant Boring Biden Goes Into Hiding For Now — Joe Can Hide But Can He Win? No — Videos — Trump Agrees With Chairman Kim — Biden Low IQ — Crowd Resistant Boring Biden Goes Into Hiding For Now — Joe Can Hide But Can He Win? No — Videos —

Joe: You Don’t Attack A Former VP On Foreign Soil | Morning Joe | MSNBC

Joe Biden speaks during a campaign rally in Philadelphia

Joe Biden Slams Trump as ‘Divider In Chief’ at Philadelphia Rally

Joe Biden Kicks Off Campaign With First Rally in Pittsburgh

Biden supporters line up for first campaign rally

Small Crowd Greets Creepy Joe Biden

 

Joe Biden is the front-runner by every measure — except big crowds

The former veep is leading the Democratic field in all the important categories except one.

He’s dominating in the polls, his fundraising is going gangbusters and he’s showing broad support from key political players in the early presidential states.

So where are the big energetic crowds, the lines around the block to get into Joe Biden’s events?

The question is no small matter in a party still recovering from a bitter 2016 defeat — a loss marked by a lack of enthusiasm for an establishment nominee in several critical states.

Attendance at the former vice president’s launch rally paled next to some of his rivals. In his first Iowa visit, he didn’t match the crowds that greeted Elizabeth Warren or even the less well-known Pete Buttigieg in their initial visits. So far, he’s kept his events to smaller venues where there’s little danger of empty seats.

In the eyes of Biden’s progressive critics — as well as President Donald Trump, who has publicly mocked him for it — the seeming lack of excitement or teeming masses at his events is a leading indicator of a lack of passion for his candidacy.

“I started to think the polls were wrong about Biden because it’s not what we’re seeing on the ground,” said Aimee Allison, founder and president of She the People, a national network devoted to promoting women of color.

“Inspiration is the X-factor and we’re waiting for the inspiration from Biden,” she said. “When the inspiration isn’t there, the turnout from the core of the Democratic base — women of color — isn’t there. And then we lose.”

To Biden’s campaign, attendance figures are a meaningless metric. Focusing on crowd size is Trump’s game, it says, an emphasis on style over substance that attempts to turn audience engagement into an argument about the 76-year-old Biden’s energy level.

Crowd size, after all, is an imperfect metric to measure a campaign’s vitality. While it can be a revealing indicator, it still lacks the scientific underpinning of polling or the fixed-dollar figures associated with fundraising. Nor does it account for the judgment of elected and influential Democrats across the country.

Just as critics doubted Biden’s popularity before he got in the race, his campaign is confident he’ll have the crowds when he needs them.

“We’re seeing enormous enthusiasm for Joe Biden’s candidacy across the country, beginning the very first day of the campaign when he got over 100,000 contributions — 65,000 of which were brand new to our lists — from all 50 states,” said Biden campaign spokesman T.J. Ducklo.

Even so, since announcing his candidacy more than a month ago, Biden has yet to draw anything near the 20,000 people who showed in Oakland to cheer on Kamala Harris when she announced, or the 13,000 who turned out in Brooklyn for Bernie Sanders’ launch.

Last Saturday, when Biden held a rally for his headquarters’ opening in Philadelphia, his campaign estimated the crowd size was 6,000 — a count thatsome local observers thought might be generous. One local elected Democrat who supports Biden privately told POLITICO the rally was smaller and less energetic than expected.

The event fell far short of the size his surrogates predicted in one of the nation’s largest Democratic cities. Just before Biden formally announced his candidacy last month, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who helped organize a fundraiser for Biden, had loftier expectations.

“He’s enormously popular here,” Rendell, a former Philadelphia mayor, said in a late April interview. “We could get tens and tens of thousands of people … For one rally, I think we could do that.”

The crowd size was similar to what President Barack Obama drew at a 2016 rally for Hillary Clinton at the same venue. As a candidate, however, in April 2008, some 35,000 people flooded Independence Mall to see Obama — before he was the nominee.

Trump — for whom crowd size borders on obsession — seized on Biden’s Philadelphia launch, mocking the former vice president two days later at a rival Pennsylvania speech in which he exaggerated the smallness of the crowd.

“We have thousands of people … look at the thousands and thousands of people we have,” Trump said at a Montoursville rally, for which his campaign declined to release an estimated crowd count. “They said [Biden] had 600 people … I’d say 150.”

It’s not the first time Trump has needled Biden over crowd sizes. In 2018, when the president and Biden held dueling Nevada rallies in the homestretch of the midterm campaign — and Trump’s Elko rally had more attendees than Biden’s Las Vegas rally — Trump used the occasion to point to Biden’s prior presidential race defeat and joked that Biden “was thrilled that’s one of the biggest crowds he’s ever had.”

It’s not just the size of Biden’s events that are modest, he’s also holding far fewer of them than his primary competitors. Since his launch, he’s visited Iowa only once. And while Democrats crisscrossed early presidential primary states during the long Memorial Day weekend, Biden took it off. (On Tuesday, he travels to Houston where he and his wife, Jill, will join an American Federation of Teachers town hall.)

There are signs that the theme could become more prominent as the campaign progresses. One of the president’s top surrogates, Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz, said Biden won’t have the energy to campaign full time once he gets off “the French workweek campaign schedule” that the Democrat is currently on.

“He wants to make America bored again. It’s like he wants to put his audience to sleep,” Gaetz said.

“Trump’s rallies are big and raucous and enthusiastic. And the reason that matters is that in today’s politics, people want to be part of something,” Gaetz said. “Joe Biden’s rallies looks like an event where you would give a gold watch to the Democrat for a lifetime of service.”

James Carville, one of the masterminds behind Bill Clinton’s campaigns for president, said those criticisms miss an essential point about the kind of no-frills-no-thrills campaign he is running.

“He’s never been a candidate who has run on excitement. He has run on ‘you can trust me. I’m a good guy. My heart is in the right place. I’m human. You know me. I’m well-liked,’” Carville said. “Their theory of the case is people are tired of the circus. And it takes an experienced hand to settle everything down to get us back to some era of sanity.”

To that end, some Democrats say Biden’s sometimes listless crowds aren’t cause for concern, but merely reflective of the part of the electorate backing him: older, middle-of-the-road Democrats who are more likely to turn out to the polls than to boisterous megarallies.

Polk County Democratic Chair Sean Bagniewski said there weren’t lines around the block for Biden during his Iowa visit, but that at a local Democratic Party dinner, the former vice president’s campaign dominated local chatter.

“The polls are picking up the people who might not be going to the rallies, might not be going to the meetings. But the polls can still be right,” Bagniewski said. “The rank and file can be reliable Democrats. They’re the people who have been around for awhile.”

Brian Fallon, former spokesman for Hillary Clinton, said the Biden campaign isn’t going for big crowds and passion and is instead underpinned by “a very pragmatic argument. It’s not an argument designed to electrify. It revolves around electability … It’s not the type of message that inspires a movement. It’s very practical.”

There’s also the matter of Biden’s long tenure in politics. Crowds that flooded to Buttigieg or Beto O’Rourke in this cycle did so in part because they’ve never seen the candidates before.

Tad Devine, who was part of Sanders’ insurgent 2016 campaign against Clinton, added that Biden doesn’t need the big crowds the way Sanders did in the previous race because the former vice president doesn’t need to show he’s a legitimate candidate — he’s the front-runner.

“Biden’s not a crowd candidate. He’s not Obama. He’s not Bernie,” Devine said. “Drawing big crowds is more important for Beto [O’Rourke] or Mayor Pete to get into the mix.”

Holly Otterbein, Daniel Lippman, Christopher Cadelago and Anita Kumar contributed to this report.

https://japantoday.com/category/politics/japan-to-buy-105-f-35-us-stealth-warplanes-trump

 

Story 3: Do Not Panic — Recession Warning or Economic Growth? — Videos –

Trade tensions won’t lead to US recession: Doug Flynn

Scaramucci: US, China deal should come by end of summer

Fed Chair Jerome Powell warns of business debt

Trump’s Trade War (full film) | FRONTLINE

 

Morgan Stanley says economy is on ‘recession watch’ as bond market flashes warning

KEY POINTS
  • Renewed trade tensions and a slump in economic data put U.S. profits and economic growth at risk, Morgan Stanley warned Tuesday.
  • “Numerous leading companies may be starting to throw in the towel on the second half rebound–something we have been expecting,” the bank writes.
  • Wilson adds that market risks have been reflected in the bond market, pointing to an unusual phenomenon in government debt yields.
GS: CBOE options pit 150917
Scott Olson | Getty Images

The stock market and economic outlook in the United States are “deteriorating,” according to an analysis from one of Wall Street’s top investment banks.

Renewed trade tensions and a slump in economic data — ranging from falling durable goods and capital spending to a downshift in the services sector — has put U.S. profits and economic growth at risk, Morgan Stanley warned Tuesday.

“Recent data points suggest US earnings and economic risk is greater than most investors may think,” wrote Michael Wilson, the firm’s chief U.S. equity strategist.

Specifically, the stock strategist highlighted a recent survey from financial data firm IHS Markit that showed manufacturing activity fell to a nine-year low in May. That report also revealed a “notable slowdown” in the U.S. services sector, a key area for an American economy characterized by huge job gains in health care and business services.

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Many recent reports reflect April data, “which means it weakened before the re-escalation of trade tensions,” Wilson continued. “In addition, numerous leading companies may be starting to throw in the towel on the second half rebound–something we have been expecting but we believe many investors are not.”

Wilson was one of the most bearish stock strategists last year, defending his initial S&P 500 call of 2,750 for year-end 2018 without adjusting it throughout the year. By the end of the year, his call was the most accurate of any strategist tracked by CNBC.

He’s stood by his gloomy case for 2019, often warning that investors could be caught in a “rolling bear market ” for the next several years. The market has thus far outpaced Wilson’s models for 2019, with the S&P 500 up 11.7% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 8.6% year to date.

The stock market sold off Tuesday, adding to steep losses for the month of May. The Dow fell 237 points and the S&P dropped 0.8% during the session; they are down 4.6% and 4.8%, respectively, this month.

VIDEO02:43
Bond market primary concern for investors, says chief economist

Still, many economists are predicting an anemic second half of the year. For their part, Morgan Stanley economists have lowered their second-quarter U.S. GDP forecast to 0.6% from 1.0%. That comes after J.P. Morgan last week cut its own second-quarter outlook to 1% from 2.25%.

“The April durable goods report was bad, particularly the details relating to capital goods orders and shipments. Coming on the heels of last week’s crummy April retail sales report, it suggests second quarter activity growth is sharply downshifting from the first quarter pace, ” the economists wrote.

Companies ranging from manufacturers like Deere and Polaris Industries to computer chip maker Microchip and toolmaker Snap-On have all bemoaned the Trump administration’s escalated trade war with China and have warned it could impact their business. The White House bumped the tariff rate on $200 billion of Chinese imports to 25% from 10% earlier this month, drawing a similar response against American goods from Beijing.

While the number of companies explicitly airing their trade grievances remains comparatively small, they likely represent a larger number of American companies set for pain as bilateral tariffs threaten their bottom lines.

“Regular readers are likely familiar with our view that the US economy is vulnerable to a more significant slowdown due to overheating last year from the fiscal stimulus,” Wilson wrote. “This led to labor cost pressures for corporations, excessive inventories and an overzealous capex cycle that is now reverting to the mean, which means well below trend spending for several quarters.”

Those market risks have been reflected in the bond market, Wilson added, pointing to an unusual phenomenon in government debt yields.

When investors believe the economy is set for healthy growth, those that buy debt from the U.S. government for years are compensated with better interest rates than those who loan money for a matter of months. Under those normal circumstances, the plot of Treasury interest rates slopes upward, with investors earning more for holding debt for 10 years rather than a few months.

That usual upward slope can change, however, when investors think economic output growth is likely to fall. That occurred earlier this year, when the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield first dropped below that of the 3-month Treasury bill, a sign many on Wall Street read as a recessionary signal.

The curve flattened further Tuesday as the 3-month bill yielded 2.356% and the 10-year note yielded 2.269%.

Some investors wrote it off, saying “it’s different this time” thanks to the Federal Reserve’s lingering quantitative easing or by how quickly the curve appeared to correct to a steeper shape. But Morgan Stanley’s deeper dive into the data — controlling for the Fed’s tinkering — reveals a “much different picture.”

Morgan Stanley’s analysis shows the adjusted yield curve first inverted in November and has stayed in negative territory ever since.

“The adjusted yield curve inverted last November and has remained in negative territory ever since, surpassing the minimum time required for a valid meaningful economic slowdown signal,” Wilson wrote. “It also suggests the ‘shot clock’ started 6 months ago, putting us ‘in the zone’ for a recession watch.”

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/28/morgan-stanley-says-economy-on-recession-watch-amid-bond-warning.html

 

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1217, February 28, 2019, Story 1: Dirt Desperate Democrats Rehash Old Stories and Lies About Trump That Are Not Crimes in Questioning Michael Cohen — No Evidence of Trump/Russian Collusion — No Love Child — No Porn Videos — No Drug Use — No Crimes — No Golden Showers — No Credibility — No Impeachment — Videos — Story 2: President Trump Meets With Chairman Kim Who Refuses To Denuclearize — No Deal — Trump Friendly Walk Away — Sanctions Stay on North Korea – China Is Major Violator of Sanctions — Impose Tariffs on Communist China Now! — Videos — Story 3: United States Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Grew At 2.9% in 2018 and Advance Estimate of 2.6 % in the fourth quarter of 2018 — Videos

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Story 1: Dirt Desperate Democrats in Questioning Michael Cohen — Rehash Old Stories and Lies About Trump That Are Not Crimes — More False Accusations With No Evidence — No Evidence of Trump/Russian Collusion — No Love Child — No Porn Videos — No Drug Use — No Crimes — No Golden Showers — No Credibility — No Impeachment —  Videos —

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Michael Cohen: President Trump is a racist, conman and cheat

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Cummings: It appears Trump committed a crime in office

Gutfeld on media coverage of Hanoi and Cohen

Michael Cohen and Rep. Jim Jordan clash during hearing

Cohen wipes away tear during Cummings’ closing statement

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WATCH: Cohen says if Trump loses 2020 election, there won’t be a ‘peaceful transition of power

Elijah Cummings’ stunning closing remarks at Cohen hearing

Elijah Cummings: ‘200 Years From Now, People Will Be Reading About This Moment’ | MTP Daily | MSNBC

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What new information came out of Cohen hearing?

Michael Cohen speaks out after his sentencing: ‘I have my freedom back’

Turley: Potential Trump Campaign Finance Violations ‘Very Serious,’ But Difficult to Prove

Mark Levin slams Michael Cohen’s plea deal

Former FEC chairman Bradley Smith talks campaign finance law

Mark Levin: Legal precedent is on Trump’s side

Michael Cohen reveals Trump is being probed for ‘OTHER wrongdoing or illegal act’ by Manhattan federal prosecutors – and accuses Don Jr. of being part of criminal conspiracy too

  • Michael Cohen revealed that President Trump is being investigated for ‘other wrongdoing’ although he refused to divulge details 
  •  ‘This topic is actually something that’s being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York,’ Cohen said when asked about a Trump meeting
  • ‘I’ve been asked by them not to discuss and not to talk about these issues,’ he added because of their ongoing investigation
  • Cohen also implicated Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, as part of the conspiracy to offer hush money payments to women during the 2016 campaign 
  • One of Cohen’s eight guilty felony pleas was to campaign finance violations tied to the payoff to Daniels 

Michael Cohen revealed on Wednesday that President Donald Trump is being investigated for ‘other wrongdoing’ although he refused to divulge details because of the ongoing investigation.

He made his comments during his nearly 5 hours of testifying before the House Oversight and Reform Committee – his second out of three appearances this week on Capitol Hill and the only one before cameras.

Cohen, the president’s former personal lawyer, revealed the last time he had contact with Trump or one of his team was ‘within two months’ of the April 2018 FBI raid on Cohen’s home, office and hotel suite.

Michael Cohen revealed that President Trump is being investigated for 'other wrongdoing' although he refused to divulge details

Michael Cohen revealed that President Trump is being investigated for ‘other wrongdoing’ although he refused to divulge details

President Trump is in Vietnam for his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

President Trump is in Vietnam for his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

Cohen also implicated Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son seen above, as part of the conspiracy to offer hush money payments to women during the 2016 campaign
Democratic Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi asked Cohen what he was told during that contact.

Cohen declined to offer details.

‘Unfortunately, this topic is actually something that’s being investigated right now by the Southern District of New York and I’ve been asked by them not to discuss and not to talk about these issues,’ Cohen replied.

The Southern District of New York was the lead prosecutor in Cohen’s case and is probing Trump’s business dealings.

‘Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding Donald Trump that we haven’t yet discussed today?’ Krishnamoorthi inquired.

‘Yes,’ Cohen responded. ‘And again, those are part of the investigation that’s currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York.’

Cohen also implicated Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, as part of the conspiracy to offer hush money payments to women during the 2016 campaign.

He revealed the president’s son signed a check to fund illegal hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, potentially placing Trump Jr. in legal trouble.

One of Cohen’s eight guilty pleas was to campaign finance violations tied to the payoff to Daniels.

A ‘hush money’ payment to Daniels during the 2016 race with funds originating from a home equity line of credit Cohen obtained – at Trump’s direction, he claimed – was part of the money Trump repaid in a series of $35,000 checks to Cohen that continued during his first year in office.

Cohen provided two checks to the House Oversight and Reform Committee as evidence.

One check provided to the committee was signed by Trump himself in August 2017, more than six months into his administration, and issued from what Cohen says is the president’s personal account.

The other is from the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust – and signed by both Donald Trump Jr. and Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg.

A Trump Organization official told DailyMail.com on Wednesday that Donald Trump Jr. was unaware when he signed the check that it was part of a repayment plan for Cohen’s hush-money outlay.

Cohen said Wednesday that the money ‘was declared to be a retainer for services’ although ‘there is no retainer agreement.’

Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna drilled down on the payments, saying they were the ‘smoking gun’ showing ‘garden variety financial fraud’ at the president’s business.

Khanna asked Cohen whether Trump was aware of the scheme

Rep. Ro Khanna (center) asked Michael Cohen about payoffs to Stormy Daniels

Rep. Ro Khanna (center) asked Michael Cohen about payoffs to Stormy Daniels

Cohen talked about Donald Trump Jr's involvement in payments to Daniels

Cohen talked about Donald Trump Jr’s involvement in payments to Daniels

President Donald Trump

Porm actress Stormy Daniels, born Stephanie Clifford

Cohen told the House Oversight and Reform Committee that as a lawyer for Daniels (right) threatened to go public with her claims of a sexual affair more than a decade earlier, Trump (left, in Vietnam on Wednesday) ordered him to find a way to funnel the payment to her via that attorney

Michael Cohen offered financial documents to the committee and said he did not know if the president's taxes were under audit

Michael Cohen offered financial documents to the committee and said he did not know if the president’s taxes were under audit

Cohen has provided members of Congress with two checks, one signed by the president and the other by his son Donald Jr, which he says was reimbursement for payments meant to keep Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal quiet; President Trump's check was written after he had been president for more than a half-year

Cohen has provided members of Congress with two checks, one signed by the president and the other by his son Donald Jr, which he says was reimbursement for payments meant to keep Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal quiet; President Trump’s check was written after he had been president for more than a half-year

The Donald Trump Jr.-signed check was dated in March 2017, and was drawn on a family Trust; A Trump Organization official told DailyMail.com on Wednesday that Trump Jr. was unaware when he signed it that it was part of a repayment plan for Cohen's hush-money outlay

The Donald Trump Jr.-signed check was dated in March 2017, and was drawn on a family Trust; A Trump Organization official told DailyMail.com on Wednesday that Trump Jr. was unaware when he signed it that it was part of a repayment plan for Cohen’s hush-money outlay

Cohen replied in the affirmative.

‘Are you telling us, Mr. Cohen, that the president directed transactions in conspiracy with Allen Weisselberg and his son, Donald Trump Jr., as part of a criminal conspiracy of financial fraud?’ Khanna followed up. ‘Is that your testimony today?’

‘Yes,’ Cohen said.

Cohen did decline to say whether he believed Trump Jr. was being investigated by federal prosecutors.

Cohen also indicated Trump could have committed financial fraud when he faced questioning from freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

He revealed additional details on how Trump provided insurance companies with financials that exaggerated his assets and wealth but wanted to reduce his real estate taxes – and if the president lied on insurance and IRS forms to make this happen, that would be fraud.

Ocasio-Cortez stayed on financial issues for nearly all her questioning as she laid the groundwork for the committee to continue and expand its investigation of the president’s business empire.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez quizzes Michael Cohen on Trump’s finances
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's questions to Michael Cohen laid the groundwork for additional subpoenas on Trump's businesses and taxes

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s questions to Michael Cohen laid the groundwork for additional subpoenas on Trump’s businesses and taxes

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez kept her questions focused on the Trump's financial issues

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez kept her questions focused on the Trump’s financial issues

‘Where would the committee find more information on this? Do you think we need to review his financial statements and tax returns in order to compare them?,’ she asked.

‘Yes, and you would find it at the Trump Org,’ Cohen told her.

She also set up the possibility of the committee using its subpoena power to obtain the president’s tax records and other financial documents.

Ocasio-Cortez inquired if it ‘would it help for the committee to obtain federal and state returns from the president and his company to address that?’

 ‘I believe so,’ Cohen told her.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6754001/Michael-Cohen-reveals-Trump-probed-wrongdoing-illegal-act.html

 

 

Cohen says Trump behaved ‘much like a mobster would do’

Cohen says Trump behaved ‘much like a mobster would do’

today
Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former lawyer, testifies before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, on Capitol Hill, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — He carried out the boss’ wishes. He understood “the code.” He was blindly loyal — but now he’s considered a rat.

Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen spoke at length Wednesday about his life in the president’s inner circle, but the most vivid descriptor came in just six words. Trump ran his operation “much like a mobster would do,” Cohen said.

In Cohen’s scathing testimony at a House committee hearing, he repeatedly described Trump, the onetime head of a family business, like a mob boss minus the body count: quick to bully and expecting others to do his dirty work. Cohen described himself as a consigliere, telling lawmakers he did Trump’s bidding for years, intimidating maybe 500 people and lying to scores, including the first lady. But Trump never directly told him to do it, he said.

“He doesn’t give you questions, he doesn’t give you orders,” Cohen said. “He speaks in a code, and I understand the code because I’ve been around him for a decade.”

Cohen is facing a three-year sentence for lying to Congress in 2017 and other charges. He came back to Capitol Hill this week, worrying for his family’s safety, but claiming he would no longer lie for his former boss and was ready to spill.

Trump has denied the allegations against him and called Cohen a liar. Even as he’s done so, he’s used mob speak.

“Remember, Michael Cohen only became a ‘Rat’ after the FBI did something which was absolutely unthinkable & unheard of until the Witch Hunt was illegally started,” Trump tweeted in December. “They BROKE INTO AN ATTORNEY’S OFFICE,” he wrote, referring to the raid on Cohen’s office that touched off the now-disbarred lawyer’s eventual guilty plea.

During the hearing, Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly even likened Cohen to Joe Valachi, an American gangster known as the “first rat” whose 1960s testimony before Congress lead to the eventual dismantling of organized crime.

“This Congress historically has relied on all kinds of shady figures who turned,” Connolly said.

It’s hardly the first time Trump’s orbit has drawn mob comparisons.

In his book “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership,” former FBI director James Comey said he got the sinking feeling that Trump’s operation functioned like the mob. Former acting FBI director Andrew McCabe spun a similar story, and a former agent and former federal prosecutor tweeted Wednesday that Trump’s tactics as detailed by Cohen sure felt a lot like the mafia.

There’s even a “Godfather: Part II” reference in the indictment by the special prosecutor investigating Trump’s possible ties to Russia. Trump confidant Roger Stone told an associate to pull a “Frank Pentangeli” before a House committee, the indictment says. In the film, Pentangeli, an associate of the Corleone crime family, lies to protect the family during congressional testimony.

___

Associated Press Writer Michael Balsamo contributed to this report.

https://apnews.com/88e83c32a9d54d82abe3ac52bfad22e4

Plea bargaining in the United States

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in the United States
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Types of agent

Plea bargaining in the United States is very common; the vast majority of criminal cases in the United States are settled by plea bargain rather than by a jury trial.[1][2] They have also been increasing in frequency—they rose from 84% of federal cases in 1984 to 94% by 2001.[3] Plea bargains are subject to the approval of the court, and different States and jurisdictions have different rules. Game theory has been used to analyze the plea bargaining decision.[4]

The constitutionality of plea bargaining was established by Brady v. United States in 1970,[5] although the Supreme Court warned that plea incentives which were sufficiently large or coercive as to over-rule defendants’ abilities to act freely, or used in a manner giving rise to a significant number of innocent people pleading guilty, might be prohibited or lead to concerns over constitutionality.[6] Santobello v. New York added that when plea bargains are broken, legal remedies exist.[7]

Several features of the American justice system tend to promote plea bargaining. The adversarial nature of the system puts judges in a passive role, in which they are completely dependent upon the parties to develop the factual record and cannot independently discover information with which to assess the strength of the case against the defendant. The parties thus can control the outcome of the case by exercising their rights or bargaining them away. The lack of compulsory prosecution also gives prosecutors greater discretion. And the inability of crime victims to mount a private prosecution and their limited ability to influence plea agreements also tends to encourage plea bargaining.[8] Prosecutors have been described as monopsonists.[9]

 

History and constitutionality

Early history[edit]

Plea bargaining has existed for centuries; in older legal systems convictions were at times routinely procured by confession, and laws existed covering such criminal confessions, although by the 18th century inducements had been forbidden in English Law to prevent miscarriage of justice.[10] Accordingly, early US plea bargain history led to courts’ permitting withdrawal of pleas and rejection of plea bargains, although such arrangements continued to happen behind the scenes.[10] A rise in the scale and scope of criminal law led to plea bargaining’s gaining new acceptance in the early 20th century, as courts and prosecutors sought to address an overwhelming influx of cases:[10]

[F]ederal prosecutions under the Prohibition Act terminated in 1930 had become nearly eight times as many as the total number of all pending federal prosecutions in 1914. In a number of urban districts the enforcement agencies maintain that the only practicable way of meeting this situation with the existing machinery of the federal courts … is for the United States Attorneys to make bargains with defendants or their counsel whereby defendants plead guilty to minor offenses and escape with light penalties.[3][10]

However, even though over 90% of convictions were based upon plea bargaining by 1930, courts remained reluctant for some time to endorse these when appealed.[10]

Modern history (c. 1950 onward)

The constitutionality of plea bargaining and its legal footing were established by Brady v. United States (1970).[5] The U.S. Supreme Court warned, in the same decision, that this was conditional only and required appropriate safeguards and usage—namely that plea incentives so large or coercive as to overrule defendants’ abilities to act freely, or used in a manner giving rise to a significant number of innocent people pleading guilty, might be prohibited or lead to concerns over constitutionality.[6] Previously, the Court had held in United States v. Jackson that a law was unconstitutional that had the effect of imposing undue fear in a defendant (in that case, the fear of death) to the point it discouraged the exercise of a constitutional right (the 6th Amendment covering the right to a jury trial), and also forced the defendant to act as an unwilling witness against himself in violation of the 5th amendment.[11] The Court stated that:

[T]he plea is more than an admission of past conduct; it is the defendant’s consent that judgment of conviction may be entered without a trial—a waiver of his right to trial before a jury or a judge. Waivers of constitutional rights not only must be voluntary but must be knowing, intelligent acts done with sufficient awareness of the relevant circumstances and likely consequences.[12]

The ruling distinguished Brady from other prior cases emphasizing improper confessions, concluding: “we cannot hold that it is unconstitutional for the State to extend a benefit to a defendant who in turn extends a substantial benefit to the State and who demonstrates by his plea that he is ready and willing to admit his crime and to enter the correctional system in a frame of mind that affords hope for success in rehabilitation over a shorter period of time than might otherwise be necessary.” It laid down the following conditions for a plea to be valid:[13]

  • Defendant must be “fully aware of the direct consequences, including the actual value of any commitments made to him”
  • Plea must not be “induced by threats (or promises to discontinue improper harassment), misrepresentation (including unfulfilled or unfulfillable promises), or perhaps by promises that are by their nature improper as having no proper relationship to the prosecutor’s business (e. g. bribes)”
  • Pleas entered would not become invalid later merely due to a wish to reconsider the judgment which led to them, or better information about the Defendant’s or the State’s case, or the legal position.
  • Plea bargaining “is no more foolproof than full trials to the court or to the jury. Accordingly, we take great precautions against unsound results. […] We would have serious doubts about this case if the encouragement of guilty pleas by offers of leniency substantially increased the likelihood that defendants, advised by competent counsel, would falsely condemn themselves. But our view is to the contrary and is based on our expectations that courts will satisfy themselves that pleas of guilty are voluntarily and intelligently made by competent defendants with adequate advice of counsel and that there is nothing to question the accuracy and reliability of the defendants’ admissions”.
  • The ruling in Brady does not discuss “situation[s] where the prosecutor or judge, or both, deliberately employ their charging and sentencing powers to induce a particular defendant to tender a plea of guilty. In Brady’s case there is no claim that the prosecutor threatened prosecution on a charge not justified by the evidence or that the trial judge threatened Brady with a harsher sentence if convicted after trial in order to induce him to plead guilty.”

Santobello v. New York added that when plea bargains are broken, remedies exist; and it has been argued that given the prevalence of plea agreements, the most important rights of the accused may be found in the law of contracts rather than the law of trial procedure.[9]

Litigation is pending that could determine whether alleged victims of federal crime have a right to be informed by a U.S. Attorney before plea bargains are entered with a defendant.[14][15]

Federal system

The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are followed in federal cases and have been created to ensure a standard of uniformity in all cases decided in the federal courts. A two- or three-level offense level reduction is usually available for those who accept responsibility by not holding the prosecution to the burden of proving its case.

The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure provide for two main types of plea agreements. An 11(c)(1)(B) agreement does not bind the court; the prosecutor’s recommendation is merely advisory, and the defendant cannot withdraw his plea if the court decides to impose a sentence other than what was stipulated in the agreement. An 11(c)(1)(C) agreement does bind the court once the court accepts the agreement. When such an agreement is proposed, the court can reject it if it disagrees with the proposed sentence, in which case the defendant has an opportunity to withdraw his plea.[16]

State systems

Plea bargains are so common in the Superior Courts of California that the Judicial Council of California has published an optional seven-page form (containing all mandatory advisements required by federal and state law) to help prosecutors and defense attorneys reduce such bargains into written plea agreements.[17]

In California, plea bargaining is sometimes used in proceedings for involuntary commitment for mental disorder. Some individuals alleged to be dangerous to self and/or dangerous to others bargain to be classified instead as merely “gravely disabled.”[18]

Controversy

The use of plea bargaining has inspired some controversy over issues such as its potentially coercive effect on incarcerated defendants, defendants who have been charged with more serious offenses than the facts warrant, and innocent defendants, all of whom might feel pressured to enter into a plea bargain to avoid the more serious consequences that would result from conviction.

A theory was put forth that an informal courtroom work group is secretly formed between judge, defense attorney and prosecutor, wherein the goal then becomes to speed cases through rather than to ensure that justice is served.[19]

Coercive effect

Plea bargaining is also criticized, particularly outside the United States, on the grounds that its close relationship with rewards, threats and coercion potentially endangers the correct legal outcome.[20]

In the book Presumed Guilty: When Innocent People Are Wrongly Convicted (1991), author Martin Yant discusses the use of coercion in plea bargaining.[21]

Even when the charges are more serious, prosecutors often can still bluff defense attorneys and their clients into pleading guilty to a lesser offense.

As a result, people who might have been acquitted because of lack of evidence, but also who are in fact truly innocent, will often plead guilty to the charge. Why? In a word, fear. And the more numerous and serious the charges, studies have shown, the greater the fear. That explains why prosecutors sometimes seem to file every charge imaginable against defendants.

The theoretical work based on the prisoner’s dilemma is one reason why, in many countries, plea bargaining is forbidden. Often, precisely the prisoner’s dilemma scenario applies: it is in the interest of both suspects to confess and testify against the other suspect, irrespective of the innocence of the accused. Arguably, the worst case is when only one party is guilty—here, the innocent one is unlikely to confess, while the guilty one is likely to confess and testify against the innocent.

Judicial efficiency

The United States Supreme Court has recognized plea bargaining as both an essential and desirable part of the criminal justice system.[22] The benefits of plea-bargaining are said to be obvious: the relief of court congestion, alleviation of the risks and uncertainties of trial, and its information gathering value.[23]

However, in 1975 the Attorney-General of Alaska, Avrum Gross, ordered an end to all plea-bargaining;[24] subsequent attorneys-general continued the practice. Similar consequences were observed in New OrleansVentura County, California, and in Oakland County, Michigan, where plea bargaining has been terminated. Bidinotto found:[25]

…ending plea bargaining has put responsibility back into every level of our system: police did better investigating; prosecutors and lawyers began preparing their cases better; lazy judges were compelled to spend more time in court and control their calendars more efficiently. Most importantly, justice was served—and criminals began to realize that they could not continue their arrogant manipulation of a paper-tiger court system.

Another argument against plea bargaining is that it may not actually reduce the costs of administering justice. For example, if a prosecutor has only a 25% chance of winning his case and sending the defendant away to prison for 10 years, he may make a plea agreement for a one-year sentence; but if plea bargaining is unavailable, he may drop the case completely.[26]

Plea bargaining may allow prosecutors to allocate their resources more efficiently, such that they may direct more time and resources to the trial of suspects charged with serious offenses.[27]

Impact on average sentences

The shadow-of-trial argument asserts that in the aggregate, plea agreements merely reflect the outcome that would have transpired had the case gone to trial. For example, if the accused faces 10 years and has a 50% chance of losing in court, then an agreement will result in a five-year sentence, less some amount deducted for saving the government the cost of trial. Theoretically, the shadow-of-trial should work even better in criminal cases than in civil cases, because civil judgments are discretionary, while criminal judgments are often regulated by mandatory minima and sentencing guidelines, making sentences more predictable.

A counter-argument is that criminal sentencing laws are “lumpy”, in that the sentencing ranges are not as precise as the dollars-and-cents calibration that can be achieved in civil case settlements. Furthermore, because some defendants facing small amounts of prison time are jailed pending trial, they may find it in their interests to plead guilty so as to be sentenced to time served, or in any event to end up serving less time than they would serve waiting for trial.[28] Outcomes in criminal cases are also made less predictable by the fact that, while a plaintiff in a civil case has a financial incentive to seek the largest judgment possible, a prosecutor does not necessarily have an incentive to pursue the most severe sentence possible.[29]

Constitutionality

Some legal scholars argue that plea bargaining is unconstitutional because it takes away a person’s right to a trial by jury.[30] Justice Hugo Black once noted that, in America, the defendant “has an absolute, unqualified right to compel the State to investigate its own case, find its own witnesses, prove its own facts, and convince the jury through its own resources. Throughout the process, the defendant has a fundamental right to remain silent, in effect challenging the State at every point to ‘Prove it!'”[31] It is argued that plea bargaining is inconsistent with limits imposed on the powers of the police and prosecutors by the Bill of Rights. This position has been rejected by the nation’s courts.[32]

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plea_bargaining_in_the_United_States

 

Federal Election Campaign Act

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Federal Election Campaign Act
Great Seal of the United States
Other short titles Campaign Finance Act
Long title An Act to promote fair practices in the conduct of election campaigns for Federal political offices, and for other purposes.
Acronyms(colloquial) FECA
Nicknames Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971
Enacted by the 92nd United States Congress
Effective April 7, 1972
Citations
Public law 92-225
Statutes at Large 86 Stat. 3
Codification
Titles amended 2 U.S.C.: Congress
U.S.C.sections created 2 U.S.C. ch. 14 § 431 et seq.
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 382 by John O. Pastore(DRIon May 6, 1971
  • Committee consideration by Senate Finance
  • Passed the Senate on August 5, 1971 (88-2)
  • Passed the House on November 30, 1971 (372-23, in lieu of H.R. 11060)
  • Reported by the joint conference committee onDecember 1, 1971; agreed to by the Senate onDecember 14, 1971 (Agreed, in lieu of S.Rept. 92–580) and by the House on January 19, 1972 (334-20, in lieu of H.Rept. 92–752)
  • Signed into law by President Richard M. Nixon onFebruary 7, 1972

The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECAPub.L. 92–225, 86 Stat. 3, enacted February 7, 1972, 52 U.S.C. § 30101 et seq.) is the primary United States federal law regulating political campaign spending and fundraising. The law originally focused on increased disclosure of contributions for federal campaigns. The S. 382 legislation was passed by the 92nd U.S. Congressional session and signed by the 37th President of the United States Richard Nixon on February 7, 1972.[1]

In 1974, the Act was amended to place legal limits on the campaign contributions and expenditures. The 1974 amendments also created the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The Act was amended again in 1976, in response to the provisions ruled unconstitutional by Buckley v. Valeo, including the structure of the FEC and the limits on campaign expenditures, and again in 1979 to allow parties to spend unlimited amounts of hard money on activities like increasing voter turnout and registration. In 1979, the FEC ruled that political parties could spend unregulated or “soft” money for non-federal administrative and party building activities. Later, this money was used for candidate-related issue ads, which led to a substantial increase in soft money contributions and expenditures in elections. This in turn led to passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (“BCRA”), effective on January 1, 2003, banning soft money expenditure by parties. Some of the legal limits on giving of “hard money” were also changed by BCRA.

In addition to limiting the size of contributions to candidates and political parties, FECA also requires campaigns and political committees to report the names, addresses, and occupations of donors of more than $200.

The FECA contains an express preemption clause. The FECA expressly preempts state and federal law with respect to federal elections.

 

History

As early as 1905, Theodore Roosevelt asserted the need for campaign finance reform and called for legislation to ban corporate contributions for political purposes. In response, the United States Congress enacted the Tillman Act of 1907, named for its sponsor Senator Benjamin Tillman, banning corporate contributions. Further regulation followed in the Federal Corrupt Practices Act enacted in 1910, and subsequent amendments in 1910 and 1925, the Hatch Act, the Smith-Connally Act of 1943, and the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. These Acts sought to regulate corporate and union spending in campaigns for federal office, and mandated public disclosure of campaign donors.

In 1971, Congress consolidated its earlier reform efforts in the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), instituting more stringent disclosure requirements for federal candidates, political parties and Political action committees (PACs). Still, without a central administrative authority, the campaign finance laws were difficult to enforce.

Government subsidies for federal elections, originally proposed by President Roosevelt in 1907, began to take shape as part of the 1971 law, as Congress established the income tax checkoff to provide for the financing of Presidential general election campaigns and national party conventions. Amendments to the Internal Revenue Code in 1974 established the matching fund program for Presidential primary campaigns.

Following reports of serious financial abuses in the 1972 Presidential campaign, Congress amended the FECA in 1974 to set limits on contributions by individuals, political parties and PACs. The 1974 amendments also established an independent agency, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to enforce the law, facilitate disclosure and administer the public funding program. The FEC opened its doors in 1975 and administered the first publicly funded Presidential election in 1976.

In 1976, in Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court struck down several key provisions of the 1974 amendments to the Act, including limits on spending by candidate campaigns, limits on the ability of citizens to spend money independently of a campaign, and limits on the amount of money a candidate could donate to his or her own campaign. Buckley v. Valeo also substantially narrowed the category of independent political expenditures subject to mandatory donor disclosure.

Congress made further amendments to the FECA in 1976 to conform the law with the ruling in Buckley v. Valeo. Major amendments were also made in 1979 to streamline the disclosure process and expand the role of political parties.

In 2002, Congress made major revisions to the FECA in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, more commonly referred to as “McCain-Feingold.” However, major portions of McCain-Feingold were struck down by the Supreme Court on Constitutional grounds in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. (2007), Davis v. Federal Election Commission (2008) and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010). The Citizens United ruling also struck down FECA’s complete ban on corporate and union independent spending, originally passed as part of the Taft-Hartley law in 1947.[2]

Amendments to 1971 Act

U.S. Congressional amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.

Date of Enactment Public Law Number U.S. Statute Citation U.S. Legislative Bill U.S. Presidential Administration
October 15, 1974 P.L. 93-443 88 Stat. 1263 S. 3044 Gerald R. Ford
May 11, 1976 P.L. 94-283 90 Stat. 475 S. 3065 Gerald R. Ford
October 12, 1977 P.L. 95-127 91 Stat. 1110 S. 1435 Jimmy E. Carter
January 8, 1980 P.L. 96-187 93 Stat. 1339 H.R. 5010 Jimmy E. Carter
May 29, 1980 P.L. 96-253 94 Stat. 398 S. 2648 Jimmy E. Carter
December 28, 1995 P.L. 104-79 109 Stat. 791 H.R. 2527 William J. Clinton
March 27, 2002 P.L. 107-155 116 Stat. 81 H.R. 2356 George W. Bush

See also[

References

  1. ^ Peters, Gerhard; Woolley, John T. “Richard Nixon: “Statement on Signing the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.,” February 7, 1972″The American Presidency Project. University of California – Santa Barbara.
  2. ^ The FEC and the Federal Campaign Finance Law

External links

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Election_Campaign_Act

 

Story 2: President Trump Meets With Chairman Kim Who Refuses To Denuclearize — Trump Friendly Walk Away — Sanctions Stay on North Korea – China Is Major Violator of Sanctions — Impose Tariffs on Communist China Now! — Videos —

See the source image

Special Report: President Trump Speaks After North Korea Summit

Trump Was Right to Walk Away From Kim Talks, Adm. Mullen Say

Trump speaks to press after one-on-onhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BShvYeyMm_Ye with Kim

Reporters at IMC react to results of Hanoi summit

North Korea Confirms Kim Jong Un Is Visiting China Ahead Of A Possible Second Trump Summit | TIME

China undermining North Korea sanctions?

The growing North Korean nuclear threat, explained [Updated]

How America became a superpower

NO DEAL! Vietnam summit ends abruptly as Kim REFUSES Trump’s denuclearization demands, leaders fail to agree on lifting North Korean sanctions and abandon lunch and cancel signing ceremony

  • Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un abruptly ended their summit in Hanoi early without signing a deal 
  • He said the issue was Kim’s insistence that all sanctions get lifted in return for only giving up some nukes
  • Trump continued to tout his ‘warm’ relationship with Kim, but added ‘you have to be willing to walk away’
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added that progress had been made ‘but we didn’t get all the way’ 
  • Planned lunch never happened 
  • Kim’s state news agency KCNA said on Thursday: ‘Sincere and in-depth views were exchanged to bring about a comprehensive and groundbreaking outcome’
  • The talks came just hours after Michael Cohen’s bombshell testimony to Congress which damned his ex-boss as a racist and a liar 

Donald Trump’s talks with Kim Jong-un ended abruptly on Thursday as the president said he was forced to walk away after the North Korean dictator demanded that all sanctions be lifted in return for giving up only some of his nukes.

Trump said the final snag that caused the sudden breakdown was over sanctions – and Kim’s push to have all of them lifted in exchange for a concession Trump and his secretary of state could not live with.

‘Sometimes you have to walk away,’ Trump told reporters at a press conference in Hanoi that was abruptly moved up after a breakdown in talks.

The president expressed his hope that the two leaders would meet again, but acknowledged: ‘It might be soon, it might not be for a long time. I can’t tell you.’

Meanwhile, the president blasted longtime fixer Michael Cohen, saying he ‘lied’ after his former lawyer delivered bombshell testimony. The president mostly avoided the topic by calling on a series of members of the foreign press corps he did not recognize rather than White House reporters preparing to quiz him on the crimes Cohen claims he witnessed.

‘Person in the front go ahead,’ Trump said, calling on one of many members of the foreign press corps covering the event.

President Trump abruptly ended talks with Kim Jong-un in Hanoi on Thursday, telling reporters that the North Korean leader had demanded that all sanctions be lifted in return for only getting rid of part of his nuclear stockpile, so he walked away

President Trump abruptly ended talks with Kim Jong-un in Hanoi on Thursday, telling reporters that the North Korean leader had demanded that all sanctions be lifted in return for only getting rid of part of his nuclear stockpile, so he walked away

Trump said that he remains on good terms with Kim and continued to tout the ‘enormous potential’ of North Korea, not notably said there were no plans for a next summit meeting.

Trump candidly revealed that Kim wanted the sanctions off, but was not willing to give up his array of nukes, missiles, and additional sites he only alluded to vaguely.

‘Basically they wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that,’ the president said. ‘They were willing to de-nuke a large portion of the areas that we wanted but we couln’t give up all of the sacntions for that.

‘We had to walk away from that particularly suggestion. We had to walk away from that,’ Trump said.

‘It was about sanctions. They wanted sanctions lifted but they weren’t willing to do an area that we wanted,’ Trump said.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added: ‘We have been working for weeks to find a path forward so we could make a big step at this summit.

‘We made progress and even more progress when the two leaders met over the last 48, or 72 hours.

‘But we didn’t get all the way. We didn’t get something that made sense for the United States.’

The first signs of a rupture came when the White House suddenly made changes to the president’s schedule.

A planned lunch meeting never happened, although a table was set with a floral centerpiece and menus folded inside napkins.

Reporters on hand to cover it were told to move to another location.

Describing talks, which ran from a Wednesday dinner through mid-day Thursday, Trump said: ‘We spent pretty much all day with Kim Jong-un, who is – he’s quite a guy and quite a character. And I think our relationship is very strong.’

Both Trump and Pompeo said there was a willingness on both sides to keep talking, but revealed that no follow-up summit has been scheduled.

Trump said that in the meantime, Kim was ‘not going to do testing of rockets and nuclear. I trust him and I take him at his word.’

He indicated that Kim was willing to make concessions related to the Yongbyon facility where his regime enriches Plutonium, but it wasn’t enough.

‘That facility while very big, it wasn’t enough to do what we were doing. We had to have more than that,’ said Trump.

Trump insisted that his relationship with Kim remains 'warm' and that he sees 'great potential' in North Korea, but added that sometimes 'you have to be willing to walk away from a deal' if it's not the right one+48

Trump insisted that his relationship with Kim remains ‘warm’ and that he sees ‘great potential’ in North Korea, but added that sometimes ‘you have to be willing to walk away from a deal’ if it’s not the right one

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added that his team had been working with North Korea 'for weeks' to try and achieve a deal and that Trump and Kim made more progress towards a deal, but 'we didn't get all the way' 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo added that his team had been working with North Korea ‘for weeks’ to try and achieve a deal and that Trump and Kim made more progress towards a deal, but ‘we didn’t get all the way’

President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un resumed their summit in Hanoi on Thursday morning local time – as Trump predicted a 'fantastic success' but Kim said it was 'too early' to say they would reach a deal+48

 

President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un resumed their summit in Hanoi on Thursday morning local time – as Trump predicted a ‘fantastic success’ but Kim said it was ‘too early’ to say they would reach a deal

Trump once again asserted that he was in 'no rush' to make an agreement – following an early report by NBC that the US was prepared to back away from a demand that North Korea provide a full accounting of its nuclear weapons programs

Trump once again asserted that he was in ‘no rush’ to make an agreement – following an early report by NBC that the US was prepared to back away from a demand that North Korea provide a full accounting of its nuclear weapons programs

Trump said that Kim was willing to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear research facility if the US lifted sanctions, but said Kim was unwilling to make a deal on other facilities and weapons, forcing an end to the talks. 

Trump’s remarks made clear there other sites the U.S. identified that Kim wanted to maintain. 

‘We have that setup so we would be able to do that very easily. The inspections on North Korea will take place, and if we do something with them, we have a schedule setup that is very good. We know things …  about certain places and certain sites. There are sites that people don’t know about that we know about. We would be able to do inspections we think very, very successfully,’ Trump said.

Some critics had raised alarms before the summit that Trump and Kim would reach a deal that did not allow for verification.

Asked whether it was premature to hold the summit now, Trump said he would ‘much rather do it right than do it fast’ and added that he ‘could have signed something today’ but didn’t feel it was the right deal.

But America and North Korea remain in a position ‘to do something very special’ together, he said.

The recognition that no joint statement had been reached came despite weeks of advance negotiation. A range of compromise gestures had been circulating for days in media reports.

The lack of agreement came after Trump repeatedly hailed a ‘special relationship’ between the two men, and stressed their personal bond as a reason progress might be possible.

After the two men’s historic summit in Singapore in June, they both signed a joint statement – although critics blasted it for failing to include a timetable or verification members in its undefined call for denuclearization.

On Thursday afternoon, Sanders suddenly told reporters traveling with the president before 1 pm local time that talks would wrap up within about half an hour, throwing the event’s schedule into turmoil.

She declined to say initial there would be a signing ceremony, though one had been on an earlier White House schedule. Only minutes before Trump was scheduled to face the press did she acknowledge that there would not be one.

But reporters who were on hand to cover it were relocated to buses – indicating that the event was most likely scrapped.

The public White House schedule had listed a ‘Joint Agreement Signing Ceremony’ with the chairman of the state affairs commission of DPRK, set for 2:05 pm local time.

Trump was to have fielded questions at 4 pm, right before leaving Vietnam, but it got moved up to 2 pm.

A planned lunch between the two men was scrapped so they could ‘keep negotiating,’ Bloomberg News reported.

The U.S. dollar and South Korean stock market both fell on the news that no deal had been reached.

The multiple signs of tension came after a public event hours earlier where the two leaders once again smiled for the cameras – and Kim even took a few questions from U.S. media and expressed openness toward a step in normalization of relations.

The North Korean dictator said he is open to the idea of a US liaison office in Pyongyang in a major development during the historic nuclear summit with President Donald Trump.

Kim revealed his stance on the issue – one of several negotiating points in Hanoi – when the absolute leader submitted to a few unscripted questions from American media members.

In another comment, he revealed his stated disposition on denuclearization – although without saying what it would take to get him there.

‘If I was not, I wouldn’t be here,’ he said in his native Korean, while seated alongside Trump.

The two world leaders resumed their summit in Hanoi on Thursday morning local time – as Trump predicted a ‘fantastic success’ but Kim said it was ‘too early’ to say they would reach a deal.

Trump once again asserted that he was in ‘no rush’ to make an agreement – following an early report by NBC that the US was prepared to back away from a demand that North Korea provide a full accounting of its nuclear weapons programs.

‘I think we’ll be together a lot over the years,’ Trump said. ‘I can’t speak for today but over a little bit longer term .. we’re going to have a fantastic success.’

Trump and Jong Un smile during a meeting at the second US-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi 

Trump and Jong Un smile during a meeting at the second US-North Korea summit at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi

Trump listens as he meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday in Hanoi

Trump listens as he meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday in Hanoi

During an exchange with the media, a reporter asked Kim if he was ready for a U.S. liaison office in Pyongyang – considered a step toward normalization of relations. At first a North Korean aide tried to cut him off, but Trump – who has tangled with the press – intervened.

‘That’s actually an interesting question. I would like to actually hear that answer,’ Trump said.

Kim responded: ‘That is something that is welcomeable.’

Trump then said the idea was a ‘great thing.’

A reporter asked Kim in Korean if he was confident of an agreement.  Kim responded in Korean: ”It’s too early to say. I would not say I’m pessimistic.’

‘I have a feeling that good results will come,’ Kim added.

Trump also predicted spending more time with the North Korean dictator.

‘And, I’m sure over the years we’ll be together a lot, and I think we’ll also be together after the fact, meaning after the deal is made. We had very good discussions last night at dinner, and the pre-dinner was very good. And, there were a lot of great ideas being thrown about,’ Trump said.

Trump once again called the relationship between the two men ‘very strong’.

‘So, I can’t speak necessarily for today, but I can say that this, a little bit longer term, and over a period of time, I know we’re going to have a fantastic success with respect to Chairman Kim and North Korea. They’re going to have an economic powerhouse.’

Trump predicted: ‘I think it’s going to be something very special.’

‘I am in no rush. We don’t want the testing, and we’ve developed something very special with respect to that,’ Trump said, without revealing details, as the two men moved toward an expected joint statement.

At one point after their first meeting Wednesday, the two men took a stroll by the hotel pool, with photographers ready to capture the moment

At one point after their first meeting Wednesday, the two men took a stroll by the hotel pool, with photographers ready to capture the moment

They walked along with two interpreters beneath palm trees as Kim greeted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and general and spy chief Kim Yong Chol

They walked along with two interpreters beneath palm trees as Kim greeted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and general and spy chief Kim Yong Chol

They walked along with two interpreters beneath palm trees as Kim greeted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and general and spy chief Kim Yong Chol. Reporters covering the event passed National Security Advisor John Bolton, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, and Trump aide Dan Scavino, who didn’t appear to be joining the second meeting with staff.

Trump was back to trying his hand at diplomacy after the president’s ex-fixer Michael Cohen dominated headlines with his day of bombshell testimony against his former boss.

Cohen’s appearances have shadowed the president’s appearances, and Trump even tweeted to attack his longtime fixer as a ‘liar’ shortly before he delivered bombshell testimony in the Capitol claiming Trump participated in a criminal conspiracy involving the hush payment to Stormy Daniels.

Trump and Kim met for their second time at the French colonial-era Metropole hotel, where they had dined Wednesday night.

Reporters covering the event passed National Security Advisor John Bolton, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, and Trump aide Dan Scavino, who didn't appear to be joining the second meeting with staff

Reporters covering the event passed National Security Advisor John Bolton, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, and Trump aide Dan Scavino, who didn’t appear to be joining the second meeting with staff

Trump's motorcade leaves the J.W. Marriot hotel during the second US-North Korea summit 

Trump’s motorcade leaves the J.W. Marriot hotel during the second US-North Korea summit

The motorcade of Jong Un is driven in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday, ahead of the second summit

The motorcade of Jong Un is driven in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday, ahead of the second summit

Before they sat down, NBC reported the U.S. was no longer insisting as a negotiating position that North Korea provide a ‘full accounting of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs’ – which would amount to a major concession.

Trump hailed ‘a very special relationship’ when he met Kim in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi on Wednesday and said he was satisfied with the pace of talks, despite some criticism they were not moving quickly enough.

‘Great meetings’ and a ‘Very good dialogue,’ Trump said on Twitter after dinner with Kim at the French-colonial-era Metropole hotel while the White House said the two planned to sign a ‘joint agreement’ after further talks on Thursday.

The White House has given no indication of what the signing ceremony might involve, although the two sides’ discussions have included the possibility of a political statement to declare the 1950-53 Korean War over, which some critics see as premature.

They have also discussed partial denuclearization measures, such as allowing inspectors to observe the dismantling of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor, U.S. and South Korean officials say.

Summit day two: North Korea released this picture of Trump shaking hands with dictator Kim Jong Un on the first day of their talks in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Wednesday

Summit day two: North Korea released this picture of Trump shaking hands with dictator Kim Jong Un on the first day of their talks in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Wednesday

All eyes watching: Michael Cohen's 

All eyes watching: Michael Cohen’s

Greeting: Trump and Kim shake hands at the top of their meeting in Hanoi - which was followed by a 'quick dinner'

Greeting: Trump and Kim shake hands at the top of their meeting in Hanoi – which was followed by a ‘quick dinner’

The Hanoi summit was Trump’s second with Kim since an inconclusive meeting in Singapore in June that produced much fanfare but little substance and there had been little sign of concrete progress since.

The U.S. president nevertheless appeared upbeat with Kim even as his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen testified at a congressional hearing in Washington, calling Trump a ‘conman’ who knew in advance about the release of stolen emails aimed at hurting his Democratic rival in the 2016 election campaign.

Facing mounting pressure at home over investigations into Russian meddling in the election, Trump has sought a big win by trying to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for promises of peace and development, a foreign policy goal that has confounded multiple predecessors.

Trump told Kim on Wednesday he felt the first summit was ‘very successful’. ‘Some people would like to see it go quicker; I´m satisfied; you´re satisfied, we want to be happy with what we’re doing.’

The leaders exchanged views at dinner with the aim of achieving comprehensive and ground-breaking results from their summit, Kim’s state news agency KCNA said on Thursday.

‘Sincere and in-depth views were exchanged to bring about a comprehensive and groundbreaking outcome,’ it said.

The two men had met in the Vietnamese capital in front of a bank of six flags from each nation, for the first meeting for the pair since their historic summit in Singapore in June.

‘It’s an honor to be with Chairman Kim. It’s an honor to be together,’ said Trump, who repeatedly praised his counterpart.

The admiration may be mutual. In one remark, Kim praised Trump’s ‘courageous decision’ to open dialogue, according to how his translator recounted it.

In introductory remarks, Trump did much of the talking – and one again dangled the promise of prosperity for North Korea, and addressed critics who noted their initial joint statement was vague and hard to measure.

‘It’s great to be with you. We had a very successful first summit,’ Trump said. ‘I felt it was very successful. Some people would like to see it go quicker. I’m satisfied, you’re satisfied. We want to be happy with what we’re doing.’

‘I thought the first summit was a great success, I think this one hopefully will be equal or greater than the first,’ the president added.

As he has repeatedly, Trump pointed to personal chemistry with the reclusive leader of the family-led one-party dictatorship – although his secretary of state says North Korea is still a nuclear threat, having tested a hydrogen bomb and months ago conducted a skein of missile tests.

‘We made a lot of progress and I think the biggest progress was our relationship is really a good one,’ Trump said.

The two leaders smiled as they were seated before dinner

People walk past a TV broadcasting a news report on a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, in Seoul, South Korea, February 27, 2019

People walk past a TV broadcasting a news report on a meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, in Seoul, South Korea, February 27, 2019

Trump repeatedly hailed the personal relationship between the two men

Trump repeatedly hailed the personal relationship between the two men

Trump complemented a New York Times photographer in one of many asides to Kim

Trump complemented a New York Times photographer in one of many asides to Kim

In a spat with the White House, two reporters who had earlier asked Trump questions were not permitted to witness the start of dinner

In a spat with the White House, two reporters who had earlier asked Trump questions were not permitted to witness the start of dinner

Dangling economic enticements that he hopes will persuade Kim to give up nuclear weapons his nation has been developing for years, Trump said: ‘I think that your country has tremendous economic potential. Unbelievable. Unlimited,’ Trump said, seated across from Kim.

Both men smiled before cameras as they exchanged a handshake.

A reporter asked Trump about former lawyer Michael Cohen’s bombshell testimony in Congress that calls Trump a ‘conman.’ Trump shook his head and didn’t respond.

That may not have gone over well with the White House staff. At a subsequent photo-op, two wire service reporters were excluded, including the one who had asked about Cohen, whose bombshell testimony touched on Stormy Daniels, a Trump Moscow tower project, and Wikileaks.

According to a statement issued by White House press secretary Sarah Sanders: ‘Due to the sensitive nature of the meetings we have limited the pool for the dinner to a smaller group, but ensured that representation of photographers, tv, radio and print Poolers are all in the room. We are continuing to negotiate aspects of this historic summit and will always work to make sure the U.S. media has as much access as possible.’

For that event, the two men were seated at a round table with a floral centerpiece.  Their meal had not yet been served.

Once again, Trump talked up their bond.

‘Our relationship is a very special relationship,’ the president said.

After Kim spoke in Korean, a translator said: ‘They have exchanged very interesting dialogue with each other.’

That prompted a joke from Trump. ‘If you could have heard that dialogue. What you would pay for that dialogue … It was good.’

Then Trump stepped in again. ‘We’re going to have a very busy day tomorrow and we’ll probably have a pretty quick dinner.’

‘And a lot of things are going to be solved I hope. It’ll lead to really a wonderful situation long term. And our relationship is a very special relationship,’ the president said.

Earlier Trump said: ‘It’s great to be with you. We had a very successful first summit. I felt it was very successful. Some people would like to see it go quicker. I’m satisfied, you’re satisfied. We want to be happy with what we’re doing.’

Complimenting their host country, Trump said: ‘It’s an honor to be with Chairman Kim. It’s an honor to be together in really a country, Vietnam, where they’ve really rolled red carpet. And they’re very proud to have us.’

Minutes earlier, as they first met, the two men engaged in brief remarks, then looked ahead toward press photographers with serious expressions on their faces. Eventually they smiled.

Trump and Kim dinedalong with top aides.  Trump said the meal would be a 'pretty quick dinner' 

Trump and Kim dinedalong with top aides.  Trump said the meal would be a ‘pretty quick dinner’

Trump review the guard of honor during a meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong ahead of the US-North Korea summit in Hanoi

Trump review the guard of honor during a meeting with Vietnamese President Nguyen Phu Trong ahead of the US-North Korea summit in Hanoi

President Donald Trump waves a Vietnam flag as he meets with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, waving an American flag 

President Donald Trump waves a Vietnam flag as he meets with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, waving an American flag

DOWN TO BUSINESS: Trump touted a deal for Vietnam to purchase planes. The U.S. trade deficit with the nation has grown by $5 billion since Trump visited two years ago

DOWN TO BUSINESS: Trump touted a deal for Vietnam to purchase planes. The U.S. trade deficit with the nation has grown by $5 billion since Trump visited two years ago

‘Thank you very much,’ Trump told reporters.

Trump began his Hanoi stay by meeting with Nguyen Phu Trong, the president of Vietnam, lavishing praise upon Vietnam for its ‘thriving’ economy and holding out the local economy as a model for North Korea to pursue.

He announced a deal to have Vietnamese airlines purchase U.S.-made planes – even as it continues to ship billions worth of sneakers and shrimp to U.S. ports. Other agreements would bring the total value of the agreements to $21 billion, according to an administration official.

Trump also called the relationship between the U.S. and Vietnam an ‘example’ of what can become of North Korea if it gives up its nuclear weapons. Trump also posed in front of a statue of the nation’s revolutionary founder Ho Chi Min.

Later, Trump smiled and held a Vietnamese flag as he met with the country’s prime minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and inked a series of agreements.

Trump referenced 'my friend' KimJong Un and cited North Korea's economic potential

Trump referenced ‘my friend’ KimJong Un and cited North Korea’s economic potential

The president also attacked his predecessor for failing to solve the North Korea problem, which has bedeviled U.S. policymakers for decades

The president also attacked his predecessor for failing to solve the North Korea problem, which has bedeviled U.S. policymakers for decades

Per capita income in Vietnam is nearly double that in North Korea, $2,400 compared to $1,300, achieving 7 per cent growth and with robust foreign investment and growing trade with the U.S.

South Korea is much farther along the development path, with per capita income of $26,000.

The president is relying on his brand of personal diplomacy to try to score a breakthrough here with Kim, after failing to see progress on denuclearization after a vague letter reached after the Singapore summit.

He has previously said they fell ‘in love’ at their Singapore summit, and has repeatedly stressed that the hermetic regime could become wildly successful if it modernizes and relinquishes its nuclear weapons.

His bid to establish camaraderie with Kim comes despite dark signals that continue to emerge out of the closed society he governs.

Kim forced his uncle to watch colleagues get blown apart with anti-aircraft guns before his own death, according to a defector.

Kang Cheol-Hwan said he was told by eye witnesses that two men who worked with Kim’s uncle, Jang Song-thaek, were killed by firing squad.

The two men were brought in front of a barrage of eight anti-aircraft guns and had lumps of iron stuffed into their mouths before their deaths.

No deal, no problem at Trump-Kim summit: analysts

 

President Trump left the Hanoi summit early, but analysts say the talks with Kim Jung Il were not necessarily a failure

President Trump left the Hanoi summit early, but analysts say the talks with Kim Jung Il were not necessarily a failure

Donald Trump summoned the world’s media to Hanoi for a meeting with Kim Jong Un, travelled the long way around the world to get there, and dangled an “AWESOME” future before the North Korean leader. And they did not agree anything.

That may not be such a bad thing, analysts say — but reaching a deal will take a long time.

Trump and Kim’s Singapore summit — the first-ever encounter between the leaders of two countries on opposite sides of the technically still unfinished Korean War — made global headlines last year.

The agreement they signed, though, was short on specifics, with Kim committing only to a vague promise to “work toward complete denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula”.

Subsequent progress stalled with the two sides disagreeing over what that means, and ahead of the Hanoi meeting analysts expected them to put meat on the bones of the text.

In the event, there was more bonhomie in the Vietnamese capital — a venue chosen partly to symbolise the possibility of a good post-war relationship with the US — but even less in the way of tangible outcomes, with no communique emerging from the summit.

Trump told reporters Kim wanted all sanctions imposed on the North over its weapons programmes lifted before it made any further moves over its Yongbyon nuclear plant and other covert sites, and he had decided to walk away.

“I’d much rather do it right than do it fast,” he added.

At a surprise late-night briefing North Korea’s foreign minister insisted that Pyongyang had only wanted partial sanctions relief in exchange for Yongbyon’s closure, and that its position was “invariable”.

The optics of the stand-off looked poor. But analysts pointed to the meeting as part of a long process, and potentially a necessary one.

“These talks were not a failure,” said David Kim of the Stimson Center.

“Think of the Trump-Kim relationship like a Korean drama,” he went on. “We are just beginning to watch the long love story unfold.”

It would be filled with “excitement, disappointment and utter heartache”, but “the bond between Kim and Trump will remain steadfast to the end.

“As long as both ‘lovers’ remain committed to their relationship, we can expect more positive outcomes in the future.”

– Third date? –

Trump has previously said he and Kim “fell in love” over an exchange of letters, and while no third summit with Kim had been agreed, the White House said working-level talks would continue.

But in his New Year speech, a key political set-piece in the North, Kim said Pyongyang would seek a “new way” to defend its interests if Washington did not offer concessions in return for the steps it has already taken — a missile and nuclear test moratorium, and what it says is the destruction of facilities it no longer needs.

That raises the prospect of Kim turning to neighbour and ally China for succour.

Trump told reporters Kim wanted all sanctions imposed on the North lifted, and he had decided to walk away

Trump told reporters Kim wanted all sanctions imposed on the North lifted, and he had decided to walk away

In and before Hanoi, Trump repeatedly said the North could become an “economic powerhouse” if it gave up its weapons.

The two discussed liaison offices — a vital initial step in normalising relations — and Ankit Panda of the Federation of American Scientists said there were “multiple credible reports an end-of-war declaration was on the table.”

But those were “never the ‘corresponding measures’ North Korea sought”, he added.

Pyongyang will once again have been able to portray itself as Washington’s equal, and Kim as Trump’s — the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper carried a front-page picture Thursday that showed the US president appearing to bow slightly as the pair shook hands.

Former CIA analyst Soo Kim noted that Trump had insisted several times he was in no rush to complete a deal and that with the North not yet prepared to take the steps Washington wanted, the US president “so far looks at ease with this decision”.

But, she told AFP: “This outcome is likely not what the Kim regime had banked on. So it remains to be seen whether after the rug has been pulled from underneath, North Korea will bite again at another opportunity.”

– Waning Moon –

The no-result from Hanoi leaves South Korean President Moon Jae-in — who seized on last year’s Winter Olympics in his country to broker talks between Pyongyang and Washington — in a bind.

Moon had intended to unveil an inter-Korean economic co-operation plan on Friday, said former CIA staffer Kim, the 100th anniversary of a movement against Japanese colonial rule — one issue on which North and South Koreans are in total agreement.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been left in a difficult position by the no-result in Hanoi

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been left in a difficult position by the no-result in Hanoi

Now suggestions of a Kim Jong Un trip to Seoul are likely to go on the back burner, and she said it “remained to be seen” whether Moon would be able to pursue his inter-Korean rapprochement so quickly.

Christopher Green, senior advisor at International Crisis Group, said the outcome was unexpected, “but I don’t think it’s a disaster and it doesn’t end the dialogue process”.

“There will have to be some re-booting and I would expect after a period of relative quiet that lower level talks will begin again,” he added.

But while Trump has his eye on next year’s US presidential election — and is said to want a Nobel Peace Prize — Kim is the third generation of his family to rule the North and undoubtedly expects to remain in power for decades.

And Ri said the North’s stance would “never” change in any future negotiations.

“These talks will take a long time and will far outlive this presidency,” said David Kim.

“Patience is a virtue.”

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-6755679/No-deal-no-problem-Trump-Kim-summit-analysts.html

 

http://www.crs.gov | 7-5700
Updated January 29, 2019
North Korea’s Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Programs
Overview
North Korea has made rapid advancements in its nuclear
weapons and ballistic missile programs. Since Kim Jong-un
came to power in 2012, North Korea has conducted over 80
ballistic missile test launches. In 2016, North Korea
conducted two nuclear weapons tests and 26 ballistic
missile flight tests on a variety of platforms. In 2017, North
Korea test launched 18 ballistic missiles (with five failures),
including two launches in July and another in November
that many ascribe as ICBM tests (intercontinental ballistic
missiles). It last conducted a nuclear test in September
2017. The North Korean leader pledged to work toward
“complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” in the
U.S.-DPRK Singapore Summit statement. In its 2019
assessment to Congress, the DNI said that “North Korea is
unlikely to give up all of its nuclear weapons and
production capabilities, even as it seeks to negotiate partial
denuclearization steps to obtain key US and international
concessions.”
Despite the absence of any missile launch activity or
nuclear tests in 2018, previous tests and official North
Korean statements suggest that North Korea is striving to
build a credible regional nuclear warfighting capability that
might evade regional ballistic missile defenses. Such an
approach likely reinforces their deterrent and coercive
diplomacy strategy—lending more credibility as it
demonstrates capability—but it also raises serious questions
about crisis stability and escalation control. Congress may
further examine these advances’ possible effects on U.S.
policy.
Nuclear Tests
On September 3, 2017, North Korea announced that it had
tested a hydrogen bomb (or two-stage thermonuclear
warhead) that it said it was perfecting for delivery on an
intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korea has tested a
nuclear explosive device five other times since 2006.
According to U.S. and international estimates, each test
produced underground blasts that were progressively higher
in magnitude and estimated yield. According to the North
Korean test announcement, the country had achieved
“perfect success in the test of a hydrogen bomb for
intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).” In early 2018,
North Korea announced that it had achieved its goals and
would no longer conduct nuclear tests and would close
down its test site. It dynamited the entrances to two test
tunnels in May prior to the Trump-Kim summit. Kim Jong
Un told Secretary Pompeo in an October meeting that he
“invited inspectors to visit the Punggye Ri nuclear test site
to confirm that it has been irreversibly dismantled.” Such an
inspection has not yet occurred.
Nuclear Material Production
North Korea continues to produce fissile material
(plutonium and highly enriched uranium) for weapons.
North Korea restarted its plutonium production facilities
after it withdrew from a nuclear agreement in 2009, and is
operating at least one centrifuge enrichment plant at its
Yongbyon nuclear complex. During the September 2018
North-South Pyongyang Summit, the North stated its
willingness to “permanently disable” the Yongbyon
facilities if the United States took “corresponding
measures.” U.S. officials have said that it is likely other
clandestine enrichment facilities exist. Open-source
reports, citing U.S. government sources, in July 2018
identified one such site at Kangson.
There is no public U.S. Intelligence Community (IC)
consensus of North Korea’s fissile material stockpiles.
News reports in August 2017 said that one component of
the IC, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), had
estimated a stockpile of up to 60 nuclear warheads.
Nongovernmental open source estimates are based on
material production activities at the Yongbyon site as well
as past stockpile estimates. Some experts believe that North
Korea could have potentially produced enough material for
13-21 nuclear weapons, and that North Korea could now
potentially produce enough nuclear material for an
additional 7 warheads per year.
Doctrine
North Korean statements, taken at face value, appear to
describe North Korea’s nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to the
U.S. “nuclear war threats.” In his 2017 New Year’s address,
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stated that the North had
“achieved the status of a nuclear power,” and promised to
continue to “build up our self-defense capability, the pivot
of which is the nuclear forces, and the capability for
preemptive strike … to defend peace and security of our
state.” Kim also said at the 2016 Workers’ Party Congress
that North Korea “will not use a nuclear weapon unless its
sovereignty is encroached upon by an aggressive hostile
force with nukes.” The statement also said that the “nuclear
weapons of the DPRK can be used only by a final order of
the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army
(Kim Jong Un) to repel invasion or attack from a hostile
nuclear weapons state and make retaliatory strikes.”
The U.S. intelligence community has characterized the
purpose of North Korean nuclear weapons as intended for
“deterrence, international prestige, and coercive
diplomacy.” In its 2019 assessment to Congress, the DNI
said that “North Korean leaders view nuclear arms as
critical to regime survival.”
North Korea’s Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Programs
http://www.crs.gov | 7-5700
Warheads and Delivery Systems
According to the U.S. intelligence community, the prime
objective of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is to
develop a nuclear warhead that is “miniaturized,” or
sufficiently lighter and smaller to be mounted on long-range
ballistic missiles. One of the most acute near-term threats to
other nations may be from the medium-range Nodong
missile, which could reach all of the Korean Peninsula and
some of mainland Japan. Outside the intelligence
community, U.S. officials have articulated conflicting
assessments of North Korea’s ability to produce a nuclear
warhead for its intercontinental-range missiles. The
intelligence community believes that North Korea has an
ICBM capability, but that neither North Korea nor the
United States knows whether that capability will work.
A December 2015 Department of Defense (DOD) report, as
well as the intelligence community’s 2018 worldwide threat
assessment, said that “North Korea is committed to
developing a long-range nuclear-armed missile that is
capable of posing a direct threat to the United States.” The
DOD report outlined two hypothetical ICBMs on which
North Korea could mount a nuclear warhead and deliver to
the continental United States: the KN-08 and the
Taepodong-2, which was the base rocket for the Unha-2
space launch vehicle. North Korea has paraded what are
widely considered mock-ups or engineering models of the
KN-08 and KN-14 ICBMs. In 2016, the intelligence
community assessed that “North Korea has already taken
initial steps toward fielding this [ICBM] system, although
the system has not been flight-tested.” In July 2017, the
DPRK conducted what most have now assessed as two
ICBM tests.
In December 2012, North Korea launched an Unha-3 to
deliver a satellite into space. The DOD noted that although
this space launch vehicle “contributes heavily to North
Korea’s long-range ballistic missile development,” the
country did not test a reentry vehicle (RV), and absent an
effective RV, “North Korea cannot deliver a weapon to
target from an ICBM.” North Korea launched the Unha-3
again in February 2016, placing a satellite into earth orbit.
Some observers assert that the Unha-3 could be used as an
ICBM, but no other country has deployed a space launch
vehicle as a nuclear-armed ICBM or developed an ICBM
from the technology base of a space launch program alone.
Recent static engine tests of a large rocket engine in late
2016 and early 2017 suggest to some progress in their
ICBM program, and to others progress in developing a
larger space launch vehicle.
North Korea has demonstrated limited but growing success
in its medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) program and
its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test
program. Moreover, North Korea appears to be making
some progress in moving slowly toward solid rocket motors
for its ballistic missiles. Solid fuel is a chemically more
stable option that also allows for reduced reaction and
reload times. Successful tests of the Pukguksong-2 (KN-15)
solid fuel MRBM in 2017 led North Korea to announce it
would now mass produce those missiles.
Since the June 2018 Singapore Summit, reports have
surfaced showing the dismantlement of a rocket engine test
stand at the Sohae satellite launch complex. Although the
test stand could be rebuilt, some observers see this as a
positive development toward denuclearization while others
have suggested the stand was no longer needed for liquidfuel engines, as North Korea may be opting instead to test
and deploy solid rocket motors for their missiles. There
have also been reports that North Korea may now be
producing liquid-fueled ICBMs at another facility outside
the North Korean capital, but other experts point out
developments there are not yet clear. Other observers note
that closing a test stand would not prevent mass production
of current designs.
Mobile ballistic missiles, which North Korea is developing,
and other measures also reduce U.S. detection abilities.
These things together suggest that their test program may
be more than just for show or to make a political
statement—that it may be intended to increase the
reliability, effectiveness, and survivability of their ballistic
missile force. North Korea has increased ballistic missile
testing in recent years. These tests have demonstrated
growing success and, coupled with increased operational
training exercises, suggest a pattern designed to strengthen
the credibility of North Korea’s regional nuclear deterrent
strategy.
A recent focus in North Korea’s ballistic missile test
program appears to be directed at developing a capability to
defeat or degrade the effectiveness of missile defenses, such
as Patriot, Aegis BMD, and THAAD, all of which are or
will be deployed in the region. Some of the 2016 missile
tests were lofted to much higher altitudes and shorter ranges
than an optimal ballistic trajectory. On reentry, a warhead
from such a launch would come in at a much steeper angle
of attack and at much faster speed to its intended target,
making it potentially more difficult to intercept with missile
defenses. North Korea has demonstrated in 2017 the ability
to launch a salvo attack with more than one missile
launched in relatively short order. This is consistent with a
possible goal of being able to conduct large ballistic missile
attacks with large raid sizes, a capability that could make it
more challenging for a missile defense system to destroy
each incoming warhead. Finally, North Korea’s progress
with SLBMs might suggest an effort to counter land-based
THAAD missile defenses by launching attacks from
positions at sea that are outside the THAAD system’s radar
field of view, but not necessarily outside the capabilities of
Aegis BMD systems deployed in the region.
Taken together, North Korea’s progress in nuclear testing,
its declared standardization of warhead designs and
potential to put those warheads on MRBMs, increased
confidence in the reliability of its short-range missile, and
efforts seemingly designed to degrade regional ballistic
missile defense systems suggest that North Korea may be
building a credible regional nuclear warfighting and ICBM
nuclear deterrent capability.
Mary Beth D. Nikitin, mnikitin@crs.loc.gov, 7-7745
IF10472

Story 3: United States Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) Grew At 2.9% in 2018 and Advance Estimate of 2.6 % in the fourth quarter of 2018 — Videos

US GDP grows at 2.6% in Q4

U.S. Economy Grew 2.6% In Q4 2018

Falling Short Of His Biggest Economic Promise

U.S. GDP Underwhelms

US Q4 GDP Thursday

J.P. Morgan Cuts U.S. Fourth-Quarter 2018 GDP View After Dismal Retail Sales

What is Gross Domestic Product (GDP)?

Nominal vs. Real GDP

The U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Trump and GOP promised economic growth much better than Obama’s. That’s not what happened

 | 
KEY POINTS
  • Throughout the 2016 campaign and since, the president and his party have vowed to kick-start tepid Obama-era economic growth.
  • New government data show that Trump, too, has failed to reach the 3 percent promised land, according to one major metric.
  • The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis measured 2018 growth at 2.9 percent, matching the peak Obama enjoyed in 2015.
  • For the rest of the president’s term, economic forecasters agree, that number will decline.

GDP grew at 2.6% in Q4—Here’s what five market experts are watching now

President Donald Trump’s central claim about his economic policies officially crashed into reality on Thursday.

Throughout the 2016 campaign and since, the president and his party have vowed to kick-start tepid Obama-era economic growth. Specifically, they insisted tax cuts and deregulation would return growth to its post-World War II average of 3 percent — a level, candidate Trump said derisively, that President Barack Obama became “the first president in modern history” never to reach in a single year.

New government data on Thursday morning show that Trump, too, has failed to reach the 3 percent promised land, according to one major metric. The Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis measured 2018 growth at 2.9 percent, matching the peak Obama enjoyed in 2015.

By that measure, the economy grew 3.1 percent. But Obama, too, reached 3 percent growth on a four-quarter basis four different times.

Where Obama failed to enjoy 3 percent annual growth was on the BEA’s official annual number. His 2015 peak was 2.9 percent, like Trump’s for 2018. Thursday’s preliminary 2.9 percent figure could later be revised, although economist Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics said the most likely direction would be down.

For the rest of the president’s term, economic forecasters agree, that number will decline.

“2018 will be the high-water mark for growth in the Trump administration,” Zandi predicted. He expects the decade-old economic expansion will shrink to 1.1 percent growth in 2020, with a better-than-even chance of recession.

The Next Recession: Mark Zandi says corporate debt could cause ‘reckoning’ in 2020

For the 21st century economy, 2.9 percent represents strong performance in any event. Not since 2005, during George W. Bush’s presidency, has America seen a full-year expansion of 3 percent or more. Moreover, 2018 marked the second consecutive year that growth accelerated by six-tenths of a percentage point from 1.6 percent in Obama’s final year in office.

GOP’s hollow campaign pledge

Economically, that falls short of the upgrade Team Trump pledged. Politically, it demonstrates the hollowness of a core GOP campaign theme.

The theme hardly originated with Trump. Announcing his presidential candidacy in 2015, then-frontrunner Jeb Bush blamed Democratic policies for “the slowest economic recovery ever” and identified the solution as tax cuts and deregulation.

“There is not a reason in the world why we cannot grow at a rate of 4 percent of year,” Bush declared.

Obama’s economic advisers cited two big reasons: sluggish worker productivity and shrinking labor supply as baby boomers retire. Those factors, they argued, limited potential growth to a long-term average of 2 percent.

Trump, with characteristic grandiosity, dismissed that argument and outbid Bush. “We think it could be 5 or even 6” percent, he said.

His economic advisers remained more cautious. But they cast sustained growth of 3 percent or more, driven by new, productivity-boosting business investment, as the floor beneath their strategy for making Americans better off and protecting the federal budget.

“The foundation for the plan is 3 percent growth,” budget director Mick Mulvaney told Congress. “In fact, that IS Trumponomics.”

Women have returned to the labor force and it’s helping drive wages higher
‘Abracadabra,’ Obama

Growth ticked up in 2017 to 2.2 percent, though that rate fell below what the Congressional Budget Office had forecast before Trump’s election. As the president took steps toward deregulation, Republican allies in Congress called tax cuts critical to achieving their 3 percent goal.

The tax cuts passed in December 2017. And when growth surged to 4.2 percent in the second quarter of 2018, the White House declared victory.

“We’re on track to reach the highest annualized growth in 13 years,” the president assured reporters.

“Remember when Obama said you need a magic wand to make that happen?” Donald Trump Jr. told Breitbart. “Well ‘abracadabra,’ Obama. We’re doing it.”

In fact, growth in a single quarter had topped 4.2 percent four different times during the Obama administration. A broad range of analysts had forecast that a deficit-financed tax-cut would stimulate short-term boost beginning in 2018.

Yet even as 3rd quarter growth slowed to 3.4 percent, White House advisers reiterated their confidence. In July, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin called the U.S. “well on the path” for four to five years of sustained 3 percent growth.

In December, top White House economist Kevin Hassett sounded the same note while acknowledging a slowdown in business investment. “We’re definitely going to be at 3 or above 3” for both 2018 and 2019, he told CNBC.

Thursday’s BEA data show otherwise. Growth kept falling in the fourth quarter, to 2.6 percent. The increase in business investment has continued to taper.

Having predicted growth of “substantially over 3 percent,” former National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, has blamed Trump’s trade tariffs for offsetting the boost from the tax cut. But the White House and its allies lacked credible evidence for their growth claim to begin with.

“The 3 percent long-term projection was always a stretch in light of the demographic headwinds,” Harvard’s Greg Mankiw, who chaired the Council of Economic Advisers for President Bush, told CNBC.

Justin Wolfers: Biggest risk to strong U.S. economy is Trump in the White House

That doesn’t mean the White House agenda won’t have long-term benefits. But Republican economist Doug Holtz-Eakin, a former Bush adviser and CBO director, says determining its impact will take years.

“The real question is how much the trend has improved: are we decelerating to 2.5 percent instead of 2.0 percent?” asked Holtz-Eakin. “The test of the Trump administration policies will be their impact on productivity growth, and the data are not yet in.”

Meantime, economists at CBO and the Federal Reserve have cut their forecasts for 2019 growth to 2.3 percent. For the long-term, both project growth below 2 percent.

Correction: This story was revised to correct a summary that should have said the Bureau of Economic Analysis measured 2018 growth at 2.9 percent, matching the peak Obama enjoyed in 2015. It also was updated to reflect other measures of GDP growth.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/28/trumps-economic-policies-failed-to-deliver-promised-3percent-growth-in-2018.html

 

EMBARGOED UNTIL RELEASE AT 8:30 A.M. EST, Thursday, February 28, 2019
BEA 19-05

Gross Domestic Product, Fourth Quarter and Annual 2018 (Initial Estimate)

Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018 (table 1), according to the “initial” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 3.4 percent.

Due to the recent partial government shutdown, this initial report for the fourth quarter and annual GDP for 2018 replaces the release of the “advance” estimate originally scheduled for January 30th and the “second” estimate originally scheduled for February 28th. See the Technical Note for details.

The Bureau emphasized that the fourth-quarter initial estimate released today is based on source data that are incomplete or subject to further revision by the source agency (see “Source Data for the Initial Estimate” on page 3). Updated estimates for the fourth quarter, based on more complete data, will be released on March 28, 2019.

Real GDP: Percent change from preceding quarterThe increase in real GDP in the fourth quarter reflected positive contributions from personal consumption expenditures (PCE), nonresidential fixed investment, exports, private inventory investment, and federal government spending. Those were partly offset by negative contributions from residential fixed investment, and state and local government spending. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased (table 2).

The deceleration in real GDP growth in the fourth quarter reflected decelerations in private inventory investment, PCE, and federal government spending and a downturn in state and local government spending. These movements were partly offset by an upturn in exports and an acceleration in nonresidential fixed investment. Imports increased less in the fourth quarter than in the third quarter.

Current dollar GDP increased 4.6 percent, or $233.2 billion, in the fourth quarter to a level of $20.89 trillion. In the third quarter, current-dollar GDP increased 4.9 percent, or $246.3 billion (table 1 and table 3).

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of 1.8 percent in the third quarter (table 4). The PCE price index increased 1.5 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.7 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent.

Personal Income (table 8)

Current-dollar personal income increased $225.1 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of $190.6 billion in the third quarter. The acceleration in personal income reflected an upturn in farm proprietors’ income and accelerations in personal dividend income and personal interest income. Compensation of employees decelerated.

Disposable personal income increased $218.7 billion, or 5.7 percent, in the fourth quarter, compared with an increase of $160.9 billion, or 4.2 percent, in the third quarter. Real disposable personal income increased 4.2 percent, compared with an increase of 2.6 percent.

Personal saving was $1.06 trillion in the fourth quarter, compared with $996.0 billion in the third quarter. The personal saving rate — personal saving as a percentage of disposable personal income — was 6.7 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with 6.4 percent in the third quarter.

Updates to third quarter GDI

For the third quarter of 2018, the percent change in real GDI was revised from 4.3 percent to 4.6 percent based on newly available tabulations from the BLS Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program.

2018 GDP

Real GDP increased 2.9 percent in 2018 (from the 2017 annual level to the 2018 annual level), compared with an increase of 2.2 percent in 2017 (table 1).

The increase in real GDP in 2018 primarily reflected positive contributions from PCE, nonresidential fixed investment, exports, federal government spending, private inventory investment, and state and local government spending that were slightly offset by a small negative contribution from residential fixed investment. Imports, which are a subtraction in the calculation of GDP, increased (table 2).

The acceleration in real GDP from 2017 to 2018 primarily reflected accelerations in nonresidential fixed investment, private inventory investment, federal government spending, exports, and PCE, and an upturn in state and local government spending that were partly offset by a downturn in residential investment.

Current-dollar GDP increased 5.2 percent, or $1.02 trillion, in 2018 to a level of $20.50 trillion, compared with an increase of 4.2 percent, or $778.2 billion, in 2017 (table 1 and table 3).

The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.2 percent in 2018, compared with an increase of 1.9 percent in 2017 (table 4). The PCE price index increased 2.0 percent, compared with an increase of 1.8 percent. Excluding food and energy prices, the PCE price index increased 1.9 percent, compared with an increase of 1.6 percent (table 4).

During 2018 (measured from the fourth quarter of 2017 to the fourth quarter of 2018), real GDP increased 3.1 percent, compared with an increase of 2.5 percent during 2017. The price index for gross domestic purchases increased 2.1 percent during 2018, compared with an increase of 1.9 percent during 2017.

Source Data for the Initial Estimate

Information on the source data and key assumptions used for unavailable source data in the initial estimate is provided in a Technical Note that is posted with the news release on BEA’s Web site. A detailed “Key Source Data and Assumptions” file is also posted for each release. For information on updates to GDP, see the “Additional Information” section that follows.

*          *          *

Next release, March 28, 2019 at 8:30 A.M. EST
Gross Domestic Product, Fourth Quarter 2018
Corporate Profits, Fourth Quarter 2018

https://www.bea.gov/news/2019/initial-gross-domestic-product-4th-quarter-and-annual-2018

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1214, February 22, 2019, Story 1: President Trump Surviving, Thriving and Winning Against Political Elitist Establishment and Big Lie Media Mob — American People vs. Political Elitist Establishment — Videos — Story 2: Exposing, Investigating and Prosecuting The Plotters of The Greatest Political Scandal in United States History — Constitutional Crisis — Videos

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Story 1: President Trump Surviving, Thriving and Winning Against Political Elitist Establishment and Big Lie Media Mob — American People vs. Political Elitist Establishment — Videos —

Victor Davis Hanson February 19, 2019

Historian Victor Davis Hanson on why he supports Trump

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By VICTOR DAVIS HANSON
February 21, 2019 11:12 AM

President Donald Trump speaks at the White House in Washington, D.C., February 19, 2019. (Jim Young/REUTERS)

The administrative state took aim at Trump, but it has not been able to destroy him
No one in Washington called Donald J. Trump a “god” (as journalist Evan Thomas in 2009 had suggested of Obama) when he arrived in January 2017. No one felt nerve impulses in his leg when Trump talked, as journalist Chris Matthews once remarked had happened to him after hearing an Obama speech. And no newsman or pundit cared how crisply creased were Trump’s pants, at least in the manner that New York Times columnist David Brooks had once praised Obama’s sartorial preciseness. Instead, Trump was greeted by the Washington media and intellectual establishment as if he were the first beast in the Book of Revelation, who arose “out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.”

Besides the Washington press and pundit corps, Donald Trump faced a third and more formidable opponent: the culture of permanent and senior employees of the federal and state governments, and the political appointees in Washington who revolve in and out from business, think tanks, lobbying firms, universities, and the media. Or as the legal scholar of the administrative state Philip Hamburger put it: “Although the United States remains a republic, administrative power creates within it a very different sort of government. The result is a state within the state — an administrative state within the Constitution’s United States.”

Since the U.S. post-war era, the growth of American state and federal government has been enormous. By 2017, there were nearly 3 million civilian federal workers, and another 1.3 million Americans in the uniformed military. Over 22 million local, state, and federal workers had made government the largest employment sector.

The insidious power of the unelected administrative state is easy to understand. After all, it governs the most powerful aspects of modern American life: taxes, surveillance, criminal-justice proceedings, national security, and regulation. The nightmares of any independent trucker or small-business person are being audited by the IRS, having communications surveilled, or being investigated by a government regulator or prosecutor.

The reach of the deep state ultimately is based on two premises. One, improper government-worker behavior is difficult to audit or at least to be held to account, given that it is protected by both union contracts and civil-service law. And, two, a government appointee or bureaucrat has the unlimited resources of the state behind him, while the targeted private citizen in a federal indictment, tax audit, or regulation violation not only does not, but is assumed also not to have the means even to provide an adequate legal defense.

In theory, the deep state should have been a nonpartisan meritocratic cadre of government officials who were custodians of a civil service that had often served Americans well and transcended changes in presidential administrations. The ranks of top government regulators, justices, executive officers, and bureaucrats would take advice, and often be drawn, from hallowed, supposedly apolitical East Coast institutions — the World Bank, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Federal Reserve, Ivy League faculties, Wall Street, and blue-chip Washington and New York law firms.

In fact, the deep state grew increasingly political, progressive, and internationalist. Its members and cultural outlook were shaped by the good life on the two coasts and abroad. And every four or eight years, it usually greeted not so much incoming Republican or Democratic presidents as much as fusion-party representatives with reputable résumés, past memberships in similar organizations, and outlooks identical to its own.

Then the disrupter Trump crashed in.

While the deep state was far too vast to be stereotypically monolithic in the Obama and Trump years, it was a general rule that it had admired Obama, who grew it, and it now loathed Trump, who promised to shrink it. Moreover, Trump did not, like most incoming and outgoing politicians, praise in Pavlovian fashion the institutions of Washington. Nothing to Trump was sacred. During and after the campaign, he blasted the CIA, the FBI, the IRS, and Department of Justice as either incompetent or prejudicial.

When Trump cited the Department of Veterans Affairs, it was to side with its victims, not its administrators or venerable history. In Trump’s mind, the problem with federal agencies was not just that they overreached and were weaponized, but that their folds of bureaucracy led to incompetency.

Trump was not so much critical as ignorant of the deep state’s rules and its supposed sterling record of stable governance. Trump proved willing to fire lifelong public servants. He ignored sober and judicious advice from Washington “wise men.” He appointed “crazy” outsiders skeptical of establishment institutions. He purged high government of its progressive activists. And he embraced deep-state heresies and blasphemies such as considering tariffs, questioning NATO, doubting the efficacy of NAFTA, whining about federal judges, and jawboning interest rates. He also left vacant key offices on the theory that one less deep-state voice was one less critic, and one less obstacle to undoing the Obama record.

In the meantime, establishment institutions provided the seasoned opposition to almost everything Trump did. They were likely the “senior officials” to whom an anonymous New York Times op-ed writer referred when he talked about an ongoing “resistance” inside the government to thwart the Trump agenda. In the conservative old days, a Republican president could call upon New York and Washington pundits and insiders — in the present generation, names such as David Brooks, David Frum, Bill Kristol, Bret Stephens, or George Will — for kitchen-cabinet advice. But now they were among Trump’s fiercest critics. Only in the matter of judicial appointments could Trump find seasoned and experienced conservatives eager to be appointed or advanced, and respected organizations such as the Federalist Society eager to help him ensure conservative justices.

As an initial result, Obama holdovers lingered everywhere in the executive branch and cabinet offices. They had no immediate desire to leave when obstruction, if caught, only won accolades. Almost immediately, Trump’s private phone calls with foreign leaders such as Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto and Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull were leaked to the press and appeared as transcripts in the Washington Post.

In the 1970s, the military officer corps and the top ranks of the CIA, DOJ, and FBI were, in the eyes of the Left, synonymous with conspiracies like those in Seven Days in May and The Manchurian Candidate. Yet in 2016, these same institutions had been recalibrated by progressives as protectors of social justice against interlopers and bomb throwers such as Donald Trump. Whether it was scary or needed to have a secretive, unelected cabal inside the White House subverting presidential agendas depended on who was president.

During the Robert Mueller investigations, progressives usually defended the FISA-court-ordered intercepts of private citizens’ communications, despite the machinations taken to deceive FISA-court justices. Indeed, liberal critics suggested that to question how the multitude of conflicts of interest at the Obama DOJ and FBI had warped their presentations of the Steele dossier to the courts was in itself an obstruction of justice or downright unpatriotic.

News of FBI informants planted into the 2016 Trump campaign raised no eyebrows. Nor did the unmasking and leaking of the names of U.S. citizens by members of the Obama National Security Council. Former CIA director John Brennan and former director of national intelligence James Clapper soon became progressive pundits on cable news. While retaining their security clearances, they blasted Trump variously as a Russian mole, a foreign asset, treasonous, and a veritable traitor.

Both became liberal icons, despite their lucrative merry-go-rounds between Washington businesses and government service, and they sometimes lied under oath to Congress about all that and more.

On March 17, John Brennan, in objection to the firing of deputy director of the FBI, Andrew McCabe (who shortly would be found by the nonpartisan inspector general to have lied on four occasions to federal investigators, and was soon reportedly in legal jeopardy from a grand-jury investigation), tweeted about the current president of the United States: “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude, and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history . . . America will triumph over you.”

In mid April, Brennan followed up with another attack on Trump: “Your kakistocracy [rule of the “worst people”] is collapsing after its lamentable journey. As the greatest Nation history has known, we have the opportunity to emerge from this nightmare stronger & more committed to ensuring a better life for all Americans, including those you have so tragically deceived.”

If such hysterics from the former head of the world’s premier spy agency and current MSNBC/NBC pundit seemed a near threat to a sitting president, then Samantha Power, former U.N. ambassador and a past ethics professor on the Harvard faculty, sort of confirmed that it really was: “Not a good idea to piss off John Brennan.”

Trump was warned by friends, enemies, and neutrals that his fight against the deep state was suicidal. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, just a few days before Trump’s inauguration, cheerfully forecast (in a precursor to Samantha Power’s later admonition) what might happen to Trump once he attacked the intelligence services: “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.”

Former administrative-state careerists were not shy about warning Trump of what was ahead. The counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd, who had worked in the CIA and the FBI under Robert Mueller, warned CNN host Jake Tapper in August 2017 that “the government is going to kill” President Donald Trump. Kill? And what was the reason the melodramatic Mudd adduced for his astounding prediction? “Because he doesn’t support them.” Mudd then elaborated: “Let me give you one bottom line as a former government official. The government is going to kill this guy. The government is going to kill this guy because he doesn’t support them.” Mudd further clarified his assassination metaphor: “What I’m saying is government — people talk about the deep state — when you disrespect government officials who’ve done 30 years, they’re going to say, ‘Really?’”

It was difficult to ascertain to what degree Mudd was serious or exaggerating the depth of deep-state loathing of Trump.

Despite the predictions and expectations of nearly everyone associated with the establishment, in the first two years of his presidency, Trump has not resigned. He has not been impeached. He has not been indicted. He has not died or been declared non compos mentis. Trump did not govern as a liberal, as some of his Never Trump critics predicted. He had not been driven to seclusion by lurid exposés of his womanizing a decade earlier as a Manhattan television celebrity.

An administrative state, swamp, deep state, call it what you wish, was wrong about Trump’s nomination, his election, and his governance. It was right only in its warnings that he could be crude and profane, with a lurid past and an ethical necropolis of skeletons in his closet — a fact long ago factored and baked into his supporters’ votes.

At each stage, the erroneous predictions of the deep state prompted ever greater animus at a target that it could not quite understand, much less derail, and so far has not been able to destroy. By autumn 2018, the repetitive nightly predictions of cable-news pundits that the latest presidential controversy was a “bombshell,” or marked a “turning point,” or offered proof that “the walls were closing in,” or ensured that “impeachment was looming on the horizon,” had amounted to little more than monotonous and scripted groupthink.

Never before in the history of the presidency had a commander in chief earned the antipathy of the vast majority of the media, much of the career establishments of both political parties, the majority of the holders of the nation’s accumulated personal wealth, and the permanent federal bureaucracy.

3
And lived to tell the tale.

–This essay is adapted from Mr. Hanson’s new book, The Case for Trump, which Basic Books will publish in March.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won. @vdhanson

https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2019/03/11/survival-at-the-white-house/

Story 2: Exposing, Investigating and Prosecuting The Plotters of The Greatest Political Scandal in United States History — Constitutional Crisis — Videos

Conrad Black explains his defence of Trump

The Unprecedented President Trump

Black on Trump

Conrad Black – The ‘Civil War’ in the American Media

Conversations with Conrad – EXTENDED Mark Steyn Interview

Conrad Black: Black on Red, White and Blue

Conrad Black’s first public outing

The Fall of Conrad Black (2007)

The Greatest Constitutional Crisis Since the Civil War

By | February 21st, 2019

The most immense and dangerous public scandal in American history is finally cracking open like a ripe pomegranate. The broad swath of the Trump-hating media that has participated in what has amounted to an unconstitutional attempt to overthrow the government are reduced to reporting the events and revelations of the scandal in which they have been complicit, in a po-faced ho-hum manner to impart to the misinformed public that this is as routine as stock market fluctuations or the burning of an American flag in Tehran.

For more than two years, the United States and the world have had two competing narratives: that an elected president of the United States was a Russian agent whom the Kremlin helped elect; and its rival narrative that senior officials of the Justice Department, FBI, CIA, and other national intelligence organizations had repeatedly lied under oath, misinformed federal officials, and meddled in partisan political matters illegally and unconstitutionally and had effectively tried to influence the outcome of a presidential election, and then undo its result by falsely propagating the first narrative. It is now obvious and indisputable that the second narrative is the correct one.

The authors, accomplices, and dupes of this attempted overthrow of constitutional government are now well along in reciting their misconduct without embarrassment or remorse because—in fired FBI Director James Comey’s formulation—a “higher duty” than the oath they swore to uphold the Constitution compelled them. Or—in fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s words—“the threat” was too great. Nevermind that the nature of “the threat” was that the people might elect someone he and Comey disapproved of as president, and that that person might actually serve his term, as elected.

A Long List of Offenders—and Offenses
The extent of the criminal misconduct of the former law enforcement and intelligence chiefs is now notorious, but to make the right point here, it has to be summarized. The fact that the officially preferred candidate lied to federal officials about her emails and acted in outright contempt of Congress and the legal process in the destruction of evidence, was simply ignored by the FBI director, who announced that she would not be prosecuted, though he had no authority to make that determination.

The dossier of salacious gossip and defamatory falsehoods amassed by a retired British spy from the lowest grade of intelligence sources in Russia, commissioned and paid for by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee, was circulated to the media by high public officials and cited in illegal and dishonest applications to authorize surveillance of the campaign of the other presidential candidate. A special counsel was empowered on the false pretext of the necessity to get to the bottom of Trump-Russian collusion in the election, of which there was and remains no evidence, because it did not occur and was a complete partisan fabrication.

The special counsel then packed his staff with militant Clinton partisans, and acted very late and only when his hand was forced by the media to remove two officials who referred in texts to each other to the Bureau’s ability to smear and provoke the impeachment of the winning candidate as “an insurance policy” against his filling the office to which he was elected.

Large sections of the media colluded with the Democratic campaign and produced the doctrine that anything was justifiable, no matter how dishonest, to destroy the incoming president’s reputation and damage him in public opinion polls to legitimize attempts to remove him from office. Large sections of the media deliberately deluged the public with stories they knew to be false about the new president and referred to him in terms of unprecedented vituperation in what purported to be reportage and not comment.

This unorganized but widespread campaign of defamation was taken up by a great number of ordinarily newsworthy celebrities and was accompanied by false, unresearched stories denigrating President Trump’s supporters, such as the false claims about Catholic school students’ treatment of an elderly native American and the false claim that actor Jussie Smollett had been beaten up and reviled by Trump supporters. The former intelligence chiefs of the nation under President Obama repeatedly have accused this president of treason, the most heinous of all crimes, and have asserted with the authority of their former positions that the Russians determined the result of the 2016 presidential election. They knew this to be entirely false.

The special counsel has failed to find any evidence of the collusion and electoral interference that was the justification for establishing his inquiry, and the Democrats are already expressing disappointment in his failure to produce such evidence when the leading Democratic members of congressional investigative committees still robotically claim to have at least prima facie evidence of such collusion.

The dishonest attempt of much of the opposition and what even left-leaning media-monitoring organizations record as 90 percent of the national media, continued for more than two years to try to condition the country to believe that the president had committed the “high crimes and misdemeanors” required by the Constitution for impeachment and removal from office.

The special counsel, apart from smearing the president, distracted public attention from or tended to justify the ever more evident misconduct of the president’s enemies. And we now know that Comey, despite his “higher duty,” lied to the president about his not being a target of an FBI investigation, illegally leaked to the New York Times the contents of a self-serving memo he purloined from the government, and lied to Congress by claiming 245 times in one sitting to be ignorant of recent matters that no one of sound mind could have forgotten.

And now we have Andrew McCabe’s proud confirmation that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein not only continued the illegal counterintelligence investigation of President Trump, but actively discussed methods of securing his removal from office by deliberate misuse of a variety of laws, including the Emoluments Clause, the 25th Amendment to deal with mental incompetence, and the Logan Act of 1799, which has never been used successfully and has not been tested in 150 years.

Make Those Responsible Pay at the Polls
This entire monstrous travesty is finally coming apart without even waiting for the horrible disappointment of the special counsel’s inability to adduce a scrap of evidence to justify his replication of Torquemada as an inquisitor and of the Gestapo and KGB at rounding up and accusing unarmed individuals who were not flight risks. The collapse of this grotesque putsch, under the irresistible pressure of a functioning attorney general and Senate committees that are not hamstrung by NeverTrumpers, will cause a revulsion against the Democratic Party that will be seismic and prolonged.

The disgrace of their misconduct is profound and shocking. Richard Nixon, against whom there is no conclusive evidence that he broke any laws (although a number of people in his entourage did) never did anything like this. J. Edgar Hoover in 47 years at the head of the FBI and its predecessor organization, never tried to meddle in a presidential election. Those responsible will pay for this, including at the polls.

Without realizing the proportions of the emergency, America has survived the greatest constitutional crisis since the Civil War. All those who legitimately oppose or dislike the president, including traditional high-brow Republicans who find him distasteful, should join in the condemnation of this largely criminal assault on democracy, and then, if they wish, go out and try to beat him fair and square, the good old-fashioned way, in a free election. But they must abide by the election’s result.

Content created by the Center for American Greatness, Inc. is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a significant audience. For licensing opportunities for our original content, please contact licensing@centerforamericangreatness.com.

Photo Credit: Andrew Caballero-Renyolds/AFP/Getty Images

About the Author: 

Conrad Black has been one of Canada’s most prominent financiers for 40 years, and was one of the leading newspaper publishers in the world as owner of the British telegraph newspapers, the Fairfax newspapers in Australia, the Jerusalem Post, Chicago Sun-Times and scores of smaller newspapers in the U.S., and most of the daily newspapers in Canada. He is the author of authoritative biographies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard Nixon, one-volume histories of the United States and Canada, and most recently of Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. He is a member of the British House of Lords as Lord Black of Crossharbour.

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The Pronk Pops Show 1132, August 28, 2017, Story 1: President Trump Warns Facebook, Google, and Twitter Be Careful or Face Federal Regulation For Political Bias — The Answer Is More Competition Not Federal Regulation or Antitrust Lawsuits — Videos — Story 2: FBI Leaked To Media To Get Support For Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court Surveillance Warrant — Videos — Story 3: Senior Department of Justice Official Bruce G. Ohr Testified Before Congress — FBI Knew Christopher Steele Was Biased Against Trump and Steele Dossier Funded By Clinton Campaign Through Fusion GPS — FBI Mislead Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court — Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 1103, July 5, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1102, JUly 3, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1101, July 2, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1100, June 28, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1098, June 25, 2018 

Pronk Pops Show 1097, June 21, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1094, June 18, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1087, June 4, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1086, May 31, 2018

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Pronk Pops Show 1081, May 22, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1080, May 21, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1079, May 17, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1078, May 16, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1077, May 15, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1076, May 14, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1075, May 10, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1073, May 8, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1072, May 7, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1071, May 4, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1070, May 3, 2018

Pronk Pops Show 1069, May 2, 2018

 Image result for cartoons google biasSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

Story 1: President Trump Warns Facebook, Google, and Twitter Be Careful or Face Federal Regulation For Political Bias — The Answer Is More Competition Not Federal Regulation or Antitrust Lawsuits — Videos —

Trump vs. Google

Trump accuses Google suppressing conservative voices

Trump Accuses Google of Highlighting Negative Stories

Trump accuses Google suppressing conservative voices

President Donald Trumps Latest Battles Are With Google And Canada | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

Trump Warns Google, Facebook, And Twitter To ‘Be Careful’

President Trump Warns Tech Companies After Google Tweets: ‘Better Be Careful’ | TIME

Rigged or not? Trump calls out Google on deliberately promoting negative news of him

Trump accuses Google of biased searches, warns ‘be careful’

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused Google and other U.S. tech companies of rigging search results about him “so that almost all stories & news is BAD.” He offered no evidence of bias, but a top adviser said the White House is “taking a look” at whether Google should face federal regulation.

Google pushed back sharply, saying Trump’s claim simply wasn’t so: “We never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”

The president’s tweets echoed his familiar attacks on the news media – and a conservative talking point that California-based tech companies run by CEOs with liberal leanings don’t give equal weight to opposing political viewpoints. They also revealed anew his deep-seated frustration he doesn’t get the credit he believes he deserves.

President Donald Trump listens to a question during a meeting with FIFA president Gianni Infantino and United States Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump listens to a question during a meeting with FIFA president Gianni Infantino and United States Soccer Federation president Carlos Cordeiro in the Oval Office of the White House, Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The president, who has said he runs on little sleep, jumped onto Twitter before dawn Tuesday to rehash his recent complaints about alleged suppression of conservative voices and positive news about him.

He followed that up with vague threats in Oval Office comments.

“I think Google has really taken advantage of a lot of people, and I think that’s a very serious thing. That’s a very serious charge,” Trump said, adding that Google, Twitter, Facebook and others “better be careful, because you can’t do that to people.”

Trump claimed that “we have literally thousands and thousands of complaints coming in. … So I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook, they’re really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful.”

Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser, told reporters later that the White House is “taking a look” at whether Google searches should be subject to some government regulation. That would be a noteworthy development since Trump often points proudly to his cutting of government regulations as a spur for economic gains.

In his tweets, Trump said – without offering evidence – that “Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media. In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal?” He added, again with no evidence, that “96% of results on “Trump News” are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous.”

A search query Tuesday morning, several hours after the president tweeted, showed stories from CNN, ABC News, Fox News and the MarketWatch business site, among others. A similar search later in the day for “Trump” had Fox News, the president’s favored cable network, among the top results.

Google, based in Mountain View, California, said its aim is to make sure its search engine users quickly get the most relevant answers.

“Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology,” the company said in a statement. “Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries. We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”

Experts suggested that Trump’s comments showed a misunderstanding of how search engines work.

Google searches aim to surface the most relevant pages in response to a user’s query, even before he or she finishes typing. The answers that appear first are the ones Google’s formulas, with some help from human content reviewers, deem to be the most authoritative, informative and relevant. Many factors help decide the initial results, including how much time people spend on a page, how many other pages link to it, how well it’s designed and more.

Trump and some supporters have long accused Silicon Valley companies of being biased against them. While some company executives may lean liberal, they have long asserted that their products are without political bias.

Media analyst Ken Doctor said it doesn’t make sense for mass-market businesses like Google to lean either way politically. He characterized the complaints as a “sign of our times,” adding that, years ago, if the head of General Electric was supporting a Republican candidate, people who disagreed wouldn’t then go out and boycott GE products.

“The temperature has risen on this,” Doctor said.

Steven Andres, who teaches about management information systems at San Diego State University, said people often assume that if you give a computer the same inputs no matter where you are that you “get the same outputs.”

But it doesn’t work that way, he said. “You’re seeing different things every moment of the day and the algorithms are always trying to change the results.”

Trump didn’t say what he based his tweets on. But conservative activist Paula Boylard had said in a weekend blog post that she found “blatant prioritization of left-leaning and anti-Trump media outlets” in search results.

Boylard based her judgments on the political leanings of media outlets on a list by Sharyl Attkisson, host of Sinclair Television’s “Full Measure” and author of “The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, Think, and How You Vote.” Sinclair is a significant outlet for conservative views.

Trump began complaining about the issue earlier this month as social media companies moved to ban right-wing “Infowars” conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from their platforms. The president also argues regularly – and falsely – that the news media avoid writing positive stories about him and his administration.

Jones is being sued for saying the 2012 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was staged. Jones has since said he believes the shooting did occur and has argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed because he was acting as a journalist.

Trump has praised Jones’ “amazing” reputation.

The issue is also of concern on Capitol Hill, where the House Energy and Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., recently announced that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is scheduled to testify before the panel on Sept. 5 about the platform’s algorithms and content monitoring.

___

Ortutay reported from New York.

___

Follow Darlene Superville and Barbara Ortutay on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap and http://www.twitter.com/barbaraortutay

A cursor moves over Google’s search engine page on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2018, in Portland, Ore. Political leanings don’t factor into Google’s search algorithm. But the authoritativeness of page links the algorithm spits out and the perception of thousands of human raters do. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

Trump: Facebook, Twitter, Google are ‘treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful’

  • Trump said in a tweet that Google’s search engine had “rigged” news story search results to show mostly “bad” stories about him and other conservatives. He later criticized Facebook and Twitter.
  • He says Google is prioritizing left-leaning outlets and warns that the situation “will be addressed.”
  • The president’s comments come a week before Google, Facebook and Twitter testify before Congress.
  • Larry Kudlow, Trump’s economic advisor, says the White House is “looking into” whether Google suppresses positive articles about the president.

President Trump accuses Google of rigging search results  

President Donald Trump doubled down on threats against FacebookTwitter and Google Tuesday afternoon, saying the social platforms are “treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful.”

“Google has really taken advantage of a lot of people and I think that’s a very serious thing and it’s a very serious charge,” Trump told reporters after a meeting with the president of FIFA. “They better be careful because they can’t do that to people.”

A Twitter spokesperson, when asked to respond to Trump’s comments, pointed to previous statements and congressional testimony denying any form of conservative bias on the platform. A spokesperson for Facebook did not immediately return request for comment.

Trump earlier Tuesday accused Google of altering search results to prioritize negative coverage and left-leaning outlets and warned that the issue “will be addressed.”

Trump said in a tweet that the tech giant’s search engine had “rigged” news story results to show mostly “bad” stories about him and other conservatives.

“Google search results for ‘Trump News’ shows only the viewing/reporting of Fake New Media,” the president said.

“In other words, they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out.”

Trump added: “Illegal? 96% of … results on ‘Trump News’ are from National Left-Wing Media, very dangerous. Google & others are suppressing voices of Conservatives and hiding information and news that is good. They are controlling what we can & cannot see. This is a very serious situation-will be addressed!”

Around 11 a.m. ET, Trump deleted the original tweets and reposted practically identical language.

“When users type queries into the Google Search bar, our goal is to make sure they receive the most relevant answers in a matter of seconds,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.

“Search is not used to set a political agenda and we don’t bias our results toward any political ideology. Every year, we issue hundreds of improvements to our algorithms to ensure they surface high-quality content in response to users’ queries. We continually work to improve Google Search and we never rank search results to manipulate political sentiment.”

Trump also praised the performance of the Nasdaq Compositeindex, which climbed above 8,000 points for the first time ever Monday.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

NASDAQ has just gone above 8000 for the first time in history!

Google’s parent company Alphabet is a key driver of the Nasdaq’s performance. The firm’s shares were under pressure following Trump’s comments, down around 0.5 percent.

Later Tuesday, Larry Kudlow, Trump’s economic advisor, told Bloomberg that the White House is “looking into” whether Google suppresses positive articles about the president. Kudlow did not provide details on how the White House was looking into the matter.

Shannon Pettypiece

@spettypi

Asked Larry Kudlow about Trump comments on Google. He said they are “looking into it” and doing some “investigations” and “analysis”

Some reports have suggested the president was referring to an unscientific report by conservative news website PJ Media, which claimed that 96 percent of Google search results for the word “Trump” showed left-leaning publications. The report places outlets including CNN, The Washington Post and The Guardian on the left of the political spectrum, while placing the likes of Fox News, the New York Post and the Daily Mail on the right.

Big tech to face Congress

Trump’s comments couldn’t be more timely. Next week, Google, Facebook and Twitter representatives will testify before Congress, discussing censorship and election meddling.

The hearings mark the second time representatives from all the companies will be on Capitol Hill to address concerns of election interference. For Facebook, it will be the third, following CEO Mark Zuckerberg‘s grilling earlier this year over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey and Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg are among those confirmed to be attending the hearings.

Facebook and Twitter have suspended hundreds of accounts ahead of the November midterm elections to avoid interference from foreign actors. Facebook last week said it had removed 652 pages, groups and accounts linked to Iran over “coordinated inauthentic behavior” targeting people in the U.S., the U.K., Latin America and the Middle East. As of Tuesday, Twitter has removed 770 accounts over “coordinated manipulation” ahead of the midterms.

Trump’s comments as a whole appear to represent a broader view among conservative circles that digital platforms are censoring them.

The president recently accused Twitter of “shadow banning” — allegedly limiting search results — for prominent Republicans, and called the practice “discriminatory and illegal.” Twitter has denied the claims.

And earlier this month, multiple tech companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google’s YouTube, Pinterest and Spotify, clamped down on content by the right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, removing podcasts, pages and other content.

Tech companies said they removed Jones for violating policies related to hate speech and harassment. “Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users,” Apple said at the time.

Some right-wing commentators have criticized the mass takedown of Jones’ content, saying it amounted to censorship.

—CNBC’s Sara Salinas contributed to this report.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/28/trump-accuses-google-of-rigging-search-results-in-favor-of-bad-coverage.html

Story 2: FBI Leaked To Media To Get Support For Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court Surveillance Warrant — Videos —

Deep State’s plot for FISA warrants revealed?

FBI Leaked To Media, Used Media’s Reports To Get FISA Warrants, Congressman Says

Steele’s communications with DOJ raise questions

Rep. Goodlatte now preparing Steele dossier subpoenas

Glen Simpson Gave Bruce Ohr A Memory Stick To Give To FBI After Steele Was Fired

GOP rep touches off firestorm with claim FBI leaked info, used stories to get FISA warrants

A Republican congressman touched off a firestorm Tuesday after claiming on Twitter that his office had information suggesting the FBI leaked information to the press and used the resulting articles to help obtain surveillance warrants.

“We’ve learned NEW information suggesting our suspicions are true: FBI/DOJ have previously leaked info to the press, and then used those same press stories as a separate source to justify FISA’s,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., tweeted overnight.

The claim stemmed in part from FBI intelligence analyst Jonathan Moffa’s Friday testimony behind closed doors before the House Judiciary and Oversight committees.

A source with knowledge of the testimony initially told Fox News that Moffa said FBI personnel would use media reports based on information they leaked to justify applications for Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants, echoing Meadows. The source said Moffa, who worked with controversial former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, acknowledged this “had been a practice in the past.”

But an FBI official pushed back, telling Fox News the initial claims about Moffa’s testimony were incorrect.

The source later clarified that Moffa testified the FBI routinely uses media material to corroborate their work product, including FISA materials, but “never said directly ‘we utilize FBI leaks for FISAs.’” The source maintained, however, that the FBI has a “culture of leaking for their own gain” and uses media reports to support their work: “There’s quite a bit of evidence raising concerns that the FBI engages in this without Moffa saying it.”

Republican member of the House Oversight Committee Mark Meadows says he has 'about 60 questions' for the DOJ official about his connection to the anti-Trump dossier, says the integrity of the FBI and the Department of Justice are at stake.

Republicans have long questioned to what extent leaked information, related to the unverified anti-Trump dossier, was used as a basis for surveillance warrants against former Trump adviser Carter Page in 2016 — when the bureau was led by James Comey and deputy Andrew McCabe.

The source told Fox News that Moffa did not specifically confirm whether leaking was employed with regard to the dossier.

Another source familiar with Moffa’s testimony offered a more nuanced version of events. The source told Fox News that Moffa said the FBI keeps track of open source reports related to their cases — and when asked whether a FISA application would reference a news account, he said it could be possible, hypothetically, but the FBI aims to find better information.

The source stressed that this was not related to any specific situation and that Moffa did not suggest this was a common practice at the FBI.

Meadows, though, largely stood by his claims – yet also offered a clarification in a Tuesday afternoon statement to Fox News, drawing a distinction between what Moffa testified and what his office has learned from other materials.

“Jonathan Moffa made it clear to the committee the FBI routinely uses media reports to corroborate analytic work product. We have emails and texts plainly showing the FBI leaks to the media, raising major red flags. If FBI executives want the American people to believe they haven’t used leaks to their advantage, they are not being honest,” Meadows said in the statement, while saying this includes FISA materials.

Meadows also told Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” earlier Tuesday that the committee had evidence of the FBI’s practice that would be “hard to refute.”

“We know that some people at the Department of Justice and the FBI actually gave information to the media, then the stories were reported. Then they used those reports to justify further investigations,” Meadows said. “You know, that’s like saying, we’re going to incriminate on one hand, and be the jury on the other. It just doesn’t work that way.”

The Daily Caller first reported on the specifics of Moffa’s claims.

The Trump dossier, which contained salacious allegations about the then-presidential candidate, was compiled by ex-British spy Christopher Steele. Steele, who was also working as an FBI source, had been hired by research firm Fusion GPS to compile details for the dossier, which was funded by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.

One source familiar with Moffa’s testimony told Fox News that his statements raise concerns that the bureau indeed used this practice with the dossier, referencing an article written by Yahoo! News’ Michael Isikoff.

The Isikoff article was published on Sept. 23, 2016, focusing on Page’s July 2016 trip to Moscow. According to a House GOP memo earlier this year, the Isikoff article did “not corroborate the Steele dossier” as the article was “derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News.” Yet the subsequent FISA application to spy on Page cited the Isikoff article, among other pieces of evidence.

“The [Carter] Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not properly provide information to Yahoo News,” the memo read. “Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News—and several other outlets—in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS.”

Moffa served on the FBI’s “Mid-Year Exam,” the code name for the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information and use of a private email server while secretary of state.

Moffa’s name often appeared in text message conversations between former FBI officials Strzok and Page, who came under scrutiny for their anti-Trump and politically charged exchanges. One text message exchange between the two on July 24, 2016 discussed their need to read “Moffa’s thing,” referencing an FBI “302”—which is an interview or witness deposition in an FBI investigation.

DOCUMENTS SUGGEST POSSIBLE COORDINATION BETWEEN CIA, FBI, OBAMA WH AND DEM OFFICIALS EARLY IN TRUMP-RUSSIA PROBE: INVESTIGATORS 

Another reference was on Aug. 8, 2016.

“Hey no update yet, waiting on Moffa, he’s in with Dina at mtg scheduled to end at 11,” Strzok texted Page. An hour later, he added: “Hey, talked to him, will let him fill you in. Internal joint cyber cd Intel piece for D, scenesetter for McDonough brief, Trainor [head of FBI cyber division] directed all cyber info be pulled. I’d let Bill and Jim hammer it out first, though it would be best for D to have it before the Wed WH session.”

In the texts, “D” referred to former FBI Director James Comey, and “McDonough” referred to former chief of staff for former President Barack Obama, Denis McDonough, according to GOP investigators.

Page left the bureau in May, and Strzok was fired earlier this month.

On Tuesday, House lawmakers have the chance to question Justice Department senior official Bruce Ohr on the same FBI practice, as Ohr testifies behind closed doors.

Ohr had frequent contact with Steele before and after the publication of the dossier, and the FBI’s ultimate decision to cut ties with the ex-British spy. Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, worked for Fusion GPS at the time of the creation of the dossier.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/08/28/fbi-agent-says-bureau-leaked-stories-then-used-them-to-get-fisa-warrants.html

 

Bruce Ohr

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Bruce Genesoke Ohr (born March 16, 1962) is a United States Department of Justice official. A former associate deputy attorney general and former director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF),[1] as of February 2018 Ohr was working in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.[2] He is an expert on transnational organized crime and has spent most of his career overseeing gang- and racketeering-related prosecutions,[3] including Russian organized crime.[4]

Ohr was little-known until 2018, when he became a subject of conservative conspiracy theories[5][6][7] and Republican scrutiny[8] over his purported involvement in starting the probe on Russian interference in the 2016 election. He was criticized by President Donald Trump.[5][6] There is no evidence that Ohr was involved in the start of the Russia probe.[7] According to a comprehensive review by ABC News, Ohr “had little impact on the FBI’s growing probe into Trump and his associates.”[3]

Education

Ohr graduated from Harvard College in 1984 with a degree in physics, and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1987.[9]

Career

Ohr worked for a law firm in San Francisco before becoming a career civil servant at the U.S. Department of Justice,[4] ultimately rising to the rank of Associate Deputy Attorney General. He was an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1991 to 1999,[3] and was head of the office’s Violent Gangs Unit before joining the Justice Department’s Washington headquarters as the head of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section of the Criminal Division, where Ohr managed teams investigating and prosecuting crime syndicates in Russia and eastern Europe.[4] In 2006, Ohr was one of a number of U.S. government officials who made the decision to revoke the visa of Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch and Vladimir Putin ally.[4]

In 2010, Ohr moved to a new position as counsel for international relations in DOJ’s Transnational organized crime and international affairs section. He became director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) in 2014.[4] He later became associate deputy attorney general, but lost that position in late 2017, although he remained director of OCDETF for a time.[10] Ohr was demoted by the Department of Justice amid the Senate Intelligence Committee’s discovery of his meetings with Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson.[11]

Russia probe

Ohr served as the Justice Department contact for Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent commissioned to author the Trump–Russia dossier. The dossier was prepared, under a contract to the DNC and the Clinton campaign, by the opposition research firm Fusion GPS. According to a Republican-led investigation, during the 2016 election, Fusion GPS hired Bruce’s wife Nellie Ohr, an independent contractor and Russia specialist, to conduct “research and analysis” of Donald Trump.[10][12][13] A comprehensive report done by ABC News disputes that Ohr’s wife worked on the dossier, instead stating that she “was not directly involved in the ‘dossier’ while she worked for Fusion GPS.”[3]

Ohr was mentioned in the controversial Nunes memo, written by Devin Nunes, chair of the Republican-led House Intelligence Committee, which was released in February 2018. The full committee did not sign off on the memo, and Democrats in the committee produced their own memo which largely contradicted the Nunes memo.[14] The Nunes memo, which focused on the Justice Department’s process for obtaining a FISA warrant to wiretap Trump associate Carter Page in October 2016, said that Ohr was aware of Steele’s bias against Trump in September 2016.[15][10] The memo alleged that Steele’s reported bias against Trump was not mentioned in the FISA warrant application, and that the FISA court was misled.[15][2] A competing memo by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee said that the FISA warrant made clear that the Steele dossier was paid opposition research likely intended to discredit the Trump campaign in the 2016 election, and that the court was therefore not misled.[16] Ohr documented Steele’s opinions on Trump in November 2016 (several weeks after the initial FISA warrant against Page had been approved by the FISA court), saying Steele “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”[16] Ohr was not assigned to work in counterintelligence operations and was not known to be involved in obtaining the FISA warrant.[2] According to BBC News, the fact that Ohr recorded Steele’s opinions “somewhat [undercuts] the accusation of rampant bias within the department, given that a truly compromised individual wouldn’t jot that sort of thing down.”[14]

In 2018, Ohr became the subject of right-wing conspiracy theories which alleged that he played an important role in starting the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.[5][6] The conspiracy theories allege that the origins of the Russia probe were biased and were intended to undermine then-candidate Trump.[6] This theory assumes that the probe was started because of the Steele dossier. But in fact the July 2016 launch of the FBI investigation was triggered, not by the dossier, but by a report that Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos knew, before it became public knowledge, that the Russians possessed damaging information about Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands” of stolen emails.[17] This origin of the probe is confirmed in the Nunes memo itself.[18] Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has stated that as far as he knew, Ohr was not involved with the Russia investigation,[19] and told the House Judiciary Committee that Ohr had “no role” in the investigation.[11] The claim that the origins of the Russia probe were tainted is unsubstantiated.[6] The FBI did not publicly reveal the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign during the campaign, in part so as not to hurt his electoral chances, contradicting the claim that the probe was an attempt to undermine Trump’s candidacy.[6]

Trump called Ohr a “disgrace” in a tweet in August 2018, and suggested that he would revoke Ohr’s security clearance.[7] There is no publicly available evidence that suggests Ohr mishandled sensitive information.[6] Trump’s threat to strip Ohr of his security clearance came amid threats to revoke the security clearances of a number of current and former officials who had criticized Trump or been involved in Russia probe.[20] According to The Washington Post, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and her deputy Bill Shine discussed the best timing to announce the revocations as a way of distracting from unfavorable news cycles.[20][21] Rep. Jim Jordan, a critic of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, called for Ohr’s firing.[22][7]

On August 28, 2018, Ohr gave testimony in a closed hearing to two Republican-led House committees looking into decisions made by the DOJ ahead of the 2016 presidential election.[23]

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Ohr

Story 3: Senior Department of Justice Official Bruce G. Ohr Testified Before Congress — FBI Knew Christopher Steele Was Biased Against Trump and Steele Dossier Funded By Clinton Campaign Through Fusion GPS — FBI Mislead Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court — Videos

Jordan on revelations from Ohr’s closed-door testimony

Hannity: Blowing the Bruce Ohr case wide open

Jordan on revelations from Ohr’s closed-door testimony

Should Mueller interview Bruce Ohr?

Mueller, Huber have yet to interview Bruce Ohr

Trump renews demand that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr is fired for role in golden showers dossier saying ‘how the hell is he still employed?’

  • President Trump – for a second time – demanded senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr be fired
  • ‘How the hell is Bruce Ohr still employed at the Justice Department? Disgraceful!’ Trump tweeted on Wednesday
  • His call comes a day after Ohr spent eight hours on Capitol Hill being grilled by lawmakers on his ties to former British spy Christopher Steele
  • Steele’s unverified dossier claims Russia has blackmail information on Trump 
  • Republicans said Ohr’s testimony suggested the FBI had doubts about dossier’s credibility 

President Donald Trump is demanding – for a second time – senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr be fired, coming one day after the government employee was subject to a closed door grilling by members of Congress.

The president fumed at Ohr, asking ‘how the hell’ he still has a job and called it a ‘disgrace.’

Trump has repeatedly targeted Ohr, who is also on the administration’s list of officials who may lose their security clearance.

‘How the hell is Bruce Ohr still employed at the Justice Department? Disgraceful! Witch Hunt!,’ the president tweeted Wednesday.

Former associate deputy U.S. attorney general Bruce Ohr arrives to testify behind closed doors before the House Judiciary and House Oversight and Government Reform Committees

President Trump has targeted Ohr repeatedly on Twitter and on Wednesday demanded - for a second time - Ohr be fired

This Morning’s Dr Chris Steele presents problems facing the NHS

Trump made his first call for the termination last week, citing Nellie Ohr’s ties to the company which commissioned the infamous and unverified Steele dossier during the presidential campaign.

Ohr was on Capitol Hill Tuesday for almost eight hours in a closed-door grilling with lawmakers.

The House is on August recess but Republican lawmakers returned for the chance to question Ohr, who was in contact with former British spy Christopher Steele, while Democratic lawmakers were represented by committee staff, ABC News reported.

Ohr gave lawmakers ‘a list of half a dozen’ senior FBI and Justice Departments officials who knew about his interactions, GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe told Fox News’ ‘Hannity’ Tuesday night.

Ohr had passed along Steele’s information from their contact to the FBI, even after the bureau had terminated its formal relationship with Steele over the spy’s leaks about their work to the media.

Republicans also were interested in how Steele’s dossier ended up in FBI hands. Ohr’s wife Nellie worked at Fusion GPS, the same firm that hired Steele to write the dossier although it’s been reported she did not work on that project.

‘We’ve confirmed that Bruce Ohr was a willing and constant conduit between Fusion GPS, paid for by the Clinton campaign, and the FBI,’ Republican Rep. Darrell Issa said on ‘Fox & Friends’ Wednesday morning without going into details.

‘He knew he was providing hearsay and double hearsay that would never stand up in court,’ Issa added.

Other Republicans said Ohr’s testimony suggested the FBI had doubts about dossier’s credibility when they sought a surveillance warrant on former Trump campaign official Carter Page in October 2016.

The House Judiciary Committee and the The House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform have held multiple joint sessions with the players in the saga surrounding special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation as part of their look into FBI and Justice Department activities related to the 2016 election. 

Trump and his allies claim that FBI surveillance of Page was a done through a tainted FISA warrant that relied on the Steele dossier.

Last month, documents released through a Freedom of Information Act request showed federal agents relied on more information than the Steele dossier to obtain the warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. 

Ohr is an expert on the Russian mafia and organized crime, work that brought him into contact with Steele, who specialized in Russia when he worked as a spy.

The two men met in 2007, when Steele still worked for MI-6 and Ohr was investigating Russian crime syndicates.

Steele went on to investigate ties between Trump and Russia for the research firm, Fusion GPS, where Ohr’s wife Nellie worked as a contractor.

Trump has slammed Ohr repeatedly on Twitter

Trump has slammed Ohr repeatedly on Twitter

Ohr had contact with former British spy Christopher Steele, whose unverified dossier alleged Russia had information it could use to blackmail Trump

Ohr had contact with former British spy Christopher Steele, whose unverified dossier alleged Russia had information it could use to blackmail Trump

Fusion GPS commissioned Steele to write the dossier on Trump that alleged the Russians have information they could use to blackmail the president, including an allegation – which Trump has denied – that he hired ‘a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him’ when he was in Moscow for the 2013 Miss Universe pageant.

Reports indicate Nellie Ohr did not work on the dossier and her time at Fusion GPS did not influence her husband’s work at DoJ.

Trump and his allies claim the Steele dossier was politically motivated by those in the government who do not want to see Trump be president.

Democrats, meanwhile, argue the Ohr testimony is another attempt to prove a conspiracy theory they say does not have merit.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6111033/Trump-fuming-Justice-Department-official-Bruce-Ohr-asking-hell-employed.html

 

Numerous congressional sources are telling SaraACarter.com that after Department of Justice official Bruce Ohr’s explosive closed-door testimony on Tuesday, lawmakers are gearing up to call his wife, Nellie Ohr, in for questioning regarding her work with the now-embattled research firm, Fusion GPS. Congress is also seeking access to Bruce Ohr’s text messages and emails with top FBI officials.

Fusion GPS was founded by former Wall Street Journal reporter Glenn Simpson and hired by the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign to investigate alleged ties between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Nellie Ohr, a Russia expert who was hired by Fusion GPS in 2016 to investigate the Trump campaign, received multiple large sum payments from the research firm, according to a U.S. official, with direct knowledge of the payments.

The payments from the DNC and Clinton campaign were made through the law firm Perkins Coie, which represented both clients. The research firm also hired former British spy Christopher Steele, who was friends with the Ohrs and who compiled the now infamous and unverified anti-Trump dossier. Steele was not only paid by Fusion GPS for his work but according to documents obtained by Judicial Watch, he was also being paid by the FBI from Jan. 1. 2016 to Nov. 1, 2016.

The U.S. official did not disclose the amount of money paid to Bruce Ohr’s wife through Simpson’s firm, but said it “was not chump change, that much I can say.”

The Washington Post first published in 2017 that the DNC and Clinton campaign paid for the research firm’s service to investigate the alleged Trump campaign’s ties with Russia. According to the Post, the Clinton campaign paid the law firm $5.6 million in legal fees from June 2015 to December 2016, according to campaign finance records. On top of that, the DNC paid Perkins Coie $3.6 million, which was labeled in their disclosures as “legal and compliance consulting” since November 2015. So far, Congress has not disclosed the exact amount that Fusion GPS, or those involved, received for the research.

Lawmakers are also seeking all communications – texts and emails – between Bruce Ohr and top officials at the FBI. During Ohr’s testimony, he disclosed that he was communicating with former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former FBI Attorney Lisa Page and former FBI Special Agent Peter Stzrok, which was confirmed by Ohr’s handwritten notes obtained by lawmakers, as first reported by this outlet. McCabe was fired from his role at the FBI earlier this year by Attorney General Jeff Sessions after it was discovered by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz that he leaked information to the media and lied multiple times to investigators. Page left the FBI earlier this year and her lover, Strzok, was fired by the new FBI Deputy Director David L. Bowdich earlier this month.

“Bruce Ohr’s testimony before Congress highlighted the need for further interviews with key players that were involved in the backchannel negotiations between Fusion GPS, Christopher Steele and the FBI,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) told SaraACarter.com. “Of particular concern will be direct testimony from Nellie Ohr as well as communications between Bruce Ohr and other FBI and DOJ officials much of which, formal requests for those documents have already been made.”

Of particular concern will be direct testimony from Nellie Ohr as well as communications between Bruce Ohr and other FBI and DOJ officials…

Meadows, who has already spoken to Justice Department officials, said he expects that the DOJ will be cooperative following Ohr’s deposition Tuesday.

“Conversations with the Department of Justice following the Bruce Ohr interview have indicated a new willingness to be transparent in a couple of key areas,” Meadows added.

According to several congressional officials who spoke to this outlet, Ohr’s testimony shed light on previous testimony given by Page and other FBI officials, who appeared to have downplayed or omitted their working relationship with Ohr.

As for Nellie Ohr, there was serious concern among congressional members that her husband, Bruce Ohr, did not disclose his wife’s work with Fusion GPS to the DOJ, which they said is a conflict of interest and raises serious legal questions.

Fox News legal analyst Gregg Jarrett recently published a column that listed the possible legal violations Bruce Ohr could encounter for failing to disclose to the DOJ his wife’s payments from Fusion GPS, as well as his failure to inform the DOJ of his wife’s work:

Since his wife worked for Fusion GPS and contributed to the “dossier,” the relationship presented a disqualifying conflict of interest for Ohr. He was legally obligated under Justice Department regulations to recuse himself from any investigation in which his wife was involved.

Ohr did not seek a waiver of the conflict of interest. Instead, he omitted this information. Upon joining the Justice Department, he had signed an agreement stating that he would be fired for violating its rules. Inexplicably, he was not terminated, which only reinforces the impression that impropriety and concealment continued at the highest levels of the department.

Not only did Bruce Ohr fail to disclose that Fusion GPS was paying his wife, but it appears he did not fully report the nature of the work performed in financial disclosure reports as required under Justice Department regulations. Willfully filing a false government report constitutes a crime under federal law – specifically 8 U.S.C. (United States Code) 1001.

https://saraacarter.com/breaking-day-after-ohrs-testimony-congress-seeks-to-question-his-wife/

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1123, August 13, 2018, Story 1: FBI Finally Fires Peter Stzroyk — When Will Attorney General Sessions Appoint Second Special Counsel To Investigate and Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspirators? — Videos — Story 2: Joyriding Plane Ends In Crash and Death — Videos — Story 3: Big Google Is Watching Your Movements and So It Big Brother — Videos — Story 4: Alex Jones and Infowars More Popular Than Even Despite Corporate Censorship Conspiracy — Anti-American Leftist Great Purge of Pro Americans Viewpoints — Let The Lawsuits Begin — Videos —

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Story 1: FBI Finally Fires Peter Stzroyk — When Will Attorney General Sessions Appoint Second Special Counsel To Investigate and Prosecute The Clinton Obama Democrat Criminal Conspirators — Videos

Tom Fitton on Strzok’s firing: ‘body blow’ to Mueller probe

FBI fires Special Agent Peter Strzok, who had been on Russia probe

Peter Strzok fired over anti-Trump text messages

Jim Jordan: It’s about time Strzok was fired

 

FBI fires Peter Strzok, months after anti-Trump texts revealed

FBI official Peter Strzok, who played a lead role in both the Russian meddling and Hillary Clinton email probes but became a political lightning rod after the revelation of anti-Trump text messages, has been fired.

Strzok attorney Aitan Goelman said in a statement Monday that his client, a 21-year FBI veteran, was fired Friday afternoon, claiming this was a departure from standard practice and politically motivated. Goelman said bureau Deputy Director David Bowdich “overruled” the FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility to remove him.

“This decision should be deeply troubling to all Americans,” the attorney said.

Strzok appeared to launch a new Twitter account to fire back, saying he’s “deeply saddened” by the decision and linking to a GoFundMe page.

President Trump and his allies for months, though, have hammered the former FBI agent and cast him as the poster child for anti-Trump bias within the bureau and Justice Department.

Reacting to the firing, the president tweeted, “finally,” while asking whether the Russia case will now be dropped:

“Agent Peter Strzok was just fired from the FBI – finally. The list of bad players in the FBI & DOJ gets longer & longer. Based on the fact that Strzok was in charge of the Witch Hunt, will it be dropped? It is a total Hoax. No Collusion, No Obstruction – I just fight back!”

The president over the weekend had tweeted that Strzok and others have “badly damaged” the FBI’s reputation, referring to them as “clowns and losers!”

Strzok was removed from the special counsel probe last year after the discovery that he exchanged anti-Trump and other politically charged messages with colleague and lover Lisa Page.

FBI TEXTING SCANDAL EXPLAINED

In June, he was then escorted from his FBI office and lost his security clearance amid the release of a scathing DOJ inspector general report that largely dealt with the DOJ and FBI’s handling of the investigation into Clinton’s private email server but uncovered messages that “appeared to mix political opinion with discussions” about that probe — namely, between Strzok and Page.

Judicial Watch Director of Investigations Chris Farrell on how FBI official Peter Strzok requested that he retain his security clearance after being added to special counsel Robert Mueller's team.

The IG ultimately found no evidence that the bias among the several FBI agents impacted prosecutorial decisions in the Clinton email probe. But Republicans have repeatedly raised concerns that anti-Trump bias played a role in the start of the investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with Trump associates in 2016.

One Strzok text in particular vowed to “stop” Trump from becoming president.

In an explosive congressional hearing last month, Strzok sought to clear his name and address the many controversial messages. He claimed his personal opinions did not affect his work. But Republicans tore into the FBI official, with House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy saying he exhibited “textbook bias.”

Trump’s allies cheered the former agent’s termination on Monday.

“Peter Strzok was fired from the FBI because of what his own written words plainly showed: he was willing to use his official FBI position to try and stop President Trump from getting elected. He tarnished the FBI’s sterling reputation and severely damaged public trust in an institution where trust is paramount. His conduct should deeply concern every American,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said in a statement to Fox News.

Strzok’s attorney, meanwhile, blasted the bureau on Monday, saying the deputy director “reversed the decision of the career FBI official responsible for employee discipline who concluded, through an independent review process, that a 60-day suspension and demotion from supervisory duties was the appropriate punishment.”

He added, “A lengthy investigation and multiple rounds of Congressional testimony failed to produce a shred of evidence that Special Agent Strzok’s personal views ever affected his work.”

The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment for this report.

Text messages first emerged last year, showing Strzok and Page discussing 2016 campaign politics and repeatedly blasting Trump. In one message, Strzok called Trump an “idiot.”

Messages continued to trickle out, including some reflecting apparent concern about being too tough on Clinton during the investigation into her private email system use.

The inspector general report, meanwhile, referred a total of five FBI employees for investigation in connection with politically charged texts, suggesting more disciplinary action could be considered for additional employees. Lisa Page left the bureau earlier this year.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/08/13/fbi-fires-peter-strzok-months-after-anti-trump-texts-revealed.html

Story 2: Joyriding Plane Ends In Crash and Death — Videos —

Extended audio: Horizon employee talks with air traffic control in cockpit

Horizon Air hijacking: ‘pilot’ performs stunts before crashing

Did Seattle baggage handler learn how to fly and do aerial stunts in a SIMULATOR? Expert gives his opinion on mystifying suicide of 29-year-old hijacker as devastated parents express their shock

  • Richard Russell, 29, was identified as the airport worker who hijacked an Alaska Airlines plane on Friday
  • His family said Saturday they were ‘stunned and heartbroken’ at death of ‘faithful husband and good friend’
  • Stole Horizon Air Q400 and did loop-the-loops while being pursued by two US Air Force F-15 fighter jets
  • Plunged into a heavily wooded area on the sparsely-populated Ketron Island and was engulfed by flames
  • Russell’s main role at the airport was to unload bags, and he had security clearance to be near aircraft
  • However, he did not have pilot’s licence so unclear how he managed to operate such a complex airplane
  • Former Horizon Airlines employee suggested he could have picked up his skills on a flight simulator
  • And investigator said it was ‘conceivable’ a ground service agent could start the airplane without a key  

The family of a suicidal baggage handler who hijacked an empty Alaska Airlines plane in Seattle on Friday night before taking it for a joyride and crashing to his death said on Saturday they feel ‘stunned and heartbroken’.

Richard Russell, a 29-year-old Horizon Air employee, was remembered in a family statement read out by friends at a news conference as a ‘faithful husband’ to his wife, Hannah, and a ‘good friend who was loved by everyone’.

‘It may seem difficult for those watching at home to believe, but Beebo was a warm, compassionate man,’ they wrote, referring to Russell’s nickname.

The family described his death as a ‘complete shock’, adding: ‘We are devastated by these events and Jesus is truly the only one holding this family together right now.’

They also referred to recordings of a conversation between Russell and air traffic controllers in which he said he ‘didn’t want to hurt anyone’ and apologized to his family for what he was about to do.

‘As the voice recordings show, Beebo’s intent was not to harm anyone and he was right in saying that there are so many people who love him,’ they wrote.

Russell, who was described as suicidal by investigators, hijacked the 76-seat plane at around 8pm on Friday after taking the aircraft from the maintenance area.

Although he had security clearance to be near planes, he did not have a pilot’s license and it is unclear how he learned how to fly. One expert said he could have picked up some skills by using a computer flight simulator.

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Richard Russell, a married 29-year-old Horizon Air employee, (seen with his wife, Hannah) was remembered in a family statement released at a news conference on Saturday as a 'faithful husband' and a 'good friend'

Russell in his baggage handler uniform

Richard Russell, a married 29-year-old Horizon Air employee, (seen with his wife, Hannah, left; and in his uniform, right) was remembered in a family statement released at a news conference on Saturday as a ‘faithful husband’ and a ‘good friend’

The family statement was read out by friends of Russell's family on Saturday. None of his family members are thought to have been present

The family statement was read out by friends of Russell’s family on Saturday. None of his family members are thought to have been present

The hijacked Horizon Air Q400, which took off from Seattle-Tacoma Airport before crashing 25 miles away in south Puget Sound

The crash site at south Puget Sound

These images show the hijacked Horizon Air Q400 which took off from Seattle-Tacoma Airport on Friday before crashing 25 miles away in south Puget Sound (left, in the air; right, after the crash)

Witnesses described seeing the plane performing barrel rolls and loop-the-loops as the military planes directed it away from highly-populated areas and towards Ketron Island, where it crashed into a ball of flame.

‘He did some aerobatics in the airplane that I was shocked to see,’ said Rick Christenson, a retired operational supervisor for Horizon Air.

‘And for him to do that I would think that he either played in a simulator or what. It looked pretty amazing to me. Maybe it was luck, I don’t know.’

During the hijacking, Russell joked with air traffic controllers about how he would be jailed for life for stealing the plane, before telling them he was a ‘broken man’ with ‘a few screws loose’.

‘He was a warm, compassionate man’: Full statement from the family of hijacker Richard Russell

On behalf of the family, we are stunned and heartbroken. It may seem difficult for those watching at home to believe, but Beebo was a warm, compassionate man. It is impossible to encompass who he was in a press release. He was a faithful husband, a loving son, and a good friend. A childhood friend remarked that Beebo was loved by everyone because he was kind and gentle to each person he met.

This is a complete shock to us. We are devastated by these events and Jesus is truly the only one holding this family together right now. Without Him we would be hopeless. As the voice recordings show, Beebo’s intent was not to harm anyone and he was right in saying that there are so many people who love him.

We would like to thank the authorities who have been both helpful and respectful, Alaska Air for their resources, the community, his friends and his family for their incredible support and compassion, and Jesus whose steadfast love endures. We’d also like to thank the media for their sensitivity and acknowledging this as the only statement that will be released by the family, and we request that we now be given space to mourn.

At this time the family is moving forward with the difficult task of processing our grief. We appreciate your prayers. Thank you

He may also have hinted at having used some form of flight simulator in the past in an exchange when he told the officials he did not need help because, ‘I’ve played some video games before’.

Meanwhile, Horizon Air CEO Gary Beck said he was baffled about how Russell picked up the flying skills. ‘We don’t know how he learned to do that,’ he said.

‘Commercial aircraft are complex machines. No idea how he achieved that experience.’

Russell had worked for Horizon Air at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport for nearly four years, according to his LinkedIn account, as a ground service agent and an operations agent.

Horizon Air COO Constance von Muehlen said in a video statement that ‘our hearts are with the family of the individual on board as well as all our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees’.

Officials said during a press conference on Saturday that Russell used a push back tractor to rotate the plane 180 degrees before take off.

Debra Eckrote, of the National Transportation Safety Board, said it was conceivable that a ground service agent would be able to start an airplane.

‘They don’t necessarily use a key, so there’s switches that they use to start the aircraft,’ she said.

‘So if the person has basic understanding — from what I understand he was support personnel, ground personnel — they probably do have at least a basic understanding on how to start the aircraft.’

Russell was born in Key West, Florida and moved to Alaska when he was seven years old, according to a 2017 blog post. He met his wife, Hannah, in 2010 while they were both in school and married one year later. It doesn’t appear that they had any children.

According to Russell’s blog, he and Hannah opened a bakery called Hannah Marie’s Bakery in North Bend, Oregon and ran it for three years.

In 2015, the couple relocated to Seattle ‘because we were both so far removed from our families’, Russell wrote.

‘Failing to convince Hannah of Alaska’s greatness, we settled on Sumner because of its close proximity to her family,’ he posted.

While living in Seattle, Russell started working for Horizon Air writing that he enjoyed being able to travel to Alaska in his spare time. Russell, who was pursuing his bachelor’s degree for social sciences from Washington State University, said he wanted to move up in his company to one day work in a management position.

The Horizon Air worker, however, also had other dreams, writing on his blog that he was considering becoming a military officer.

Richard Russell

Richard Russell

Russell has worked for Horizon Air at Seattle-Tacoma Airport for nearly four years, according to his LinkedIn account, as a ground service agent and an operations agent

Russell, 29, married his wife Hannah in 2011 after meeting in school the year before. They are seen together in an undated photo

Russell, 29, married his wife Hannah in 2011 after meeting in school the year before. They are seen together in an undated photo

Richard and Hannah Russell

Russell posted several videos on his blog showing him and his wife (pictured) traveling around the globe

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Russell’s blog is filled with pictures of him and his wife traveling across the globe. The 29-year-old also shared pictures from his wedding day and several videos showcasing what he does at work.

In one video, apparently for a class project, Russell introduces himself as ‘Beebo Russell’ and says he ‘lifts a lot of bags’ at his job.

‘Like a lot of bags,’ he says. ‘So many bags.’

He went on to say that because of his job he’s been able to visit places like France, Idaho, Mexico, Ireland and Alaska. Russell ended the nearly two-minute long video by sharing photos of his family.

Seattle plane hijacker’s final YouTube post reveals his boredom with his ‘minimum wage’ job

The final YouTube video posted by a Seattle plane hijacker depicts a happily married man with a monotonous job that’s only silver lining was the travel opportunities it afforded him.

Richard Russell, 29, stole an Horizon Airlines jet from the Seattle-Tacoma Airport and took it for an hour-long joyride before crashing on an island in a ball of flames on Friday evening.

A video posted to Russell’s amateur travel blog in December 2017 provides an intimate view into his life as a grounds service agent for Horizon Airlines, a job that consisted primarily of loading and unloading luggage, paying only $13.75 per hour.

‘Hi, I’m Beebo Russell and I’m a grounds service agent. That means, I lift a lot of bags. Like, a lot of bags. So many bags,’ he narrates over back-to-back clips of suitcases being loaded on and off of airplanes as a lighthearted tune plays in the background.

‘Look at all them bags. Ooh, a purple one,’ he says cheekily.

After making the point about the monotony of Russell’s job through several drawn-out luggage clips, the video flashes a selfie of the 29-year-old working in the rain, followed by footage of a storm soaking the Sea-Tac tarmac.

‘I usually have to work outside in this,’ Russell says.

‘But, it allows me to do some pretty cool things, too.’

The second half of the two-minute video is devoted to Russell’s travels, featuring photos and videos from his different trips around the world.

Several of his adventures were in his wife’s home state of Alaska, including a plane tour of the Misty Fjords in Ketchikan and hiking trips at Hatcher Pass in Palmer and Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau.

He also shows off clips from a ski trip at Schweitzer Mountain in Sandpoint, Idaho, and a hiking trip at Precipice Trail in Maine’s Acadia National Park.

Outside of the US, one of Russell’s favorite locations appears to be France, where he’d toured everywhere from Alsace to Sisteron to the Lavender Field in Valensole.

Other international experiences shown in the video included a hurling match in Dublin, Ireland, and a guys’ weekend at Chichen Itza in Mexico.

Russell wraps up the video with several photos at gatherings with friends and family, saying: ‘Most importantly, I get to visit those I love most.’

Plane hijacker flies in loops and upside-down before crashing
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Russell said in a blog post that he and his wife met in Oregon and moved to Seattle in 2015

Russell said in a blog post that he and his wife met in Oregon and moved to Seattle in 2015

It does not appear that Russell and his wife had children. The couple are pictured together in a Facebook photo 

It does not appear that Russell and his wife had children. The couple are pictured together in a Facebook photo

Pictured above is Russell at what appears to be at a wedding. He posted the photo at the end of one of his YouTube videos 

Pictured above is Russell at what appears to be at a wedding. He posted the photo at the end of one of his YouTube videos

Rick Christenson, retired from Horizon Air, told the DailyMail.com that Russell was ‘quiet’ and ‘a nice kid’.

Christenson didn’t supervise Russell’s team, but said he saw the 29-year-old in passing while at work.

‘He always had a nice smile,’ he said. ‘He seemed quiet, and he always had a smile. The people that knew him said he was a nice guy.’

Christenson said he was sitting on his deck Friday night at his Tacoma home with his wife, his cousin and his cousin’s wife when he saw the Horizon Q400 fly over his house.

‘All of a sudden one of the Horizon Q400s came over the house at 500 feet, followed by two F-15s; one was high, one was low,’ Christenson said, adding that he knew something was wrong because the plane was flying way too low.

He added in a separate interview: ‘Everybody’s stunned… that something like this would happen. How could it? Everybody’s been through background checks.’

The former supervisor said he grabbed a pair of binoculars to watch the aircraft, admitting that he was ‘scared’ and ‘concerned’ because he didn’t know what was going on.

‘He was doing a lot of weird flying, weird turns,’ he said, ‘but he was coming back towards us, towards our way.’

Christenson said while the plane was over the water it did a 360 degree roll ‘and went into a steep dive’.

‘He brought the one wing up and the whole airplane rolled and as it rolled it went into a dive. It looked control,’ he said, adding that the plane pulled up with less than 50 feet between the nose of the aircraft and the water.

Christenson said two minutes later there was ‘big plume of black smoke’, indicating the plane had crashed.

Two F-15 fighter jets scrambled from Portland 'minutes later' to intercept it, according to Pierce County Sheriff's Office. Pictured is the hijacked plane, top, and one of the F-15s beneath it

Two F-15 fighter jets scrambled from Portland ‘minutes later’ to intercept it, according to Pierce County Sheriff’s Office. Pictured is the hijacked plane, top, and one of the F-15s beneath it

Smoke and an orange glow are seen on Ketron Island in Washington state, where the plane eventually crash landed

Smoke and an orange glow are seen on Ketron Island in Washington state, where the plane eventually crash landed

The retired Horizon Air worker also said he doesn’t understand how Russell was able to back the aircraft onto the taxiway by himself, although he said it is possible.

‘It’s not the procedure,’ he said, explaining that usually a two-person crew moves aircraft.

Christenson said under normal circumstances one worker is in the cockpit communicating with with the tower, and a second person is on the tractor used to push the plane.

Authorities have said that Russell was in the aircraft alone, but don’t know how he moved the plane and took off undetected.

Russell’s main role as a ground service agent was to load and unload bags, direct aircraft for takeoff, and de-ice planes in the winter.

According to a job posting, ground service agents are paid roughly $13.75 an hour and as a full-time employee they receive benefits, travel privileges for themselves and family members and are eligible for a bonus program.

Nowhere in the job description does it mention that ground service agents are permitted to fly planes.

Police officers standing at a staging ground at the ferry terminal in Steilacoom. Questions will now be asked about security at the airport and how an unqualified worker was given access to the plane

Police officers standing at a staging ground at the ferry terminal in Steilacoom. Questions will now be asked about security at the airport and how an unqualified worker was given access to the plane

Emergency services vehicles at the ferry terminal in Steilacoom, Washington, on Friday evening, near by the suspected crash site

‘I don’t need that much help. I’ve played some video games before’: Suicidal airport employee speaks to air traffic control before crash

Shortly after the plane took off, traffic controllers were heard on an Internet livestream speaking to a man identified as ‘Rich’.

‘There is the runway just off your right side in about a mile, do you see that?’ the traffic controller said.

‘Oh those guys will try to rough me up if I try land there…,’ Rich replied. ‘I think I might mess something up there too. I wouldn’t want to do that. Oh they probably have got anti-aircraft.’

‘They don’t have any of that stuff, we are just trying to find you a place to land safely.’

‘Yeah, not quite ready to bring it down just yet, but holy smokes I need to stop looking at the fuel ‘cos it’s going down quick.’

‘OK, Rich, if you could, could you start a left-hand turn and we’ll take you down to the south-east.’

‘This is probably jail time for life, huh? I would hope it is for a guy like me. ‘  

Rich: I’ve got a lot of people that care about me. It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this.

I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose I guess. Never really knew it, until now

Rich: I’m down to 2,100, I started at like 30-something.

Air traffic control: Rich, you said you had 2,100 pounds of fuel left?

Rich: Yeah, I don’t know what the burnage, burnout? Is like on a takeoff, but yeah, it’s burned quite a bit faster than I expected.

Air traffic control: Right now he’s just flying around, and he just needs some help controlling the aircraft.

Rich: Nah I mean, I don’t need that much help. I’ve played some video games before. I would like to figure out how to get this… make it pressurized or something so I’m not lightheaded.

Rich: Ah minimum wage. We’ll chalk it up to that. Maybe that will grease the gears a little bit with the higher-ups

Rich: Damnit Andrew, people’s lives are at stake here.

Air traffic control: Ah Rich, don’t say stuff like that.

Rich: I don’t want to hurt anyone, I just want you to whisper sweet nothings into my ear.

Rich: Hey do you think if I land this successfully Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?

Air traffic control: You know, I think they would give you a job doing anything if you could pull this off.

Rich: Yeah right! Nah, I’m a white guy

Air traffic control: If you wanted to land, probably your best bet is that runway just ahead and to your left. Again, that’s McCourt (sic) Field.

If you wanted to try, that might be the best way to set up and see if you can land there. Or just like the pilot’s suggestion, the other option might be over Puget Sound, into the water.

Rich: Dang, did you talk to McCourt, cause I don’t know if I’d be happy with you telling me I could land like that, cause I could really mess some stuff up.

Air traffic control: Well Rich I already talked to ’em. Just like me, what we want to see is you not get hurt, or anyone else get hurt. So if you want to try to land, that’s the way to go.

Rich: Hey I want the coordinates of that orca, you know, the mama orca with the baby. I want to see that guy.

Rich: Hey, is that pilot on? I want to know what this weather is going to be like in the Olympics (mountains).

Air traffic control: Well, if you can see the Olympics, the weather’s good. I can see the Olympics from my window, and it looks pretty good over there.

Rich: Alright, ’cause I felt some, what felt like turbulence around Rainer, but there was no clouds hardly.

Air traffic control: Oh, that’s just the wind blowing over all over the bumpy surfaces there.

Captain Bill: Alright Rich, this is Captain Bill. Congratulations, you did that, now let’s try to land that airplane safely and not hurt anyone on the ground.

Rich: Alright, damnit, I don’t know man, I don’t know. I don’t want to… I was kind of hoping that would be it, you know.

Rich: I’m gonna land it, in a safe kind of manner. I think I’m gonna try to do a barrel roll, and if that goes good, I’m just gonna nose down and call it a night.

Air traffic control: Well Rich, before you do that, let’s think about this. I’ve got another pilot coming up, pilot Joel, in just a minute here I hope. And we’ll be able to give you some advice on what to do next.

Rich: I feel like one of my engines is going out or something.

Air traffic control: OK Rich, if you could, you just want to keep that plane right over the water. Maybe keep the aircraft nice and low.

Rich: Just kind of lightheaded, dizzy. Man, the sights went by so fast. I was thinking, like, I’m going to have this moment of serenity, take in all the sights. There’s a lot of pretty stuff, but they’re prettier in a different context.

Air traffic control: Do you have any idea of how much fuel you have left?

Rich: Oh man, not enough. Not enough to get by. Like, uh, 760? 760 pounds?

Air traffic control: Just flying around the plane, you seem comfortable with that?

Rich: Oh hell yeah, it’s a blast. I’ve played video games before so I know what I’m doing a little bit.

Air traffic control: OK, and you can see all the terrain around you, you’ve got no issue with visibility or anything?

Rich: Naw, everything’s peachy, peachy clean. Just did a little circle around Rainer, it’s beautiful. I think I’ve got some gas to go check out the Olympics (mountains).

Rich: I wouldn’t know how to land it, I wasn’t really planning on landing it.

Rich: Sorry, my mic came off, I threw up a little bit. I’m sorry about this, I hope this doesn’t ruin your day.

Rich: Man, have you been to the Olympics? These guys are gorgeous, holy smokes.

Air traffic control: Ya, I have been out there, it’s always a nice drive.

Rich: (inaudible)

Air traffic control: Hey I bet you do. I haven’t done much hiking over there. But if you could start a left turn, and back towards the east. I know you’re getting a good view there, but if you go too much farther in that direction I won’t be able to hear you anymore.

Rich: Hey pilot guy, can this thing do a backflip, you think?

Rich: I wouldn’t mind just shooting the s**t with you guys, but it’s all business, you know?

During a press conference on Saturday morning NTSB investigator Debra Eckrote said they are trying to determine ‘what his process was and where the aircraft was going’.

‘He’s ground support so, you know, they have access to aircraft,’ she said, adding that that we’re ‘very lucky’ the plane went down on a ‘very underpopulated island’.

She said the plane came to rest in a thick underbrush on Ketron Island, and first responders had to ‘blaze a trail’ to get to the wreckage.

Eckrote said the plane is ‘highly fragmented’ and the wings were torn off in the crash. She said responders could not identify a lot Friday night because there was a fire, but they were taking Saturday to ‘focus on the areas that we’re looking for’.

Eckrote called the incident ‘very usual’ and said the FBI were doing a background check on Russell to determine a motive.

‘Last night’s event is going to push us to learn what we can from this tragedy so that we can ensure this does not happen again at Alaska Air Group or at any other airline,’ said Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Airlines.

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said on Saturday morning that president Trump was briefed on the incident and was monitoring the situation. She also praised the response effort for its ‘swift action’ and ensuring public safety.

Ferry workers stand by as fire trucks are driven onto a ferry boat headed to Ketron Island, Friday, Aug. 10

Ferry workers stand by as fire trucks are driven onto a ferry boat headed to Ketron Island, Friday, Aug. 10

Alaska Airlines, which owns Horizon Air, confirmed that the plane had taken off without permission and later crashed on Ketron Island

Alaska Airlines, which owns Horizon Air, confirmed that the plane had taken off without permission and later crashed on Ketron Island

Police said the pilot was a 29-year-old employee from Pierce County, Washington. They said he was acting alone and was 'suicidal'. His name has not yet been released

Police said the pilot was a 29-year-old employee from Pierce County, Washington. They said he was acting alone and was ‘suicidal’. His name has not yet been released

The FBI released a statement just before midnight in Seattle that they did not anticipate any further details tonight

The FBI released a statement just before midnight in Seattle that they did not anticipate any further details tonight

A map showing Ketron Island, a heavily wooded area inhabited by 24 people, according to the 2000 census

At one point in the flight, Russell asked air traffic controllers: ‘Hey do you think if I land this successfully Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?’

The air traffic controller, trying to keep him on side, replied ‘you know, I think they would give you a job doing anything if you could pull this off’, to which Rich replied: ‘Yeah right! Nah, I’m a white guy.’

He was also heard telling traffic controllers he was ‘just a broken guy’ before telling them he was preparing to go jail.

‘This is probably jail time for life, huh? I would hope it is for a guy like me,’ he said.

Once again, traffic control tried to get Russell to land.

‘There is the runway just off your right side in about a mile, do you see that?’ the traffic controller said.

‘Oh those guys will try to rough me up if I try land there…,’ Russell replied. ‘I think I might mess something up there too. I wouldn’t want to do that. Oh they probably have got anti-aircraft.’

‘They don’t have any of that stuff, we are just trying to find you a place to land safely,’ the traffic controller responded.

Russell told the air traffic controller he wasn’t ‘quite ready’ to bring the plane down.

‘But holy smokes I need to stop looking at the fuel ‘cos it’s going down quick,’ he added.

‘OK, Rich, if you could, could you start a left-hand turn and we’ll take you down to the south-east,’ the traffic controller said.

Air Alaska passengers wait in the terminal following the hijacking incident, which grounded planes and led to several flights being delayed

Air Alaska passengers wait in the terminal following the hijacking incident, which grounded planes and led to several flights being delayed

A large Alaska Air aircraft maintenance building is viewed on takeoff from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in this undated file photo

A large Alaska Air aircraft maintenance building is viewed on takeoff from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in this undated file photo

Ketron Island, where the plane went down, is a densely wooded area home to 24 people, according to the 2000 census. None of the island’s residents were thought to have been harmed.

Royal King told The Seattle Times he was photographing a wedding when he saw the low-flying turboprop being chased by to F-15s. He said he didn’t see the crash but saw smoke.

‘It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie,’ he told the newspaper. ‘The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low.’

Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the U.S. West.

Sea-Tac is the ninth busiest airport in the US, and flew 46.9 million passengers and more than 425,800 metric tons of air cargo in 2017.

  • For confidential support in the US call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255. 
  • For confidential support in the UK call the Samaritans on 116123 or visit a local Samaritans branch, see http://www.samaritans.org for details.
  • For confidential support in Australia call the Lifeline 24-hour crisis support on 13 11 14.

HOW WAS SEATTLE AIRLINE EMPLOYEE ABLE TO HIJACK JET?

Investigators have been working to determine how Horizon Air employee Richard Russell was able to steal an empty turboprop plane from Sea-Tac Airport and take it for an hour-long joyride that ended in a fiery crash on an island in the Puget Sound.

The 29-year-old reportedly stole the Horizon Air Q400 jet from the maintenance area and took to the skies around 8pm Friday, despite not having any apparent flying experience.

It remains unclear how he was able to gain access to the aircraft and fly it out of the airport undetected.

‘We don’t know how he learned to do that,’ Horizon CEO Gary Beck told reporters when asked how Russell was able to perform loop-the-loop and barrels while flying the aircraft.

‘Commercial aircraft are complex machines. No idea how he achieved that experience.’

Russell has worked for Horizon Air at Seattle-Tacoma Airport for nearly four years, according to his LinkedIn account, as a ground service agent and an operations agent.

The bizarre incident involving a worker authorities said was suicidal points to one of the biggest potential perils for commercial air travel – airline or airport employees causing mayhem.

‘The greatest threat we have to aviation is the insider threat,’ Erroll Southers, a former FBI agent and transportation security expert, told AP.

‘Here we have an employee who was vetted to the level to have access to the aircraft and had a skill set proficient enough to take off with that plane.’

The Friday night crash happened because the 29-year-old man was ‘doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills,’ the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said. The man, who was believed killed, wasn’t immediately identified.

Video showed the Horizon Air Q400 doing large loops and other dangerous maneuvers as the sun set on Puget Sound. There were no passengers aboard.

The plane was pursued by military aircraft before it crashed on tiny Ketron Island, southwest of Tacoma, Washington. Video showed fiery flames amid trees on the island, which is sparsely populated and only accessible by ferry. No structures on the ground were damaged, Alaska Airlines said.

Authorities initially said Russell was a mechanic, but Alaska Airlines later said he was believed to be a ground service agent employed by Horizon. Those employees direct aircraft for takeoff and gate approach and de-ice planes.

Sheriff’s department officials said they were working with the FBI in investigating the man’s background and trying to determine his motive.

Investigators expect they will be able to recover both the cockpit voice recorder and the event data recorder from the plane.

Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden said in a statement early Saturday morning that the airline was ‘working to find out everything we possibly can about what happened.’

The airline was coordinating with the Federal Aviation Administration, the FBI and the National Transportation Safety Board, he said.

“Suicidal” Airline Employee Steals Plane, Takes it for A Flight Before Crashing

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/08/suicidal-airline-employee-steals-plane-takes-it-for-a-joyride-before-crashing.html

 

Story 3: Big Google Is Watching Your Movements and So It Big Brother — Videos —

Google Tracks Your Movements, Like It Or Not

Google Could Be Tracking Your Movements

Google is tracking you. Even when you’re in Airplane Mode

Published on Feb 10, 2018

How the police use Google to track your every move

What Google Knows About You

 

AP Exclusive: Google tracks your movements, like it or not

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google wants to know where you go so badly that it records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to.

An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.

Computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed these findings at the AP’s request.

For the most part, Google is upfront about asking permission to use your location information. An app like Google Maps will remind you to allow access to location if you use it for navigating. If you agree to let it record your location over time, Google Maps will display that history for you in a “timeline” that maps out your daily movements.

Storing your minute-by-minute travels carries privacy risks and has been used by police to determine the location of suspects — such as a warrant that police in Raleigh, North Carolina, served on Google last year to find devices near a murder scene. So the company lets you “pause” a setting called Location History.

Google says that will prevent the company from remembering where you’ve been. Google’s support page on the subjectstates: “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

That isn’t true. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking. (It’s possible, although laborious, to delete it .)

For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app. Automatic daily weather updates on Android phones pinpoint roughly where you are. And some searches that have nothing to do with location, like “chocolate chip cookies,” or “kids science kits,” pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude — accurate to the square foot — and save it to your Google account.

The privacy issue affects some two billion users of devices that run Google’s Android operating software and hundreds of millions of worldwide iPhone users who rely on Google for maps or search.

Storing location data in violation of a user’s preferences is wrong, said Jonathan Mayer, a Princeton computer scientist and former chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement bureau. A researcher from Mayer’s lab confirmed the AP’s findings on multiple Android devices; the AP conducted its own tests on several iPhones that found the same behavior.

“If you’re going to allow users to turn off something called ‘Location History,’ then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off,” Mayer said. “That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have.”

Google says it is being perfectly clear.

“There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to the AP. “We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.”

Google’s explanation did not convince several lawmakers.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia told the AP it is “frustratingly common” for technology companies “to have corporate practices that diverge wildly from the totally reasonable expectations of their users,” and urged policies that would give users more control of their data. Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey called for “comprehensive consumer privacy and data security legislation” in the wake of the AP report.

To stop Google from saving these location markers, the company says, users can turn off another setting, one that does not specifically reference location information. Called “Web and App Activity” and enabled by default, that setting stores a variety of information from Google apps and websites to your Google account.

When paused, it will prevent activity on any device from being saved to your account. But leaving “Web & App Activity” on and turning “Location History” off only prevents Google from adding your movements to the “timeline,” its visualization of your daily travels. It does not stop Google’s collection of other location markers.

You can delete these location markers by hand, but it’s a painstaking process since you have to select them individually, unless you want to delete all of your stored activity.

You can see the stored location markers on a page in your Google account at myactivity.google.com, although they’re typically scattered under several different headers, many of which are unrelated to location.

To demonstrate how powerful these other markers can be, the AP created a visual map of the movements of Princeton postdoctoral researcher Gunes Acar, who carried an Android phone with Location history off, and shared a record of his Google account.

The map includes Acar’s train commute on two trips to New York and visits to The High Line park, Chelsea Market, Hell’s Kitchen, Central Park and Harlem. To protect his privacy, The AP didn’t plot the most telling and frequent marker — his home address.

Huge tech companies are under increasing scrutiny over their data practices, following a series of privacy scandals at Facebook and new data-privacy rules recently adopted by the European Union. Last year, the business news site Quartz found that Google was tracking Android users by collecting the addresses of nearby cellphone towers even if all location services were off. Google changed the practice and insisted it never recorded the data anyway.

Critics say Google’s insistence on tracking its users’ locations stems from its drive to boost advertising revenue.

“They build advertising information out of data,” said Peter Lenz, the senior geospatial analyst at Dstillery, a rival advertising technology company. “More data for them presumably means more profit.”

The AP learned of the issue from K. Shankari, a graduate researcher at UC Berkeley who studies the commuting patterns of volunteers in order to help urban planners. She noticed that her Android phone prompted her to rate a shopping trip to Kohl’s, even though she had turned Location History off.

“So how did Google Maps know where I was?” she asked in a blog post .

The AP wasn’t able to recreate Shankari’s experience exactly. But its attempts to do so revealed Google’s tracking. The findings disturbed her.

“I am not opposed to background location tracking in principle,” she said. “It just really bothers me that it is not explicitly stated.”

Google offers a more accurate description of how Location History actually works in a place you’d only see if you turn it off — a popup that appears when you “pause” Location History on your Google account webpage . There the company notes that “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other Google services, like Search and Maps.”

Google offers additional information in a popup that appears if you re-activate the “Web & App Activity” setting — an uncommon action for many users, since this setting is on by default. That popup states that, when active, the setting “saves the things you do on Google sites, apps, and services … and associated information, like location.”

Warnings when you’re about to turn Location History off via Android and iPhone device settings are more difficult to interpret. On Android, the popup explains that “places you go with your devices will stop being added to your Location History map.” On the iPhone, it simply reads, “None of your Google apps will be able to store location data in Location History.”

The iPhone text is technically true if potentially misleading. With Location History off, Google Maps and other apps store your whereabouts in a section of your account called “My Activity,” not “Location History.”

Since 2014, Google has let advertisers track the effectiveness of online ads at driving foot traffic , a feature that Google has said relies on user location histories.

The company is pushing further into such location-aware tracking to drive ad revenue, which rose 20 percent last year to $95.4 billion. At a Google Marketing Live summit in July, Google executives unveiled a new tool called “local campaigns” that dynamically uses ads to boost in-person store visits. It says it can measure how well a campaign drove foot traffic with data pulled from Google users’ location histories.

Google also says location records stored in My Activity are used to target ads. Ad buyers can target ads to specific locations — say, a mile radius around a particular landmark — and typically have to pay more to reach this narrower audience.

While disabling “Web & App Activity” will stop Google from storing location markers, it also prevents Google from storing information generated by searches and other activity. That can limit the effectiveness of the Google Assistant, the company’s digital concierge.

Sean O’Brien, a Yale Privacy Lab researcher with whom the AP shared its findings, said it is “disingenuous” for Google to continuously record these locations even when users disable Location History. “To me, it’s something people should know,” he said.

https://apnews.com/828aefab64d4411bac257a07c1af0ecb/AP-Exclusive:-Google-tracks-your-movements,-like-it-or-not

 

Story 4: Alex Jones and Infowars More Popular Than Even Despite Corporate Censorship Conspiracy — Anti-American Leftist Great Purge of Pro Americans Viewpoints — Let The Lawsuits Begin — Videos

First, They Came For Alex Jones

THE SILENCING OF ALEX JONES

Alex Jones talks about being kick off all Socialist media platforms.

Twitter says Infowars’ Alex Jones hasn’t violated any rules

The free speech debate over Sarah Jeong and Alex Jones

Ingraham: Big tech and the new corporate censorship

Jordan Peterson Reacts to ALEX JONES Being DEPLATFORMED

Published on Aug 9, 2018
Jordan Peterson joins Steven Crowder to discuss Alex Jones/Info Wars being banned from various social media/tech sites and how it relates to the free speech issue.

Alex Jones Censored From Facebook, iTunes

First They Came For Alex Jones…

Roger Stone on Alex Jones Being Scrubbed From The Internet

ALEX JONES CENSORED

Alex Jones and Erasing Internet History

The REAL reason for the Alex Jones, InfoWars ban — and why more purges are coming

Michael Malice on Social Media, Alex Jones, and What’s Coming Next

Alex Jones Is My Hero (my reaction to Jones censorship)

‘Censorship’ is killing social media — but there is a new hope!

Double Standard? Try No Standard. Conservative Activist Suspended From Twitter for Schizoid Reason.

“If you don’t like America, you can GET OUT!”

Infowars Fires Back After Apple, Facebook, YouTube Remove Alex Jones Content

The Take Down of Alex Jones- Why This Is a Big Issue

Alex Jones BREAKS SILENCE on ban

 

Bans don’t seem to be lessening reach of Alex Jones, InfoWars

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The Pronk Pops Show 1115, Story 1: War of Words: Islamic Republic of Iran Major General Qassem Soleimani Warns United States and Trump — Waiting For President Trump Tweet Response — Videos — Story 2: Vice President Pence Talks Turkey: Free Pastor or Face U.S. Sanctions — Release Now — Videos — Story 2: House Republicans Trying To Impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosestein — Trump Will Fire Rosestein After Midterm Elections and Attorney General Sessions Will Either Appoint Second Counsel or Trump Will Accept Resignation — Videos — Story 4: Special Counsel Mueller Goes After President Trump’s Tweets — Desperation Move — Complete Investigation or Face Firing — Videos

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You may start the war but we will end it: Soleimani warns Trump

Who is Qasem Soleimani?

Iran’s revolutionary guard explained

Is this Iranian the most powerful man in Iraq? – Newsnight

President Trump: U.S. Won’t Stand For Iranian President’s ‘Demented Words’ | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC

Sebastian Gorka: Trump understands how fragile Iran is

Iranian President Warns Trump Not To ‘Play With The Lion’s Tail’

The Middle East’s cold war, explained

US vs Iran – Strait of Hormuz

The differences and similarities between Sunni and Shia Isalm

10 Differences Between Shia and Sunni Muslims

 

Story 1: Islamic Republic of Iran Threatens United States Again — Waiting For President Trump Tweet Response — Videos

Trump Tower in ruins? Iranian special forces leader warns Trump that war ‘will destroy everything you own’ and boasted that ‘nation of martyrdom’ can strike U.S. military

  • Major General Qassem Soleimani warned Trump in a speech that a war with Iran would ‘destroy everything you own’
  • The boast may be a suggestion that terrorists aided by Iran’s military are prepared to strike the president’s real estate properties
  • Soleimani said U.S. military in the Red Sea area are not secure: ‘Trump should know that we are nation of martyrdom and that we await him’
  • Trump softened his tone toward Iran this week and said he might be ready for a new nuclear deal
  • That came after he warned Iran’s president that he would ‘SUFFER CONSEQUENCES’ for threatening the U.S.

The general in charge of Iran‘s elite paramilitary Quds Forces warned Donald Trumpon Thursday that war with the Islamist country would eliminate his entire net worth, suggesting terrorists aided by Iran’s military are prepared to strike his real estate properties.

‘You know that this war will destroy everything you own,’ Major General Qassem Soleimani said during a speech in the central Iranian city of Hamedan.

He also said the Red Sea is not secure while U.S. troops are deployed in the area: ‘Trump should know that we are nation of martyrdom and that we await him.’

‘We are near you, where you can’t even imagine … Come. We are ready. If you begin the war, we will end the war,’ he boasted.

Iranian Quds Forces commander Major General Qassem Soleimani warned Trump in a speech that a war with Iran would 'destroy everything you own'

Trump had already softened his tone toward Iran this week and said he might be ready for a new nuclear deal

The latest Iranian boast may be a suggestion that terrorists aided by Tehran's military are prepared to strike the president's real estate properties

‘You have to be careful about insulting the Iranian people and the president of our Republic.’

Iran this week dismissed a warning from Trump that Tehran risked dire consequences if it made threats against the United States.

Trump softened his threatening tone on Tuesday, just two days after he blasted an allcaps warning about ‘consequences’ for Tehran’s anti-U.S. rhetoric.

Addressing the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Trump took credit for pulling the U.S. out of the Obama-era Iran nuclear accord, but said his administration stands ready for Iran to come back to the negotiating table.

Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate would be an appetizing target for America's enemies

The president warned Iran's president Sunday night not to provoke him

The president warned Iran’s president Sunday night not to provoke him

‘We’re ready to make a real deal, not the deal that was done by the previous administration, which was a disaster,’ he said.

Late Sunday night he tweeted to Rouhani: ‘NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE.’

Rouhani had claimed that ‘Iran is the mother of all peace’ before warning Trump that ‘war with Iran is the mother of all wars.’

‘Don’t play with fire, or you will regret [it],’ the Iranian leader continued. ‘Iranian people are the master and they will never bow to anyone.’

Iran President warns Trump not to take military action

Soleimani, who as Quds Force commander is in charge of the Revolutionary Guards’ overseas operations, put his disdain for Trump in more personal terms.

‘Trump’s language is still the ethics of nightclubs and gambling halls,’ he said Thursday.

His threat directed at U.S. troops in the Red Sea area came as Saudi Arabia said it was temporarily halting all oil shipments through the strategic shipping lane of Bab al-Mandeb, following an attack on two oil tankers by Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

Yemen, where a U.S-backed, Saudi-led coalition has been battling the Houthis for three years, lies beside the southern mouth of the Red Sea, one of the most important trade routes in the world for oil tankers.

 

ww.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5995587/Iranian-special-forces-leader-warns-Trump-war-destroy-own.html

 

Qasem Soleimani

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Sardar
Qasem Soleimani
Sardar Qasem Soleimani-01.jpg
Native name قاسم سلیمانی
Nickname(s) Haj Qasem” (among supporters)[1]

“The Shadow Commander” (in the West)[2][3][4][5][6]

Born 11 March 1957 (age 61)
Qanat-e MalekKermanImperial State of Iran
Allegiance Iran
Service/branch Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
Years of service 1979–present
Rank Major general
Unit Quds Force
Commands held 41st Tharallah Division of Kerman
Quds Force
Battles/wars

show

See battles
Awards Fath Medal.jpg Fath Medal of Honor (3)[14]

Qasem Soleimani (Persianقاسم سلیمانی‎, born 11 March 1957) is an Iranian Major General in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and since 1998 commander of its Quds Force—a division primarily responsible for extraterritorial military and clandestine operations.[15]

A veteran military officer of the Iran–Iraq War of the 1980s with a humble background, he has been active in many conflicts in the rest of the Middle East, especially in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, while maintaining a very low profile. His methods have been a blend of military and financial assistance to Shiite allies and hard-nosed strategic diplomacy. It has long provided military assistance to anti-Saddam Shia and Kurdish groups in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in the Palestinian territories. In 2012, Soleimani helped bolster the Syrian government, a key Iranian ally, during the Syrian Civil War. Soleimani also assisted in the command of combined Iraqi government and Shia militia forces that advanced against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in 2014–2015.[16]

 

Background

Soleimani was born in Qanat-e Malek village, Rabor CountyKerman Province, to an impoverished peasant family. In his youth, he moved to the city of Kerman and worked as a construction worker to help repay a debt his father owed. In 1975, he began working as a contractor for the Kerman Water Organization.[17] When not at work, he spent his time lifting weights in local gyms and attending the sermons of a traveling preacher by the name of Hojjat Kamyab – a protege of Ayatollah Khomeini.[18]

Military Career

Soleimani joined the Revolutionary war Guard (IRGC) in 1979 following the Iranian Revolution, which saw the Shah fall and Ayatollah Khomeini take power. Reportedly, his training was minimal, but he advanced rapidly. Early in his career as a guardsman, he was stationed in northwestern Iran, and participated in the suppression of a Kurdish separatist uprising in West Azerbaijan Province.[18]

On 22 September 1980, when Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of Iran, setting off the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988), Suleimani joined the battlefield serving as the leader of a military company, consisting of men from Kerman whom he personally assembled and trained.[19] He quickly earned a reputation for bravery,[20] and rose through the ranks because of his role in the successful operations in retaking the lands Iraq had occupied, eventually becoming the commander of the 41st Sarallah Division while still in his 20s, participating in most major operations. He was mostly stationed at the southern front[19][21] He was heavily injured in Operation Tariq-ol-Qods. In a 1990 interview, he mentions Operation Fath-ol-Mobin as “the best” operation he participated in and “very memorable”, due to its difficulties yet positive outcome.[22] He was also engaged in leading and organizing irregular warfare missions deep inside Iraq carried out by the Ramadan Headquarters. It was at this point that Suleimani established relations with Kurdish Iraqi leaders and the Shia Badr Organization, both of which opposed to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein.[19]

On July 17, 1985, Soleimani opposed the IRGC leadership’s plan to deploy forces to two islands in western Arvandroud (Shatt al-Arab).[23]

After the war, during the 1990s, he was an IRGC commander in Kerman Province.[21] In this region, which is relatively close to Afghanistan, Afghan-grown opium travels to Turkey and onto Europe. Soleimani’s military experience helped him earn a reputation as a successful fighter against drug trafficking.[18]

During the 1999 student revolt in Tehran, Soleiman was one of the IRGC officers who signed a letter to President Mohammad Khatami. The letter stated that if Khatami did not crush the student rebellion the military would, and might also launch a coup against Khatami.[18][24]

Command of Quds Force

The exact date of his appointment as commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force is not clear, but Ali Alfoneh cites it as between 10 September 1997 and 21 March 1998.[17] He was considered one of the possible successors to the post of commander of the IRGC, when General Yahya Rahim Safavi left this post in 2007. In 2008, he led a group of Iranian investigators looking into the death of Imad Mughniyah. Soleimani helped arrange a ceasefire between the Iraqi Army and Mahdi Army in March 2008.[25]

Following the September 11 attacks of 2001, Ryan Crocker, a senior State Department official in the United States, flew to Geneva to meet with Iranian diplomats who were under the direction of Soleimani with the purpose of collaborating to destroy the Taliban, which had targeted Shia Afghanis.[18] This collaboration was instrumental in defining the targets of bombing operations in Afghanistan and in capturing key Al Qaeda operatives, but abruptly ended in January 2002, when George W Bush named Iran as part of the “Axis of evil” in his State of the Union address.[18]

In 2009, a leaked report stated that General Soleimani met Christopher R. Hill and General Raymond T. Odierno (America’s two most senior officials in Baghdad at the time) in the office of Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani (who has known General Soleimani for decades). Hill and General Odierno denied the occurrence of the meeting.[26]

On 24 January 2011, Soleimani was promoted to Major General by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.[21][27] Khamenei is described as having a close relationship with him, helping him financially and has called Soleimani a “living martyr”.[18]

Soleimani has been described as “the single most powerful operative in the Middle East today” and the principal military strategist and tactician in Iran’s effort to combat Western influence and promote the expansion of Shiite and Iranian influence throughout the Middle East.[18] In Iraq, as the commander of the Quds force, he is believed to have strongly influenced the organization of the Iraqi government, notably supporting the election of previous Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki.[18][28] Soleimani has even been described as being “Iran’s very own Erwin Rommel“.[29]

According to some sources, Soleimani is the principal leader and architect of the military wing of the Lebanese Shia party Hezbollah since his appointment as Quds commander in 1998.[18]

Syrian Civil War

A map of Al-Qusayr and its environs. The Al-Qusayr offensive was allegedly masterminded by Soleimani[30]

According to several sources, including Riad Hijab, a former Syrian premier who defected in August 2012, he is also one of the staunchest supporters of the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War.[18][28] In the later half of 2012, Soleimani assumed personal control of the Iranian intervention in the Syrian civil war, when Iranians became deeply concerned about the Assad government’s lack of ability to fight the opposition, and the fallout to the Islamic Republic if the Syrian government fell. He is reported to have coordinated the war from a base in Damascus at which a Lebanese Hezbollah commander and an Iraqi Shiite militia coordinator have been mobilized, in addition to Syrian and Iranian officers. Brigadier General Hossein Hamadani, the Basij’s former deputy commander helps to run irregular militias that Soleimani hopes to continue the fight if Assad falls.[18] Under Soleimani the command has “coordinated attacks, trained militias, and set up an elaborate system to monitor rebel communications”. According to a Middle Eastern security official Dexter Filkins talked to, thousands of Quds Force and Iraqi Shiite militiamen in Syria are “spread out across the entire country.”[18] The retaking of Qusayr in May 2013 from Syrian rebels was, according to John Maguire, a former CIA officer in Iraq, “orchestrated” by Soleimani.[18]

He is widely credited with delivering the strategy that has helped President Bashar al-Assad turn the tide against rebel forces and recapture key cities and towns.[31] The details of his involvement however are little known but many events from the training of government allied militias and coordination of decisive military offensives[18] to the sighting of Iranian UAVs & spy-drones in Syria, strongly suggest that his command (the Quds force) is heavily involved in many aspects of the civil war.[18] In a visit to the Lebanese capital Beirut on Thursday 29 Jan 2015, Soleimani laid wreaths at the graves of the slain Hezbollah members, including Emad Mughniyah, the son of late Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyah which strengthens some possibilities about his role in Hezbollah military reaction on Israel.[32]

Soleimani helped in formation of the National Defence Forces (NDF) in Syria.

In October 2015, it was reported that he had been instrumental in devising during his visit to Moscow in July 2015 the Russian-Iranian-Syrian offensive in October 2015.[33]

War on ISIS in Iraq

The east of Saladin Province in Iraq where Qasem Soleimani was involved in breaking the Siege of Amirli by ISIS[34]

Qasem Soleimani was in the Iraqi city of Amerli, to work with the Iraqi forces to push back militants from ISIS.[35][36] According to the Los Angeles Times, which reported that Amerli was the first town to successfully withstand an ISIS invasion, it was secured thanks to “an unusual partnership of Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers, Iranian-backed Shiite militias and U.S. warplanes”. The US acted as a force multiplier for a number of Iranian-backed arm groups—at the same time that was present on the battlefield.[37][38]

A senior Iraqi official told the BBC that when the city of Mosul fell, the rapid reaction of Iran, rather than American bombing, was what prevented a more widespread collapse.[9] Qasem Soleimani also seems to have been instrumental in planning the operation to relieve Amirli in Saladin province where ISIS had laid siege to an important city.[34] In fact the Quds force operatives under Soleimani’s command seem to have been deeply involved with not only the Iraqi army and Shi’ite militias but also the Kurdish in the battle of Amirli,[39] not only providing liaisons for intelligence sharing but also the supply of arms and munitions in addition to “providing expertise”.[40]

In the operation to liberate Jurf Al Sakhar, he was reportedly “present on the battlefield”. Some Shia militia commanders described Soleimani as “fearless”—one pointing out that the Iranian general never wears a flak jacket, even on the front lines.[41]

Soleimani was also intimately involved in the planning & execution of the operation to liberate Tikrit[42][43]

Hadi al-Amiri, the former Iraqi minister of transportation and the head of the Badr Organization [an official Iraqi political party whose military wing is one of the largest armed forces in the country] highlighted the pivotal role of General Qasem Soleimani in defending Iraq’s Kurdistan Region against the ISIL terrorist group, maintaining that if it were not for Iran, Heidar al-Ebadi’s government would have been a government-in-exile right now.[44] and he added there would be no Iraq if Gen. Soleimani hadn’t helped us.[45]

There were reports by some Western sources that Soleimani has been seriously wounded in action against ISIL in Samarra. The claim was rejected by Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.[46]

Soleimani played an integral role in the organisation and planning of the crucial operation to retake the city of Tikrit in Iraq from ISIS. The city of Tikrit rests on the left bank of the Tigris river and is the largest and most important city between Baghdad and Mosul, gifting it a high strategic value. The city fell to ISIS during 2014 when ISIS made immense gains in northern and central Iraq. After its capture, ISIL performed its most infamous massacre at Camp Speicher. After months of careful preparation and intelligence gathering an offensive to encircle and capture Tikrit was launched in early March 2015.[43] Soleimani is directing the operations on the eastern flank from a village about 35 miles from Tikrit called Albu Rayash, captured over the weekend. The offensive is the biggest military operation in the Salahuddin region since last summer, when ISIS fighters killed hundreds of Iraq army soldiers who had abandoned their military base at Camp Speicher outside Tikrit.

Orchestration of military escalation in 2015

In 2015 Soleimani started to gather support from various sources in order to combat the newly resurgent ISIL and rebel groups which were both successful in taking large swathes of territory away from Assad’s forces. He was reportedly the main architect of the joint intervention involving Russia as a new partner with Assad and Hezbollah.[47][48][49]

According to Reuters, at a meeting in Moscow in July, Soleimani unfurled a map of Syria to explain to his Russian hosts how a series of defeats for President Bashar al-Assad could be turned into victory—with Russia’s help. Qasem Soleimani’s visit to Moscow was the first step in planning for a Russian military intervention that has reshaped the Syrian war and forged a new Iranian–Russian alliance in support of the Syrian (and Iraqi) governments. Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei also sent a senior envoy to Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin. “Putin reportedly told the envoy ‘Okay we will intervene. Send Qassem Soleimani’. Gen. Soleimani went to explain the map of the theatre and coordinate the strategic escalation of military forces in Syria.[48]

Operations in Aleppo

Map of the offensive.[50][51][52][53][54][55]

Soleimani, who assumed overall command in the Aleppo offensives of 2015,[citation needed] had a decisive impact on the theatre of operations and led to a strong advance in southern Aleppo with the government and allied forces re-capturing two military bases and dozens of towns and villages in a matter of weeks. There was also a series of major advances towards Kuweiris air-base to the north-east.[56] By mid-November, the Syrian army and its allies had gained ground in southern areas of Aleppo Governorate, capturing numerous rebel strongholds. Soleimani was reported to have personally led the drive deep into the southern Aleppo countryside where many towns and villages fell into government hands. Soleimani reportedly commanded the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division, Hezbollah, Harakat Al-Nujaba (Iraqi), Kata’ib Hezbollah (Iraqi), Liwaa Abu Fadl Al-Abbas (Iraqi), and Firqa Fatayyemoun (Afghan/Iranian volunteers).[57]

It is unclear whether or not the General sustained possibly grave injuries, but in response to reports about his injury[58] during the southwest Aleppo operation, he is quoted as saying, “Martyrdom is what I seek in mountains and valleys, but it isn’t granted yet”.[59]

In early February 2016, backed by Russian and Syrian air force airstrikes, the 4th Mechanized Division – in close coordination with Hezbollah, the National Defense Forces (NDF), Kata’eb Hezbollah, and Harakat Al-Nujaba – launched an offensive in Aleppo Governorate’s northern countryside,[60] which eventually broke the three-year siege of Nubl and Al-Zahraa and cut off rebel’s main supply route from Turkey. According to a senior, non-Syrian security source close to Damascus, Iranian fighters played a crucial role in the conflict. “Qassem Soleimani is there in the same area”, he said.[61] In December 2016, new photos emerged of Soleimani at the Citadel of Aleppo, though the exact date of the photos is unknown.[62][63]

Operations in 2017

In late March 2017, Soleimani was seen in the northern Hama Governorate countryside, reportedly aiding Maj. Gen. Suheil al-Hassan in repelling a major rebel offensive.[13]

CIA’s chief, Mike Pompeo, said that he sent Soleimani and other Iranian leaders a letter holding them responsible for any attacks on US interests by forces under their control. According to Mohammad Mohammadi Golpayegani, a senior aide for the country’s supreme leader, Soleimani ignored the letter when it was handed over to him while he was in the Abu Kamal offensive against ISIL, saying “I will not take your letter nor read it and I have nothing to say to these people.”[64][65]

In popular culture

General Soleimani in civil dress during a public ceremony in 2013

He is said to have a calm presence about him,[66] carry himself “inconspicuously and rarely raises his voice”, exhibiting “understated charisma“.[20] In Western sources, Qassem Suleimani’s personality has been compared to the fictional characters KarlaKeyser Söze,[20] and Scarlet Pimpernel.[67]

The 2016 award-winning movie Bodyguard, directed by Ebrahim Hatamikia, was inspired by Soleimani’s activities.[68]

The 2016 Persian book Noble Comrades 17: Hajj Qassem, written by Ali Akbari Mozdabadi, contains memoirs of Qassem Soleimani.[69]

Hadi Al-Ameri the head of the Badr Organization in Iraq says about him: “If Qasem Soleimani was not present in Iraq, Haidar al-Ibadi should form his cabinet out of Iraqi borders”.[70]

In politics

In 1999, Soleimani, along with other senior IRGC commanders, signed a letter to then-President Mohammad Khatami regarding the student protests in July. They wrote “Dear Mr. Khatami, how long do we have to shed tears, sorrow over the events, practice democracy by chaos and insults, and have revolutionary patience at the expense of sabotaging the system? Dear president, if you don’t make a revolutionary decision and act according to your Islamic and national missions, tomorrow will be so late and irrecoverable that cannot be even imagined.”[71]

Iranian media reported in 2012 that he might be replaced as the commander of Quds Force in order to allow him to run in the 2013 presidential election.[72] He reportedly refused to be nominated for the election.[71] According to BBC, in 2015 a campaign started among conservative bloggers for Soleimani to stand for 2017 presidential election.[73] In 2016, he was speculated as a possible candidate,[71][74] however in a statement published on 15 September 2016, he called speculations about his candidacy as “divisive reports by the enemies” and said he will “always remain a simple soldier serving Iran and the Islamic Revolution”.[75]

Personal life

Qasem Soleimani is from Kerman. His father was a farmer who died in 2017. His mother, Fatemeh died in 2013.[76] He comes from a family of nine and has five sisters and one brother, Sohrab, who lived and worked with Soleimani in his youth.[77] Sohrab Soleimani is a warden and former director general of the Tehran Prisons Organization. U.S. put sanctions on him in April 2017 “for his role in abuses in Iranian prisons”.[78]

Soleimani has Dan in karate and was a fitness trainer in his youth. He has four children: two sons and two daughters.[79]

Sanctions

In March 2007, Soleimani was included on a list of Iranian individuals targeted with sanctions in United Nations Security Council Resolution 1747.[80] On 18 May 2011, he was sanctioned again by the United States along with Syrian president Bashar Assad and other senior Syrian officials due to his alleged involvement in providing material support to the Syrian government.[81]

On 24 June 2011, the Official Journal of the European Union said the three Iranian Revolutionary Guard members now subject to sanctions had been “providing equipment and support to help the Syrian government suppress protests in Syria”.[82] The Iranians added to the EU sanctions list were two Revolutionary Guard commanders, Soleimani, Mohammad Ali Jafari, and the Guard’s deputy commander for intelligence, Hossein Taeb.[83] Soleimani was also sanctioned by the Swiss government in September 2011 due to the same grounds cited by the European Union.[84]

He is listed by the United States as a known terrorist, which forbids U.S. citizens from doing business with him.[25][85] The list, published in the EU’s Official Journal on 24 June 2011, also includes a Syrian property firm, an investment fund and two other enterprises accused of funding Assad’s government. The list also includes Mohammad Ali Jafari and Hossein Taeb.[86]

See also

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qasem_Soleimani

Quds Force

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Quds Force
سپاه قدس
Seal of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution.svg
Active 1980–present
Country Iran
Branch Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps
Type Special operations force
Role Special operations
Size Classified (estimate: 15,000)
Engagements Iran–Iraq War
1982 Lebanon War
Bosnian War
South Lebanon conflict (1985–2000)
Battle for Herat
Balochistan conflict
Iran–PJAK conflict
Syrian Civil War
2014 Northern Iraq offensive
Military intervention against ISIL

Commanders
Commander Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani

The Quds Force[1] (Persianسپاه قدس‎ sepāh-e qods) is a special forces unit of Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards responsible for their extraterritorial operations.[2] The Quds Force reports directly to the Supreme Leader of IranAli Khamenei.[3][4] Its commander is Major General Qasem Soleimani[5] and his deputy was Hossein Hamadani.[6] While “little is reliably known” about the force,[7] as of 2007, its size was estimated at 15,000 troops.[8]The United States has designated the Quds Force a supporter of terrorism since 2007.[9]

 

History and mission

The Quds Force was created during the Iran–Iraq War as a special unit from the broader IRGC forces. Both during and after the war, it provided support to the Kurds fighting Saddam Hussein. In 1982, a Quds unit was deployed to Lebanon, where it assisted in the genesis of Hezbollah.[10] The Force also expanded its operations into neighboring Afghanistan, most notably aiding Abdul Ali Mazari‘s Shi’a Hezbe Wahdat in the 1980s against the government of Mohammad Najibullah. It then began funding and supporting Ahmad Shah Massoud‘s Northern Alliance against the Taliban.[11] However, in recent years, the Quds Force is alleged to have been helping and guiding the Taliban insurgents against the NATO-backed Karzai administration.[12][13][14][15][16][17][18] There were also reports of the unit lending support to Bosnian Muslims fighting the Bosnian Serbs during the Yugoslav wars.[19][20][21]

According to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad helped fund the Quds Force while he was stationed at the Ramazan garrison near Iraq, during the late 1980s.[22]

In January 2010, according to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the mission of the Quds Force was expanded and the Force along with Hezbollah started a new campaign of attacks targeting not only the US and Israel but also other Western bodies.[23]

Organization

8 directorates of Quds Force Operations

The force is described as “active in dozens of countries”.[7] According to former U.S. Army intelligence officer David Dionisi, the Quds force is organized into eight different directorates based on geographic location:[24]

According to journalist Dexter Filkins, the force’s members are “divided between combatants and those who train and oversee foreign assets”, and the force is divided into branches focusing on “intelligence, finance, politics, sabotage, and special operations. Members are chosen both for their skill and “allegiance to the doctrine of the Islamic Revolution”.[25]

In addition, Dionisi asserts in his book American Hiroshima that the Iranian Quds Force headquarters for operations in Iraq was moved in 2004 to the Iran-Iraq border in order to better supervise activities in Iraq.[24] The Quds Force also has a headquarters in the former compound of the U.S. Embassy, which was overrun in 1979.[26]

According to Filkins and American General Stanley A. McChrystal, it was the Quds Force that “flooded” Iraq with “explosively formed projectiles” which fire a molten copper slug able to penetrate armor, and which accounted for “nearly 20%” of American combat deaths in Iraq (i.e. hundreds of soldiers).[25] In September 2007, a few years after the publication of American Hiroshima: The Reasons Why and a Call to Strengthen America’s Democracy in July 2006, General David Petraeus reported to Congress that the Quds Force had left Iraq. Petraeus said, “The Quds Force itself, we believe, by and large, those individuals have been pulled out of the country, as have the Lebanese Hezbollah trainers that were being used to augment that activity.”[27]

On July 7, 2008, Pulitzer Prize-winning author