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Trump Escalates War With NFL In Early Tweetstorm

September 25, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

After igniting an NFL firestorm over the weekend with a series of tweetstorms bashing players who refused to stand for the national anthem (something we covered in detail here), Trump is at it again this morning with new tweets highlighting the disgruntled crowds that booed the kneeling players. 

“Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!”

 

“The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!”

Many people booed the players who kneeled yesterday (which was a small percentage of total). These are fans who demand respect for our Flag!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017

The issue of kneeling has nothing to do with race. It is about respect for our Country, Flag and National Anthem. NFL must respect this!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017

 

Some of the loudest such ‘boos’ came for the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium when a number of Patriots kneeled for the anthem.

 

Meanwhile, Tom Brady responded to Trump’s continued attacks this morning saying that he “disagrees” with the President and thinks his tweets are “just divisive.”  Presumably, that means that Brady is of the opinion that exploiting his star power to make a political statement is not equally divisive?  Per WEEI:

“Yeah, I certainly disagree with what he said. I thought it was just divisive,” Brady said. “Like I said, I just want to support my teammates. I am never one to say, ‘Oh, that is wrong. That is right.’ I do believe in what I believe in. I believe in bringing people together and respect and love and trust. Those are the values that my parents instilled in me. That is how I try and live every day. I have been blessed to be in locker rooms with guys all over the United States over the course of my career. Some of my great friends are from Florida, Virginia, New York, Montana, Colorado, Texas. The one thing about football is it brings so many guys together — guys you would never have the opportunity to be around. Whether it was in college, and all the way into the pros. We’re all different, we’re all unique. That is what makes us all special.”

 

“Hopefully it brings everyone together. I think that is what unity and love — like I said after the game, those are the things that concern me. When you’re in a locker room full of 53 players, you’re working to a common goal. You support the guys that you play with and you support your coaches, coaches support you. You just do the best you can do. You’re navigating through life. These things aren’t easy. Everyone deals with different challenges in their life and you respect everyone’s opinions and views. You don’t have to agree with everything. It’s hard to agree with your own wife on everything from day-to-day. I have so much respect for my teammates and what we’re trying to accomplish. Hopefully we can keep marching toward this end of the season, keep making improvements, get better and win more football games.”

 

Brady said he heard the boo’s during and after the anthem from some in the crowd and said people can do what they want to do.

 

“Yeah, I did,” he said. “No, I think everyone has the right to do whatever they want to do. If you don’t agree, that is fine. You can voice your disagreement, I think that is great. It’s part of our democracy. As long as it is done in a peaceful, respectful way, that is what our country has been all about.”

On the other hand, and not terribly surprisingly, NASCAR’s strong condemnation of protesting the national anthem, which Richard Petty said would earn anyone on his team an immediate dismissal, drew praise from the White House.  Per the Associated Press:

It appeared no drivers, crew or other team members participated in a protest during the national anthem to start the NASCAR Cup series race Sunday in Loudon, New Hampshire. Several team owners and executives had said they wouldn’t want anyone in their organizations to protest.

 

Richard Childress, who was Dale Earnhardt’s longtime team owner, said of protesting, “It’ll get you a ride on a Greyhound bus.” Childress says he told his team that “anybody that works for me should respect the country we live in. So many people gave their lives for it. This is America.”

 

Hall of Fame driver Richard Petty’s sentiments took it a step further, saying: “Anybody that don’t stand up for the anthem oughta be out of the country. Period. What got ’em where they’re at? The United States.”

 

When asked if a protester at Richard Petty Motorsports would be fired, he said, “You’re right.”

So proud of NASCAR and its supporters and fans. They won’t put up with disrespecting our Country or our Flag – they said it loud and clear!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 25, 2017

 

Of course, it’s only a matter of time until we see if this controversy caused any dips in ratings for the increasingly politicized NFL.

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WTI Hits 4-Month Highs Over $51 Amid Kurdish Referendum Concerns

September 25, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

For the third time in 10 days, WTI Crude futures broke above $51 (this time running stops back to its highest level since May) amid growing concerns over the potential reactions to the results of the forthcoming Kurdish independence vote.

Positive com…

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Republicans Scramble To Revise Obamacare Repeal Bill As Defeat Looms

September 25, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

After Texas Senator Ted Cruz revealed Sunday that he wouldn’t support Graham-Cassidy, effectively quashing the Republicans’ chances of repealing and replacing Obamacare before the crucial Sept. 30 deadline, Bloomberg reported that the GOP senate leadership was scrambling late Sunday to revise the bill to win support from a small but critical group of holdout senators and secure the 50 votes needed to allow the tie-breaking vote in favor cast by Vice President Mike Pence.

Cruz, who had previously said he supported a system of scrapping the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in favor of providing block grants to states, the crux of the Graham-Cassidy, told a crowd in Texas that he had changed his mind, but didn’t elaborate as to why. Meanwhile, Senator Rand Paul took to the Sunday shows to reiterate that he’s against the bill because he believes block grants would foster infighting over funding between the states.

Some of the changes, which come as the Sept. 30 expiration of the fast-track provision that forestalls a Democratic filibuster, are designed to appeal to moderate holdouts like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, while others appeared tailored to lure conservative skeptics like Rand Paul of Kentucky. Trump has vowed to win the support of the Kentucky senator, although some theorize that, since the current system is popular in Paul’s home state, that he will invent libertarian-sounding objections to any bill the Republicans present.

Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham

But even if GOP leadership manages to change a handful of votes, the bill’s chances of passing remain low, virtually guaranteeing that the Republicans will be forced to accept the status quo after seven years of campaigning to scrap Obamacare. And although the GOP could still try to resurrect the health-care effort later this year, the effort’s collapse will raise serious doubts about Congressional Republicans’ ability to win legislative battles on behalf of the president.

As Bloomberg points out, even Trump appeared to concede that the outlook for repeal isn’t great, admitting as much during a press conference with reporters.

“Eventually we will win on that. My primary focus, I must tell you – has been from the beginning, as you can imagine – is taxes.”

Indeed, the administration appears to already be ceding ground on taxes after leaked highlights from the bill suggested that Republicans would shoot for a 20% corporate tax rate after Trump had called for 15%.

Meanwhile, the new version of Graham-Cassidy partially tries to win over holdouts by offering more federal funding for their states, including multiple provisions offering more money to Lisa Murkowski, or “Lisa M”’s Alaska. The revised bill also includes changes to controversial provisions about pre-existing conditions coverage.

Under the revised version, states would have to describe how their health plans “shall maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions.” The original language said each state had to show how it “intends” to have adequate and affordable access to coverage.

 

The bill continues, however, to give states broad new authority to allow insurance companies to provide skimpier plans with far fewer benefits while charging higher premiums to the sick and the old.

Under the new version, states could let insurers impose deductibles that are higher than the limits set by the Affordable Care Act, or remove the health law’s limits on the costs that an individual family can incur in a year entirely. They could also offer coverage that lacks some of the ACA’s benefits, such as maternity care, prescription drugs or mental health. Plus, states could let insurers widen the gap between how much old people and young people are charged. And states could remove requirements that insurers cover preventive-health treatments and immunizations.

Democrats were quick to criticize the bill.

“Despite an attempt to appear to add money for a select few states, this bill is just as bad for those states and the rest of the states because it still contains a massive cut to Medicaid, and would throw our health insurance system into chaos while raising premiums,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement late Sunday.

The health-care industry, another group that opposes Graham-Cassidy, mobilized on Sunday to convince senators who are on the fence not to vote for the bill.

The bill provoked an unusually strong backlash from the health-care industry as well. Groups representing doctors, hospitals and insurers signed a letter Saturday urging the Senate to reject the Graham-Cassidy bill.

 

The groups said the bill would undermine protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, result in dramatic cuts to Medicaid and “drastically” weaken the individual insurance markets. The letter was signed by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Hospital Association, and America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents major insurers.

Republicans might have another shot at repealing some of Obamacare’s more controversial provisions later this year when they adopt a budget resolution that could allow room for Obamacare repeal provisions, although trying to combine the two complicated policies might make the overall package even harder to pass.

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah said last week that there’s a “chance” of pairing taxes with health-care provisions. “But it’s not easy,” he added.

Mitch McConnell still needs to decide whether to call for a vote on Graham-Cassidy.

McConnell still has to decide whether to go through with a vote, which would likely happen Wednesday. While Trump has urged GOP leaders to make every possible effort to repeal Obamacare, some Republicans will be reluctant to take a vote on a bill that many privately are uncomfortable with.

A CBO analysis of the bill is expected later Monday.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office will release a partial analysis of the Graham-Cassidy proposal as early as Monday. It will examine the proposal’s impact on the federal deficit, but a full review of the effect on U.S. health coverage and costs won’t be ready for weeks. The Senate Finance Committee will hold the only hearing on the bill Monday afternoon, and it doesn’t plan to vote on the measure. Senate Republicans will have a private lunchtime meeting Tuesday, where GOP leaders can make a last plea for support.

The Brookings Institution estimated Friday that the Graham-Cassidy plan would reduce the number of people with health coverage by about 21 million a year from 2020 through 2026. The good news is that for all the twists and turns in this ongoing process, the fate of Obamacare repeal should be sealed by mid-week.

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China’s ICO Crackdown Boosts Hong Kong’s Hopes Of Becoming Blockchain Hub

September 25, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

China’s decision to shutter digital-currency exchanges based on the mainland, a strategy meant to extinguish the rampant fraud and abuse associated with initial coin offerings, or ICOs, is brightening Hong Kong’s hopes of asserting itself as a hub for blockchain technology.

As Bloomberg reports, while China has at least nominally embraced blockchain technology – even building a prototype digital yuan – Hong Kong’s city government has gone a step further by encouraging blockchain startups to set up shop in the city. One firm run by Johnson Leung, who has found success in finance and shipping, and now runs a blockchain startup, is focusing on applications for container ship operators.

The city’s embrace of blockchain is its latest attempt to nurture a domestic technology industry that could compliment the city’s dominance in banking and shipping. But as Bloomberg notes, betting on blockchain, a technology that has generated a ludicrous amount of hype, much of it undeserved, could be a risky proposition. Despite Hong Kong’s status as a financial hub, the city, one of the most expensive in the world for average working families, has zero “unicorns” – a term for startups valued at over $1 billion.

Skeptics say it’s a risky bet on an unproven technology – one with more than its fair share of hype and, in some cases, fraud. But a growing number of Hong Kong entrepreneurs and policy makers are convinced the online ledger system that underlies cryptocurrencies like bitcoin will eventually reshape everything from financial services to supply chains. They say the city’s laissez faire approach toward regulation, along with its expertise in finance and logistics, make it a natural hub for blockchain startups.

 

“I don’t see why Hong Kong can’t be a leader of blockchain technology,” said Leung, who co-founded 300cubits.tech after more than a decade in the financial industry that included stints as a research analyst at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Jefferies Group LLC. “It’s so new that it’s not like any country has a huge advantage compared to us.”

As Bloomberg explains, the city’s government has been throwing resources at the technology, developing its own digital currency and testing different blockchain use-cases.

The city’s monetary authority is developing its own digital currency and is testing blockchains for trade finance, mortgage applications and e-check tracking. Hong Kong’s securities regulator has joined R3, a global consortium that develops blockchain technology for financial transactions, while a government-backed research institute has worked on a blockchain-based system for tracking property valuations, among other initiatives. Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd., the city’s publicly-traded exchange monopoly, plans to start a blockchain platform for early-stage companies and their investors next year.

 

“Blockchain is a very high priority for us,” said Charles d’Haussy, head of fintech at InvestHK, a government economic development agency.

To be sure, the city is, like China, imposing restrictions on some of the shadier aspects of the blockchain ecosystem – namely ICOs, a new financing trend that involves selling a digital token that’s tied to a given platform or product. In theory, these tokens should get more valuable as the underlying product becomes more widely used. Some ICOs have raised millions of dollars, all without a working prototype – only a white paper that sketches out the company’s idea.

That doesn’t mean Hong Kong is giving the industry carte blanche. This month, the city’s Securities and Futures Commission told investors to be on the lookout for fraud in initial coin offerings – a form of cryptocurrency fundraising – and warned ICO issuers that they may be subject to local securities laws.

 

“We have to be very careful with this because on the one hand, we encourage innovation and free markets, but on the other hand, we do have to look after our small investors,” Paul Chan, Hong Kong’s financial secretary, said in a Sept. 11 interview.

 

Still, the city is taking a softer approach toward regulation than China, which banned ICOs this month and called for a halt in trading on domestic cryptocurrency exchanges.

In its battle to lure blockchain companies, Hong Kong is competing directly with its longtime rival, Singapore, which has also taken many steps to explore uses for blockchain technology while also encouraging the creation of a thriving startup community. As Bloomberg points out, Hong Kong doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to tech startups. Its Cyberport business incubator has been criticized as a housing development in disguise, while many local workers are reluctant to leave their steady jobs for riskier ventures because of the extremely high cost of living.

Building a sustainable blockchain hub in Hong Kong won’t be easy. Many applications for the technology, including Leung’s proposal to create digital tokens for the shipping industry, are still largely theoretical. (Leung says his tokens could be used in conjunction with so-called smart contracts to reduce the risk of default on shipping agreements.)

 

At the same time, competition to lure the most promising blockchain firms is fierce. Singapore, Hong Kong’s biggest regional rival, is pouring resources into its local fintech industry, as are other financial hubs including Dubai.

One official with InvestHK, the portion of the city government responsible for luring foreign investment, said that the city is keenly aware of the hype surrounding blockchain but has decided to move ahead anyway.

“There is hype, and there is the fast grab of money with ICOs in some cases,” d’Haussy said. “But what we are looking at building here in Hong Kong is an infrastructure for new businesses and existing businesses, to make sure the technology and innovations remain a key enabler for financial sector growth.”

So far at least, blockchain has been closely associated with fintech, or financial technology, which city officials believe should give Hong Kong an edge in attracting companies, given its large financial sector. Many of the city’s early startups include financially focused firms like BitMEX, a bitcoin derivatives exchange; Bitspark, a remittance platform; and Kenetic Capital, a blockchain investment firm. While Hong Kong doesn’t publish statistics on the growth of the local blockchain industry, InvestHK’s d’Haussy said anywhere from 10 to 20 companies are expected to raise funds via ICOs in the city over the next six months.

However, with the technology still largely unable to scale, the question of whether these companies will be able to survive long enough to achieve profitability before their backers throw in the towel. Not every function – especially not in the world of finance – is suitable for automation and decentralization. What works with blockchain, and what doesn’t, has yet to be thoroughly explored.

Which is, of course, one of the reasons why the industry is so interesting: The risks are large, but the payoffs, in terms of job creation and the attendant tax-revenue and growth bump, is potentially huge.

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Chris Hedges On The Silencing Of Dissent

September 25, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Chris Hedges via TruthDig.com,

The ruling elites, who grasp that the reigning ideology of global corporate capitalism and imperial expansion no longer has moral or intellectual credibility, have mounted a campaign to shut down the platforms given to their critics. The attacks within this campaign include blacklisting, censorship and slandering dissidents as foreign agents for Russia and purveyors of “fake news.”

No dominant class can long retain control when the credibility of the ideas that justify its existence evaporates. It is forced, at that point, to resort to crude forms of coercion, intimidation and censorship. This ideological collapse in the United States has transformed those of us who attack the corporate state into a potent threat, not because we reach large numbers of people, and certainly not because we spread Russian propaganda, but because the elites no longer have a plausible counterargument.

The elites face an unpleasant choice. They could impose harsh controls to protect the status quo or veer leftward toward socialism to ameliorate the mounting economic and political injustices endured by most of the population. But a move leftward, essentially reinstating and expanding the New Deal programs they have destroyed, would impede corporate power and corporate profits. So instead the elites, including the Democratic Party leadership, have decided to quash public debate. The tactic they are using is as old as the nation-state—smearing critics as traitors who are in the service of a hostile foreign power. Tens of thousands of people of conscience were blacklisted in this way during the Red Scares of the 1920s and 1950s. The current hyperbolic and relentless focus on Russia, embraced with gusto by “liberal” media outlets such as The New York Times and MSNBC, has unleashed what some have called a virulent “New McCarthyism.”

The corporate elites do not fear Russia. There is no publicly disclosed evidence that Russia swung the election to Donald Trump. Nor does Russia appear to be intent on a military confrontation with the United States. I am certain Russia tries to meddle in U.S. affairs to its advantage, as we do and did in Russia—including our clandestine bankrolling of Boris Yeltsin, whose successful 1996 campaign for re-election as president is estimated to have cost up to $2.5 billion, much of that money coming indirectly from the American government. In today’s media environment Russia is the foil. The corporate state is unnerved by the media outlets that give a voice to critics of corporate capitalism, the security and surveillance state and imperialism, including the network RT America.

My show on RT America, “On Contact,” like my columns at Truthdig, amplifies the voices of these dissidents—Tariq Ali, Kshama Sawant, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Medea Benjamin, Ajamu Baraka, Noam Chomsky, Dr. Margaret Flowers, Rania Khalek, Amira Hass, Miko Peled, Abby Martin, Glen Ford, Max Blumenthal, Pam Africa, Linh Dinh, Ben Norton, Eugene Puryear, Allan Nairn, Jill Stein, Kevin Zeese and others. These dissidents, if we had a functioning public broadcasting system or a commercial press free of corporate control, would be included in the mainstream discourse. They are not bought and paid for. They have integrity, courage and often brilliance. They are honest. For these reasons, in the eyes of the corporate state, they are very dangerous.

The first and deadliest salvo in the war on dissent came in 1971 when Lewis Powell, a corporate attorney and later a Supreme Court justice, wrote and circulated a memo among business leaders called “Attack on American Free Enterprise System.” It became the blueprint for the corporate coup d’état. Corporations, as Powell recommended in the document, poured hundreds of millions of dollars into the assault, financing pro-business political candidates, mounting campaigns against the liberal wing of the Democratic Party and the press and creating institutions such as the Business Roundtable, The Heritage Foundation, the Manhattan Institute, the Cato Institute, Citizens for a Sound Economy, the Federalist Society and Accuracy in Academia. The memo argued that corporations had to fund sustained campaigns to marginalize or silence those who in “the college campus, the pulpit, the media, and the intellectual and literary journals” were hostile to corporate interests.

Powell attacked Ralph Nader by name. Lobbyists flooded Washington and state capitals. Regulatory controls were abolished. Massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy were implemented, culminating in a de facto tax boycott. Trade barriers were lifted and the country’s manufacturing base was destroyed. Social programs were slashed and funds for infrastructure, from roads and bridges to public libraries and schools, were cut. Protections for workers were gutted. Wages declined or stagnated. The military budget, along with the organs of internal security, became ever more bloated. A de facto blacklist, especially in universities and the press, was used to discredit intellectuals, radicals and activists who decried the idea of the nation prostrating itself before the dictates of the marketplace and condemned the crimes of imperialism, some of the best known being Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Sheldon Wolin, Ward Churchill, Nader, Angela Davis and Edward Said. These critics were permitted to exist only on the margins of society, often outside of institutions, and many had trouble making a living.

The financial meltdown of 2008 not only devastated the global economy, it exposed the lies propagated by those advocating globalization. Among these lies: that salaries of workers would rise, democracy would spread across the globe, the tech industry would replace manufacturing as a source of worker income, the middle class would flourish, and global communities would prosper. After 2008 it became clear that the “free market” is a scam, a zombie ideology by which workers and communities are ravaged by predatory capitalists and assets are funneled upward into the hands of the global 1 percent. The endless wars, fought largely to enrich the arms industry and swell the power of the military, are futile and counterproductive to national interests. Deindustrialization and austerity programs have impoverished the working class and fatally damaged the economy.

The establishment politicians in the two leading parties, each in service to corporate power and responsible for the assault on civil liberties and impoverishment of the country, are no longer able to use identity politics and the culture wars to whip up support. This led in the last presidential campaign to an insurgency by Bernie Sanders, which the Democratic Party crushed, and the election of Donald Trump.

Barack Obama rode a wave of bipartisan resentment into office in 2008, then spent eight years betraying the public. Obama’s assault on civil liberties, including his use of the Espionage Act to prosecute whistleblowers, was worse than those carried out by George W. Bush. He accelerated the war on public education by privatizing schools, expanded the wars in the Middle East, including the use of militarized drone attacks, provided little meaningful environmental reform, ignored the plight of the working class, deported more undocumented people than any other president, imposed a corporate-sponsored health care program that was the brainchild of the right-wing Heritage Foundation, and prohibited the Justice Department from prosecuting the bankers and financial firms that carried out derivatives scams and inflated the housing and real estate market, a condition that led to the 2008 financial meltdown. He epitomized, like Bill Clinton, the bankruptcy of the Democratic Party. Clinton, outdoing Obama’s later actions, gave us the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the dismantling of the welfare system, the deregulation of the financial services industry and the huge expansion of mass incarceration. Clinton also oversaw deregulation of the Federal Communications Commission, a change that allowed a handful of corporations to buy up the airwaves.

The corporate state was in crisis at the end of the Obama presidency. It was widely hated. It became vulnerable to attacks by the critics it had pushed to the fringes. Most vulnerable was the Democratic Party establishment, which claims to defend the rights of working men and women and protect civil liberties. This is why the Democratic Party is so zealous in its efforts to discredit its critics as stooges for Moscow and to charge that Russian interference caused its election defeat.

In January there was a report on Russia by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. The report devoted seven of its 25 pages to RT America and its influence on the presidential election. It claimed “Russian media made increasingly favorable comments about President-elect Trump as the 2016 US general and primary election campaigns progressed while consistently offering negative coverage of Secretary [Hillary] Clinton.” This might seem true if you did not watch my RT broadcasts, which relentlessly attacked Trump as well as Clinton, or watch Ed Schultz, who now has a program on RT after having been the host of an MSNBC commentary program. The report also attempted to present RT America as having a vast media footprint and influence it does not possess.

“In an effort to highlight the alleged ‘lack of democracy’ in the United States, RT broadcast, hosted, and advertised third party candidate debates and ran reporting supportive of the political agenda of these candidates,” the report read, correctly summing up themes on my show.

 

“The RT hosts asserted that the US two-party system does not represent the views of at least one-third of the population and is a ‘sham.’ ”

It went on:

RT’s reports often characterize the United States as a ‘surveillance state’ and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use.

 

RT has also focused on criticism of the US economic system, US currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the US national debt. Some of RT’s hosts have compared the United States to Imperial Rome and have predicted that government corruption and “corporate greed” will lead to US financial collapse.

Is the corporate state so obtuse it thinks the American public has not, on its own, reached these conclusions about the condition of the nation? Is this what it defines as “fake news”? But most important, isn’t this the truth that the courtiers in the mainstream press and public broadcasting, dependent on their funding from sources such as the Koch brothers, refuse to present? And isn’t it, in the end, the truth that frightens them the most? Abby Martin and Ben Norton ripped apart the mendacity of the report and the complicity of the corporate media in my “On Contact” show titled “Real purpose of intel report on Russian hacking with Abby Martin & Ben Norton.”

In November 2016, The Washington Post reported on a blacklist published by the shadowy and anonymous site PropOrNot. The blacklist was composed of 199 sites PropOrNot alleged, with no evidence, “reliably echo Russian propaganda.” More than half of those sites were far-right, conspiracy-driven ones. But about 20 of the sites were major left-wing outlets including AlterNet, Black Agenda Report, Democracy Now!, Naked Capitalism, Truthdig, Truthout, CounterPunch and the World Socialist Web Site. The blacklist and the spurious accusations that these sites disseminated “fake news” on behalf of Russia were given prominent play in the Post in a story headlined “Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during the election, experts say.” The reporter, Craig Timberg, wrote that the goal of the Russian propaganda effort, according to “independent researchers who have tracked the operation,” was “punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy.” Last December, Truthdig columnist Bill Boyarsky wrote a good piece about PropOrNot, which to this day remains essentially a secret organization.

The owner of The Washington Post, Jeff Bezos, also the founder and CEO of Amazon, has a $600 million contract with the CIA. Google, likewise, is deeply embedded within the security and surveillance state and aligned with the ruling elites. Amazon recently purged over 1,000 negative reviews of Hillary Clinton’s new book, “What Happened.” The effect was that the book’s Amazon rating jumped from 2 1/2 stars to five stars. Do corporations such as Google and Amazon carry out such censorship on behalf of the U.S. government? Or is this censorship their independent contribution to protect the corporate state?

In the name of combating Russia-inspired “fake news,” Google, Facebook, Twitter, The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, Agence France-Presse and CNN in April imposed algorithms or filters, overseen by “evaluators,” that hunt for key words such as “U.S. military,” “inequality” and “socialism,” along with personal names such as Julian Assange and Laura Poitras, the filmmaker. Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president for search engineering, says Google has amassed some 10,000 “evaluators” to determine the “quality” and veracity of websites. Internet users doing searches on Google, since the algorithms were put in place, are diverted from sites such as Truthdig and directed to mainstream publications such as The New York Times. The news organizations and corporations that are imposing this censorship have strong links to the Democratic Party. They are cheerleaders for American imperial projects and global capitalism. Because they are struggling in the new media environment for profitability, they have an economic incentive to be part of the witch hunt.

The World Socialist Web Site reported in July that its aggregate volume, or “impressions”—links displayed by Google in response to search requests—fell dramatically over a short period after the new algorithms were imposed. It also wrote that a number of sites “declared to be ‘fake news’ by the Washington Post’s discredited [PropOrNot] blacklist … had their global ranking fall. The average decline of the global reach of all of these sites is 25 percent. …”

Another article, “Google rigs searches to block access to World Socialist Web Site,” by the same website that month said:

During the month of May, Google searches including the word “war” produced 61,795 WSWS impressions. In July, WSWS impressions fell by approximately 90 percent, to 6,613.

 

Searches for the term “Korean war” produced 20,392 impressions in May. In July, searches using the same words produced zero WSWS impressions. Searches for “North Korea war” produced 4,626 impressions in May. In July, the result of the same search produced zero WSWS impressions. “India Pakistan war” produced 4,394 impressions in May. In July, the result, again, was zero. And “Nuclear war 2017” produced 2,319 impressions in May, and zero in July.

 

To cite some other searches: “WikiLeaks,” fell from 6,576 impressions to zero, “Julian Assange” fell from 3,701 impressions to zero, and “Laura Poitras” fell from 4,499 impressions to zero. A search for “Michael Hastings”—the reporter who died in 2013 under suspicious circumstances—produced 33,464 impressions in May, but only 5,227 impressions in July.

 

In addition to geopolitics, the WSWS regularly covers a broad range of social issues, many of which have seen precipitous drops in search results. Searches for “food stamps,” “Ford layoffs,” “Amazon warehouse,” and “secretary of education” all went down from more than 5,000 impressions in May to zero impressions in July.

The accusation that left-wing sites collude with Russia has made them theoretically subject, along with those who write for them, to the Espionage Act and the Foreign Agent Registration Act, which requires Americans who work on behalf of a foreign party to register as foreign agents.

The latest salvo came last week. It is the most ominous. The Department of Justice called on RT America and its “associates”—which may mean people like me—to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act. No doubt, the corporate state knows that most of us will not register as foreign agents, meaning we will be banished from the airwaves. This, I expect, is the intent. The government will not stop with RT. The FBI has been handed the authority to determine who is a “legitimate” journalist and who is not. It will use this authority to decimate the left.

This is a war of ideas.

The corporate state cannot compete honestly in this contest. It will do what all despotic regimes do – govern through wholesale surveillance, lies, blacklists, false accusations of treason, heavy-handed censorship and, eventually, violence.

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Sales To “Common Sense Preppers” Soar Amid Nukes, Quakes, Floods, & Storms

September 25, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

With North Korea threatening to detonate a nuclear weapon over the Pacific Ocean as its leader and President Donald Trump casually bandy about threats of thermonuclear annihilation, people in the US and Japan are understandably starting to worry.

After all, US intelligence agencies revealed during the summer that they believe the North will soon possess a nuclear warhead-tipped ballistic missile capable of striking most of the continental US. In fact, chances are good that, with a little luck, the North already has missiles in its arsenal that could probably strike a large area of the western US.

But, aside from nuclear threats looming in North Korea and Iran, the worst hurricane season in the Atlantic in more than a decade, and the continuing rumblings underneath the Yellowstone caldera, which could signal a potentially humanity-extinguishing eruption, it’s understandable that Americans and Japanese are increasingly worrying about their safety, and have begun purchasing more “doomsday preparation” gear to help assuage those fears.

Now, Reuters is reporting that survivalists across the US are clearing store shelves to stock bunkers in anticipation of Earth’s final chapter. A few survivalists who spoke with Reuters said that North Korea’s threats, and the images of the destruction caused by Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, have inspired them to stock up.

“It’s been a very busy six or seven weeks here – sales tripled practically overnight,” said Keith Bansemer, vice president for marketing for Idaho-based My Patriot Supply, an online store catering to preppper needs.

 

“It all started when North Korea shot the missile that was capable of reaching the U.S. Then the hurricanes and two Mexican earthquakes increased sales from California and Cascadia in the Northwest,” he said, referring to the corner of the country where many survivalists have settled because of its relative isolation.

One guy on the west coast said he’s worried about a catastrophic earthquake. He has piled enough survival supplies in a closet that could last he, his wife and their dogs for a month, if necessary.

David Yellin, a self-described prepper who lives in California’s San Diego County, said his main concern was the long-expected “big earthquake” along the West Coast.

 

The 31-year-old police officer has piled enough survival supplies in a closet of the apartment he shares with his fiance and their two dogs to allow them to hunker down for a month.

 

“I‘m more of what I consider a common sense prepper,” Yellin said. “Because at the end of the day, we are responsible for our own safety.”

Both he and his wife have “bug out bags” prepared should disaster strike.

If disaster forces the couple to flee, each has a “bug-out bag” stuffed with three days of food, water, first aid and water purification supplies, fire-starting materials, a tent and sleeping bag, change of clothes and important documents.

One purveyor of survivalist gear said sales on items like gas masks have spiked over the last two months, a period which notably featured the US’s escalating war of words with North Korea and the catastrophic hurricanes.

At Ready To Go Survival, founder and chief executive Roman Zrazhevskiy said gas masks were quickly moving off the shelves and overall sales “are up like 700 percent over the last two months.”

 

A prepper himself, he said his greatest fear was a U.S. economic collapse as a result of the country’s unsustainable debt.

 

“Once people go hungry, they are going to get to the streets and look for food,” said Zrazhevskiy, 31, who grew up in New York City’s borough of Brooklyn and now lives in Texas.

 

Customers were snapping up $500 CBRN suits to withstand chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attack and $200 gas masks in sizes that fit children as young as 5.

Another prepper who has spent thousands of dollars on gear said he fears political and economic collapses as much or more than North Korea.

“Gas masks? I’ve got tons of those,” said prepper Jerry McMullin, 62, a retired risk assessment analyst whose bunker-like home in Yellow Jacket, Colorado, was built to withstand nuclear attack, biological warfare and a range of natural cataclysms.

 

Although North Korea is one of his biggest concerns, McMullin is also worried about political instability in Washington leading to riots and mayhem in the cities, he said.

 

“I‘m not a paranoid guy. I just want to be in a position that when it does go to Hell, I‘m in a good location to get whatever I need,” said McMullin, who has his own water filtration system and burns his own trash in his solar-powered home.

In addition to the obvious threats, many continue to believe in “doomsday” hoaxes like 7/7/2007 and end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012.

Now, some Christians are touting a Bible prophecy that marks September 23, 2017 as the beginning of a seven-year period of catastrophic events that will bring humanity to its knees.

David Meade, a Christian numerologist and author, has said that, based on the Book of Revelations, a constellation would appear over Jerusalem on Saturday that would start the seven years of mayhem.

 

But McMullin said his own respect for Bible prophesy assures him that disaster is not around the corner.

 

“As far as getting wiped out this weekend, I‘m not too worried about that,” McMullin said.

 

“Maybe it’s a timeline marker and things are going to start getting really ramped up. We are not about to go through mass destruction and fatality. I think people are a little more stable – except for Kim,” he said, referring to North Korea’s President Kim Jong Un.

After spending thousands on gear, some preppers told Reuters that the flooding in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico have left them feeling vindicated.

We imagine that feeling will persist as economic and political tensions, coupled with the impending economic disenfranchisement of much of America’s working and middle classes, continue to simmer, while the US’s leaders continue to risk an unparalleled disaster by trading threats with unstable North Korea.
 

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Silicon Valley Snake Oil: It’s Passed Its ‘Sell By Date’

September 25, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

Authored by Mark St.Cyr,

“It’s different this time!” One of the greatest examples of Silicon Valley “snake oil” ever devised, embraced, and consumed en masse.

The problem with “snake oil?” It’s never different. And today’s newest and improved version has passed its expiration date – and is beginning to turn rancid.

Remember when “unicorns” were the thing? I know, they still are in a sense. But they are far from the once mythical enablers of turning $Millions into $Billions via IPO’s. As a matter of fact, that process has become so tainted, the only way to keep attention focused that a company may still be worth what investors declare? Is to keep it under the cloak-of-darkness, also known as “private.”

One has to marvel at how rapidly ineffectual the “It’s different this time” elixir argument is becoming with every passing day.

Why? Ask yourself this: Why is it, not only have the most highly valued unicorns yet gone public, but also, at the same time, the stock “market” is at never before seen in human history highs?

Yet, that isn’t even the main issue, there’s another even more telling one. And it is this: There’s not even been a set date or road show scheduled, (except vague innuendo) when basically this same condition has applied for months, if not years!

What, market conditions at “all time highs” aren’t suitable? No money to be made in “tech?”

Well, there is money to be made in tech, but only if your sticker symbol has the right marking such as the coveted “bulls-eye” of the central banks. (Hint: FAANG)

If you’ve any misgivings about that. Just pull up a chart of any “disruptor” IPO darling of choice from 2015 onward. If you were one of the so-called “lucky ones” to get in on opening day? I’ll garner you no longer need, or look, at any of those charts. And, you have my condolences. (Hint: try TWLO, SNAP, or APRN for clues.)

The issue for Silicon Valley today is this: It’s going to get worse, much worse. And the only ones not getting it is the entire tech complex.

Sorry, but, once again, hint: It’s over. As in dot-com mania over.

The only thing left to happen is the inevitable crash. But make no mistake – it’s a matter of when, not if. And “when” is soon. Soon as in months, maybe a few earnings cycles, not years. For the seismic, tectonic shift, once known as Fed. largesse that has enabled all of it, has now not only been halted, but reversed, as in money from the Fed. will be withdrawn, and destroyed.

That’s what “balance sheet normalization” truly means. And the first to feel “the burn” as they say will be what was once the hottest, of hot sectors. i.e., Tech, especially, no earnings to sub-par earnings tech. Hello unicorns, and ads-for-eyeballs disruptor models aka known as social-media.

This all begins in earnest this coming October, just a week or so from now. And with it everything changes, especially, any and all past assumptions of “It’s different this time” accolades or defenses from traditional business metrics. i.e., making a net profit.

The reason? It’s going to be precisely that: different, this time.

Let’s use today’s deca-corns (yes, that’s an actual term because “uni” is just so blasé) for a little context shall we?

I posited back in April that Uber™ was in far greater trouble than anyone (especially the mainstream business/financial media) not only dared say, but rather, was able to intellectually extrapolate. I also contended, that this had major implications for “The Valley” at large.

Not only has that premise further crystalized. It’s crumbling even faster by the day. To wit:

Market Watch™: “Uber stripped of right to operate in London in latest blow to ride-sharing app”

Can you say: “Uh Oh?”

So let’s see: From a claimed $68Billion, to an assumed $40’ish (or less) on rumored buy outs, and now London says “…not fit and proper to hold” a license in the city. You know, a city that’s basically a mecca for taxi cabs and service.

What’s the valuation assumptions from here? Half of $40? Or, even less? Why? Easy…because who’s next? New York? Chicago? It’s an open question, just like its valuation. For nothing is yet truly settled.

Oh, but wait, there’s AirBnB™ that’ll save the apocalypse from venturing any further I’m told. Well, in my opinion, that’s a maybe, to a flat out no. “Why,” you ask? Again, fair question, and it is this:

Just like Uber – the longer it remains private – the more time is allotted for any, and all lawsuits either resting, or being drawn, to ferment ever further.

Uber has its driver issues and such. AirBnB has its own regulatory hurdles to still fight. And those fights just may get hit with an accelerant if the latest proposals being bandied about for increasing its presence draw it closer into the spotlight. Case in point:

A new start-up called Loftium™ has been launched to help prospective home buyers with up to $50K for a down-payment, but there’s a catch: You have to list a bedroom for three years on AirBnB and share the revenue.

Sounds great right? Here’s how I view it…

Much like Uber, this will have (and encourage) lawsuits, and more because of this one factor: Much like the “independent contractor” issue has yet to be fully resolved for Uber (let alone all the other suits.) AirBnB rentals in many cases break the social contract of not only knowing who is your neighbor, or tenant. But also: what business is allowed to openly operate within a residential neighborhood.

Say what you want about, “Renting out a room in my house is no different that letting a friend or family member stay the same period.” I’ll respond with, “Au contraire mon ami, it sure is.”

It is also very different in the eyes of both business law, as well as zoning. And this latest example of “disruption” is going to bring all of that, and more, to the forefront for AirBnB, in my estimation.

Hint: You think the hotel associations and such alone are going to just stand by and allow (as well as pay) all the taxes and restrictions for code enforcement while a neighborhood of homes around it gets to do it all without zoning, OSHA, mandated handicap access and egress, fire and safety requirements, and more?

Tack all of the above onto where now, there is a vocal, and concerted push (with incentives and more) by AirBnB to make “business traveler deals” available. If you believe the industry alone (let alone people in neighborhoods just sitting back as transients come too-and-fro into their neighborhood where their children are), I have some wonderful oceanfront property in Kentucky you can lease out, on the cheap. “Trust me.”

I used the unicorns above for examples because these are/were used as the touchstones against any, and all calls of criticism against the “It’s different this time” mantra. And now? (In my opinion) They are well past their sell by date, especially since now the Federal Reserve has indeed made it official and declared “”normalization” will begin in October.

And if you still believe in: “this time it’s different?” Here’s something to remind you, that it is – exactly that. To wit: “Spiking Silicon Valley Unemployment Dragging down California’s Economy”

Just as a reminder of how fast the whole “It’s different this time” meme can go awry. Here’s what I said back in October of 2015. to ridicule from many of the Valley’s aficionado set and business media cheerleaders.. To wit:

“However, you know what changes everything? When the meme of “Gonna stay here till I cash-in and then I’ll buy me a McMansion!” turns into the underlying realization that quite possibly – you’re going to end up living in a shipping container! Possibly forever if things don’t change.”

But it’s different this time. right? Or, maybe, it’s not. Better check that “bottle” for an expiration date. I think it may be well passed.

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First Black Medal Of Honor Recipient’s Act of ‘Defiance’: He Never Let The Flag Touch The Ground

September 25, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

As we reported previously, Sunday afternoon’s round of NFL games included players from nearly every team joining the “take a knee” protest during the National Anthem, while many others locked arms in solidarity with players who decided to take a knee, or – in the case of the Pittsburg Steelers – remained in the locker room, and thus weren’t visible to the public. Notably, Steeler and ex-Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva seemed to have defied the team decision to opt out of the anthem by waiting in the locker room (with the exception of head coach Mike Tomlin, who stood on the field). Villaneuva, who served three tours in Afghanistan, stood visibly outside the tunnel with his hand over his heart during the The Star-Spangled Banner.

In Philadelphia, Eagles and Giants players and coaches locked arms as a massive American flag was raised over the field and military jets performed a flyover. A few players raised fists or knelt, according to the New York Times. Several players on the Bills and the Broncos also took a knee, as well as players from both teams in the Patriots vs. Texans game. At least eight Detroit Lions knelt during the anthem which ended with singer Rico LaVelle kneeling with his fist in the air upon closing the national anthem. Across the league, well over 100 players took part in the anthem protest, and the controversy is now impacting other sports as well, including the NBA and MLB.

With Trump’s Sunday morning tweets fueling the controversy further, and with teams having to decide how to approach the issue, it would be helpful if Americans were reminded of the first black man in history to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Whereas players across the NFL are now either defiantly taking a knee or opting out of respectfully commemorating the flag by hiding in the locker room, ironically, the first African-American Medal of Honor recipient nearly made the ultimate sacrifice out of his own personal respect for the flag and all that it represents. 

Sergeant William H. Carney received the nation’s highest honor during the Civil War for rescuing the American flag and carrying it reverently in the midst of impossible odds while being shot multiple times by the enemy. His act of ‘defiance’ while an entire Confederate battalion mowed down his fellow Union soldiers consisted in not letting the flag touch the ground – this, even after being wounded in the head.

“As the color-bearer became disabled I threw away my gun and seized the colors [the flag],” his account of the Battle of Fort Wagner states. “When we finally reached [my regiment] the men cheered me and the flag. My reply was, ‘Boys, the old flag never touched the ground.’

Taking bullets for the flag, rather than a knee – Sergeant William H. Carney, the first black man to win the Congressional Medal of Honor, for refusing to allow the flag to touch the ground. Source: US Army archival photo

This act, acknowledged to be one of the most heroic deeds of the Civil War, is recorded in State documents and in the detailed account written by Sergeant Carney. The significance is summarized as follows:

In 1863 William H. Carney entered the army and was assigned to Company C of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the first regiment composed of black men in the state. They were most renowned for their participation in the battle at Battery Wagner where, through their bravery and sacrifice, they forever silenced the predication that the black men would not fight. It was at this siege on July 18, 1863 that Color-Sergeant William H. Carney performed a brave deed which earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor for most distinguished gallantry in action.

Here, in part, is his account of the siege from The History of New Bedford and Its Vicinity, 1620-1892:

“. . .We were all ready for the charge, and the regiment started to its feet, the charge being fairly commenced. We had got but a short distance when we were opened upon with musketry, shell, grape shot and canister, which mowed down our men right and left. As the color-bearer became disabled I threw away my gun and seized the colors, making my way to the head of the column. . . In less than 20 minutes I found myself alone, struggling upon the ramparts, while the dead and wounded were all around me, lying one upon another. Here I said, ‘I cannot go into the battery alone,’ and so I halted and knelt down, holding the flag in my hand. While there, the muskets, balls and grape-shots were flying all around me, and as they struck, the sand would fly in my face.”

The Storming of Fort Wagner by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Morris Island, Charleston, S.C., July 18, 1863.

“I knew my position was a critical one, and I began to watch to see if I would be left alone. Discovering that the forces had renewed their attack farther to the right, and the enemy’s attention being drawn thither, I turned and discovered a battalion of men coming towards me on the ramparts of Wagner. They proceeded until they were in front of me, and I raised my flag and started to join them, when from the light of the cannon discharged on the battery, I saw that they were my enemies. I wound the colors round the staff and made my way down the parapet in to the ditch, which was without water when I crossed it before, but now was filled with water that came up to my waist.

 

Out of the number that came up with me there was now no man moving erect, save myself, although they were not all dead but wounded. In rising to see if I could determine my course to the rear, the bullet I now carry in my body came whizzing like a mosquito, and I was shot. Not being prostrated by the shot, I continued my course, yet had not gone far before I was struck by a second shot.

 

Soon after I saw a man coming towards me, and then within halting distance I asked him who he was. He replied, ‘I belong to the One Hundredth New York,’ and then inquired if I were wounded. Upon replying in the affirmative, he came to my assistance and helped me to the rear. ‘Now then,’ said he, ‘let me take the colors and carry them for you.’ My reply was that I would not give them to anyone else unless he belonged to the Fifty-Fourth Regiment. So we passed on , but we did not go far before I was wounded in the head.

 

We came at length within hailing distance of the rear guard, who caused us to halt, and upon asking who we were, and finding I was wounded, took us to the rear and through the guard. An officer came, and taking my name and regiment, put us in charge of the hospital corps, telling them to find my regiment. When we finally reached the latter the men cheered me and the flag. My reply was, ‘Boys, the old flag never touched the ground.’

It is then said that he fell to the ground in a dead faint, weak from the wounds that he had received.”


The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial

In May, 1900, Carney became the first African-American to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor. Carney’s brave deed is depicted on the Saint-Gaudens Monument in Boston Common. The rescued flag is enshrined in Memorial Hall, Boston. Carney survived his severe wounds and lived until 1908. 

As the trend of multi-millionaire celebrity athletes ‘defiantly’ opting out of a minimal symbolic act of respect for the flag continues, remember the example of Sgt. Carney, who even after being shot multiple times defiantly and triumphantly raised the American flag high.

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Trumps Expands Travel Ban To Eight Countries, Adds North Korea, Venezuela

September 25, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

On Sunday evening, President Trump announced he would replace his controversial travel ban with a targeted list of restrictions that will enhance vetting for nationals from eight countries, and restrict or prohibit entry of citizens from North Korea and Venezuela among others, to the United States as part of a sweeping new travel ban that also slaps restrictions on Iran, Chad, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia – countries that hardly have a “thriving” tourism industry with the US.

“As president, I must act to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people,” Trump said in the proclamation. Individuals who fall under the Supreme Court’s “bona fide” exception can still apply for visas until Oct. 18. This would allow a foreign grandparent of a U.S. citizen to be granted the benefit of travel until this date.

Speaking to reporters earlier, Bloomberg noted that Trump said “the tougher, the better,” on the restrictions. During his presidential campaign, Trump spoke often of “extreme vetting” of those wanting to enter the U.S., and on Sunday he tweeted, “We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet.”

While Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Somalia were part of the president’s original travel ban, it has removed travel restrictions on Sudan, while adding Chad, Iraq, Venezuela and North Korea.  The addition of latter two nations broadens the restrictions from the original, mostly Muslim-majority list. Though Iraq is not part of the list of targeted nations, the Department of Homeland Security said that Iraqi nationals should “be subject to additional scrutiny to determine if they pose risks to the national security or public safety of the United States.” 

The officials say these states failed to comply with the U.S. information-sharing requirements that aim to make vetting processes stronger. 

Some states were denied because of their identity management and information sharing deficiencies, some have substantial terrorist organizations in their region that add to the threat level of admitting their citizens into the U.S., and others have failed to comply whatsoever with the information agreements.

 

The restrictions are “necessary” and conditions-based with the aim of protecting Americans by having stronger vetting standards, one senior official said.

 

Changes to the list can be made on a rolling basis with updates every 100 days. The changes can go both ways: countries can be taken off the list, but they can also be put on the list if they are not seen as complying with the standard

The officials said an announcement will be coming in next six days to inform members of Congress about any changes or modifications to the refugee cap.

The new restrictions, slated to go into effect on October 18, resulted from a review after President Donald Trump’s original travel bans were challenged in court. The proclamation comes the same day that Trump’s 90-day ban on visitors from six Muslim-majority nations is set to expire.

“North Korea does not cooperate with the United States government in any respect and fails to satisfy all information-sharing requirements,” the proclamation said. “Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of North Korea as immigrants and nonimmigrants is suspended.”

Of course, the revised ban is largely just another theatrical measure by Trump: an administration official, briefing reporters on a conference call, acknowledged that the number of North Koreans traveling to the United States now was very low.

While the full fact sheet on the just announced “Proclamation on Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats” can be found here, here are the White House’s justifications for its new country specific restrictions:

  • Chad – Although it is an important partner, especially in the fight against terrorists, the government in Chad does not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information, and several terrorist groups are active within Chad or in the surrounding region, including elements of Boko Haram, ISIS-West Africa, and al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb. Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of Chad, as immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas, is suspended.
  • Iran – The government in Iran regularly fails to cooperate with the United States Government in identifying security risks; is the source of significant terrorist threats; is state sponsor of terrorism; and fails to receive its nationals subject to final orders of removal from the United States. Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of Iran as immigrants and as nonimmigrants is suspended, except that entry by nationals of Iran under valid student (F and M) and exchange visitor (J) visas is not suspended, although such individuals will be subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements.
  • Libya – Although it is an important partner, especially in the area of counterterrorism, the government in Libya faces significant challenges in sharing several types of information, including public-safety and terrorism-related information; has significant inadequacies in its identity-management protocols; has been assessed to be not fully cooperative with respect to receiving its nationals subject to final orders of removal from the United States; and has a substantial terrorist presence within its territory. Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of Libya, as immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas, is suspended.
  • North Korea – The government in North Korea does not cooperate with the United States Government in any respect and fails to satisfy all information-sharing requirements. Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of North Korea as immigrants and nonimmigrants is suspended.
  • Somalia – Although it satisfies minimum U.S. information-sharing requirements, the government in Somalia still has significant identity-management deficiencies; is recognized as a terrorist safe haven; remains a destination for individuals attempting to join terrorist groups that threaten the national security of the United States; and struggles to govern its territory and to limit terrorists’ freedom of movement, access to resources, and capacity to operate. Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of Somalia as immigrants is suspended, and nonimmigrants traveling to the United States will be subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements.
  • Syria – The government in Syria regularly fails to cooperate with the U.S. Government in identifying security risks; is the source of significant terrorist threats; has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism; has significant inadequacies in identity-management protocols; and fails to share public-safety and terrorism information. Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of Syria as immigrants and nonimmigrants is suspended.
  • Venezuela – The government in Venezuela is uncooperative in verifying whether its citizens pose national security or public-safety threats; fails to share public-safety and terrorism-related information adequately; and has been assessed to be not fully cooperative with respect to receiving its nationals subject to final orders of removal from the United States. Accordingly, the entry into the United States of certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate family members as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas is suspended.
  • Yemen – Although it is an important partner, especially in the fight against terrorism, the government in Yemen faces significant identity-management challenges, which are amplified by the notable terrorist presence within its territory; fails to satisfy critical identity-management requirements; and does not share public-safety and terrorism-related information adequately. Accordingly, the entry into the United States of nationals of Yemen as immigrants, and as nonimmigrants on business (B-1), tourist (B-2), and business/tourist (B-1/B-2) visas, is suspended.

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Russia Releases Photos Showing US Special Ops At ISIS Positions In Syria

September 25, 2017 Tyler Durden 0

The Russian Defense Ministry has released aerial images allegedly showing ISIS, the SDF, and US special forces working side-by-side on the battlefield against Syrian and Russian forces in Dier ez-Zor, Syria.

The aerial photos of ISIS’ territory north of #Deir_ez_Zor where #USA special operation troops are seen https://t.co/lH6u8H9bvZ pic.twitter.com/gjqlQubi9o

— ?????????? ?????? (@mod_russia) September 24, 2017

As Adam Garrie reports, via The Duran,it has long been thought that the US proxy militia SDF is operating in collusion with ISIS in various parts of Syria. This has especially been the case in respect of Deir ez-Zor. In Deir ez-Zor, the Russian Defense Ministry has previously stated that the Syrian Arab Army and their allies are fired on most intensely from positions known to be held by the SDF.

Furthermore, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov recently stated,

“SDF militants work to the same objectives as Daesh terrorists. Russian drones and intelligence have not recorded any confrontations between Daesh and the ‘third force’, SDF”.

He added that Russia will not hesitate to target SDF forces that threaten the battle field progress and personal safety of Russia’s allies, namely the Syrian Arab Army.

Other reports surfaced of US military helicopters airlifting known ISIS commanders to safety as the Syrian Arab Army made its advance on the former ISIS stronghold of Deir ez-Zor. All of this has happened as the US is moving its proxy Kurdish led SDF forces from Raqqa to Deir ez-Zor, in a move that appears to be an attempt to stop Syrian forces from liberating their own country’s legally recognised territory.

Now, the Russian Defense Ministry has released a statement followed by 12 photos showing how SDF forces work alongside US special forces in ISIS controlled areas without facing any resistance from ISIS. Furthermore, none of the US or Kurdish led forces even take defensive positions which indicate that they are cooperating with ISIS rather than engaging in a perverse truce. In other words, the SDF, US special forces and ISIS move among each other in the same manner as allies do.

The following is the statement from the Russian Defense Ministry on the matter:

#US Special Operations Forces (#SOF) units enable US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (#SDF) units to smoothly advance through the ISIS formations.

 

Facing no resistance of the ISIS militants, the #SDF units are advancing along the left shore of the #Euphrates towards #Deir_ez_Zor.

 

The aerial photos made on September 8-12 over the ISIS locations recorded a large number of American #Hummer vehicles, which are in service with the #America‘s #SOF.

 

The shots clearly show the US SOF units located at strongholds that had been equipped by the ISIS terrorists. Though there is no evidence of assault, struggle or any US-led coalition airstrikes to drive out the militants.

 

Despite that the US strongholds being located in the ISIS areas, no screening patrol has been organized at them. This suggests that the#US_troops feel safe in terrorist controlled regions”.

This demonstrates that in spite of Donald Trump’s apparent wiliness to abandon the policy of aiding jihadist groups, not only has this policy not changed, but such a reality now includes full scale battlefield collusion with ISIS.

This also helps explain why in June of this year, SDF forces allowed ISIS terrorists to peacefully leave Raqqa and head towards Deir ez-Zor, a place which is now unquestionably the largest remaining ISIS stronghold in east of Libya.

But now, not only are US proxies allowing ISIS to peacefully retreat but they are visibly coalescing on the battle field. These realities also corroborate the story of SDF fighters being wounded in a Syrian led strike on known ISIS targets. As I wrote previously in The Duran, this is because SDF militants are fighting beside ISIS.

The fact of the matter is that, the Kurdish led SDF and ISIS now share the same strategic goals, in spite of apparent ideological differences. Both seek to aggressively and illegally prevent Syria from liberating her sovereignty territory and in so doing, both are challenging the territorial unity and integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. Likewise, each group’s ideology is opposed to the Arabist Constitution of Syria, seeking instead to lay the ground work for sectarian ideologies in the areas they seek to illegally annex.

Most worryingly, both militant groups are clearly collaborating and colluding with each other and with the United States, in a proxy war against Syria and the interests and safety of her allies, including Russia and Iran.

What once was only partly clear, is now as clear as the following colour photographs from the Russian Defense Ministry.

The images released by the Russian Defense Ministry encourage speculation that the US and SDF forces have some sort of “understanding” with IS terrorists operating in the region, according to Ammar Waqqaf, the director of the Gnosos think tank.

“From the footage, the Americans seem to be and the SDF seem to be quite at leisure, they are not expecting any attack any time soon,” Waqqaf told RT.

“The reason why this may be the case is that there has been some sort of understandings with ISIS over there. Probably they were given some amnesty, that they are not going to be prosecuted, … or they were given guarantees that they would not be given back to the state.”

The SDF, ISIS and the United States are fighting on the same side of the conflict in Syria, it is the side of terrorism which seeks to destroy the secular, modern, pluralistic and independent Syrian Arab Republic.

Earlier in September, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov accused the SDF of collusion with ISIS terrorists. “SDF militants work to the same objectives as IS terrorists. Russian drones and intelligence have not recorded any confrontations between IS and the ‘third force,’ the SDF,” Konashenkov said.

This proves that the Hollywood actor Morgan Freeman was correct. The US and Russia are at war, albeit a proxy war which includes ISIS.

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