government spending

March 14, 2018, Story 1: Student March For More Government Intervention After Numerous Government Failures in Florida — Government School Indoctrination Will Get You Killed — Baby Sitting Indoctrination Centers (Schools and Colleges) Are Dangerous To Your Mental and Physical Health — Government Control Not Gun Control — Videos — Story 2: Stephen Hawking Dead At 76 — Videos

Posted on March 14, 2018. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, College, Communications, conservatives, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Documentary, Economics, Education, Elections, Employment, Faith, Family, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government, government spending, High School, history, Journalism, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Pistols, Political Correctness, Politics, Programming, Psychology, Radio, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Rifles, Spying, Strategy, Terrorism, Video, War, Weapons, Welfare, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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We are too solicitous for government intervention, on the theory, first, that the people themselves are helpless, and second, that the Government has superior capacity for action. Often times both of these conclusions are wrong.

Calvin Coolidge

“If you want government to intervene domestically, you’re a liberal. If you want government to intervene overseas, you’re a conservative. If you want government to intervene everywhere, you’re a moderate.

If you don’t want government to intervene anywhere, you’re an extremist.”
~ Joseph Sobran

I’m a little embarrassed about how long it took me to see the folly of most government intervention. It was probably 15 years before I really woke up to the fact that almost everything government attempts to do, it makes worse.

John Stossel

Best 7 minutes on gun control I have ever seen!

Tucker: Assault weapons ban will not stop mass killings

Tucker: Calls for gun control are a kind of class warfare

Shapiro: Security in schools needs to be radically escalated

Banning guns won’t stop violence: Crime Prevention Research

John Lott: Evidence proves owning a gun is the best way to protect your family

John Lott: The War on Guns

Students Stage Walkout to White House, Capitol

#MarchForOurLives in DC

Student speaks in front of the U.S. Capitol on #NationalWalkoutDay

Students across the country walk out to protest gun violence

#SchoolShootings Coverage: Blame #Trump and #Guns But Never #PsychMeds Per #BigPharma Instructions

Megyn Kelly On National School Walkout: ‘What A Thing To See Students Rise Up’ | Megyn Kelly TODAY

Government Interference

Yaron Answers: Capitalizing On Government Intervention

Story 2: Stephen Hawking Dead At 76 — Videos

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Stephen Hawking dead at 76

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Stephen Hawking’s final warning to humanity: Legendary physicist believed we must leave Earth in the next 200 years or face EXTINCTION

  • Professor Hawking believed life on Earth could easily be wiped out
  • Dangers include asteroids, AI, over-population and climate change 
  • Making contact with aliens and human aggression could also spell the end 
  • Future generations must forge a new life in space if we want to survive, he said

Humans must leave Earth in the next 200 years if we want to survive.

That was the stark warning issued by Professor Stephen Hawking in the months before his death today at the age of 76.

The legendary physicists believed that life on Earth could be wiped out by a disaster such as an asteroid strike, AI or an alien invasion.

He also warned over-population, human aggression and climate change could cause humanity to self-destruct.

He believed, if our species had any hope of survival, future generations would need to forge a new life in space.

Scroll down for video

Humans must leave Earth within 200 years if we want to survive. That was the stark warning issued by Professor Stephen Hawking in the months before he death today at the age of 76 

Climate change

One of Hawking’s main fears for the planet was global warming.

‘Our physical resources are being drained, at an alarming rate. We have given our planet the disastrous gift of climate change,’ Hawking warned in July.

‘Rising temperatures, reduction of the polar ice caps, deforestation, and decimation of animal species. We can be an ignorant, unthinking lot.’

Hawking said that Earth will one day look like the 460°C (860°F) planet Venus if we don’t cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Hawking said that Earth (stock image) will one day look like the 460°C (860°F) planet Venus if we don't cut greenhouse gas emissions

‘Next time you meet a climate change denier, tell them to take a trip to Venus. I will pay the fare,’ Hawking quipped.

The physicist also believed President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement has doomed our planet.

He warned Trump’s decision would caused avoidable damage to our ‘beautiful planet’ for generations to come.

‘We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible,’ the celebrated scientist told BBC last year.

Asteroid strikes

If global warming doesn’t wipe us out, Hawking believed Earth would be destroyed by an asteroid strike.

‘This is not science fiction. It is guaranteed by the laws of physics and probability,’ he said.

‘To stay risks being annihilated.

‘Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity. It may also determine whether we have any future at all.’

Hawking was working with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Starshot project to send a fleet of tiny ‘nanocraft’ carrying light sails on a four light-year journey to Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to Earth.

‘If we succeed we will send a probe to Alpha Centauri within the lifetime of some of you alive today,’ he said.

Astronomers estimate that there is a reasonable chance of an Earth-like planet existing in the ‘habitable zones’ of Alpha Centauri’s three-star system.

If global warming doesn't wipe us out, Hawking believed Earth would be destroyed by an asteroid strike (stock image)

‘It is clear we are entering a new space age. We are standing at the threshold of a new era’, said Hawking.

‘Human colonisation and other planets is no longer science fiction, it can be science fact.’

Hawking believed that In the long run the human race should not have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet.

‘I just hope we can avoid dropping the basket until then’, he said.

 

AI could replace humans

Hawking claimed that AI will soon reach a level where it will be a ‘new form of life that will outperform humans.’

He even went so far as to say that AI may replace humans altogether, although he didn’t specify a timeline for his predictions.

The chilling comments during a recent interview with Wired.

He said: ‘The genie is out of the bottle. I fear that AI may replace humans altogether.

Hawking even went so far as to say that AI may replace humans altogether, although he didn't specify a timeline for his predictions (stock image)

The world pays tribute to the late Stephen Hawking on Twitter
‘If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself.

‘This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.’

He also he said the AI apocalypse was impending and ‘some form of government’ would be needed to control the technology.

During the interview, Hawking also urged more people to take an interest in science, claiming that there would be ‘serious consequences’ if this didn’t happen.

Stephen Hawking’s pearls of wisdom

– On the reason why the universe exists: ‘If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason – for then we would know the mind of God’ – A Brief History Of Time, published 1988.

– On being diagnosed with motor neurone disease: ‘My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus’ – Interview in The New York Times, December 2004.

– On black holes: ‘Einstein was wrong when he said, ‘God does not play dice’. Consideration of black holes suggests, not only that God does play dice, but that he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can’t be seen’ – The Nature Of Space And Time, published 1996.

– On God: ‘It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going’ – The Grand Design, published 2010.

– On commercial success: ‘I want my books sold on airport bookstalls’ – Interview in The New York Times, December 2004.

– On fame: ‘The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognised. It is not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away’ – Interview on Israeli TV, December 2006.

– On an imperfect world: ‘Without imperfection, you or I would not exist’ – In Into The Universe With Stephen Hawking, The Discovery Channel, 2010.

– On euthanasia: ‘The victim should have the right to end his life, if he wants. But I think it would be a great mistake. However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope’ – Quoted in People’s Daily Online, June 2006.

– On intellectual showboating: ‘People who boast about their IQ are losers’ – Interview in The New York Times, December 2004.

– On the possibility of contact between humans and aliens: ‘I think it would be a disaster. The extraterrestrials would probably be far in advance of us. The history of advanced races meeting more primitive people on this planet is not very happy, and they were the same species. I think we should keep our heads low’ – In Naked Science: Alien Contact, The National Geographic Channel, 2004.

– On the importance of having a sense of humour: ‘Life would be tragic if it weren’t funny’ – Interview in The New York Times, December 2004.

– On death: ‘I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first’ – Interview in The Guardian, May 2011.’

Human aggression

Hawking has previously warned aggression is humanity’s biggest failing and could ‘destroy it all’.

The remark was made back in 2015 in response to a question about what human shortcomings he would change.

Talking to an audience in the Science Museum, the renowned scientist said ‘The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression’.

‘It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory or a partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all’, writes the Independent.

He said he feared evolution has ‘inbuilt’ it into the human genome, commenting that there was no sign of conflict lessening.

What’s more, he said the development of militarised technology and weapons of mass destruction could make this instinct even more dangerous.

He said empathy was the best of human emotions and meant we could be brought together in a loving state.

Aliens

Hawking also warned that if we ever did find aliens they would probably wipe us out.

‘As I grow older I am more convinced than ever that we are not alone,’ he said in a video posted online called Stephen Hawking’s Favourite Places.

The clip showed him visiting different locations across the cosmos, writes the Independent.

One of the places he visits is Gliese 832c, a planet that people speculate could be home to alien life.

‘One day we might receive a signal from a planet like Gliese 832c, but we should be wary of answering back.

‘Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn’t turn out so well’, he said.

Hawking became increasing convinced there was other life out there as he got older and he led a new project called the Breakthrough Listen project to find out.

He said that any alien civilisation would be ‘vastly more powerful and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.’

Overpopulation

The renowned scientist also warned that a man-made catastrophe could spell the end for our species.

The renowned physicist believed that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as asteroid strikes, epidemics, over-population (stock image) and climate change

The renowned physicist believed that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as asteroid strikes, epidemics, over-population (stock image) and climate change

‘For me, the really concerning aspect of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together,’ Hawking said in a Guardian opinion piece in 2016.

‘We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans.

‘Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity’, he said.

In November 2016, Hawking was more conservative in his estimates.

Jane and Stephen in the mis-1960s, shortly after his diagnosis with motor neurone disease and being given two years to live

Jane and Stephen in the mis-1960s, shortly after his diagnosis with motor neurone disease and being given two years to live

He warned that humans could not survive another 1,000 years on ‘fragile’ Earth.

At a talk in Cambridge, Hawking gave a one-hour whirlwind history of man’s understanding of the origin of the universe from primordial creation myths to the most cutting edge predictions made by ‘M-theory’.

He said: ‘Perhaps one day we will be able to use gravitational waves to look back into the heart of the Big Bang.

‘Most recent advances in cosmology have been achieved from space where there are uninterrupted views of our Universe but we must also continue to go into space for the future of humanity.

Astrophysicist Hawking floats on a zero-gravity jet in April 2007. The modified jet carrying Hawking, physicians and nurses, and dozens of others first flew up to 24,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean off Florida

Astrophysicist Hawking floats on a zero-gravity jet in April 2007. The modified jet carrying Hawking, physicians and nurses, and dozens of others first flew up to 24,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean off Florida

‘I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping our fragile planet.’

Hawking, who has said he wanted to go into space on Virgin boss Richard Branson’s Ride Virgin Atlantic spaceship, continued: ‘I therefore want to encourage public interest in space, and I have been getting my training in early.’

Hawking added: ‘It has been a glorious time to be alive and doing research in theoretical physics.

‘Our picture of the universe has changed a great deal in the last 50 years and I am happy if I have made a small contribution.

‘The fact that we humans who are ourselves mere collections of fundamental particles of nature have been able to come so close to understanding the laws that are governing us and our universe is a great achievement.’

Hawking has previously described his views on the future of space travel, in the afterword of the book, ‘How to Make a Spaceship.’

He said: ‘I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as a sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers,’ he said.

‘I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go to space.’

Making a poignant plea to his young audience of students from the University of Oxford, where he himself did his undergraduate degree, he said: ‘Remember to look up to the stars and not down at your feet.

‘Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist.

‘Be curious and however life may seem there’s always something you can do and succeed at – it matters that you don’t just give up.’

‘Medical miracle’ Stephen Hawking defied the odds for 55 years

Stephen Hawking was one of the world’s most acclaimed cosmologists, a medical miracle, and probably the galaxy’s most unlikely superstar celebrity.

After being diagnosed with a rare form of motor neurone disease in 1964 at the age of 22, he was given just a few years to live.

Yet against all odds Professor Hawking celebrated his 70th birthday nearly half a century later as one of the most brilliant and famous scientists of the modern age.

Despite being wheelchair-bound, almost completely paralysed and unable to speak except through his trademark voice synthesiser, he wrote a plethora of scientific papers that earned him comparisons with Albert Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton.

At the same time he embraced popular culture with enthusiasm and humour, appearing in TV cartoon The Simpsons, starring in Star Trek and providing the voice-over for a British Telecom commercial that was later sampled on rock band Pink Floyd’s The Division Bell album.

His rise to fame and relationship with his first wife, Jane, was dramatised in a 2014 film, The Theory Of Everything, in which Eddie Redmayne put in an Oscar-winning performance as the physicist battling with a devastating illness.

He was best known for his work on black holes, the mysterious infinitely dense regions of compressed matter where the normal laws of physics break down, which dominated the whole of his academic life.

Hawking is pictured with his  children Robert, Lucy & Tim and his first wife Jane 

Hawking is pictured with his  children Robert, Lucy & Tim and his first wife Jane

Prof Hawking’s crowning achievement was his prediction in the 1970s that black holes can emit energy, despite the classical view that nothing – not even light – can escape their gravity.

Hawking Radiation, based on mathematical concepts arising from quantum mechanics, the branch of science that deals with the weird world of sub-atomic particles, eventually causes black holes to ‘evaporate’ and vanish, according to the theory.

Had the existence of Hawking Radiation been proved by astronomers or physicists, it would almost certainly have earned Prof Hawking a Nobel Prize. As it turned out, the greatest scientific accolade eluded him until the time of this death.

Born in Oxford on January 8 1942 – 300 years after the death of astronomer Galileo Galilei – Prof Hawking grew up in St Albans.

He had a difficult time at the local public school and was persecuted as a ‘swot’ who was more interested in jazz, classical music and debating than sport and pop.

Although not top of the class, he was good at maths and ‘chaotically enthusiastic in chemistry’.

As an undergraduate at Oxford, the young Hawking was so good at physics that he got through with little effort.

He later calculated that his work there ‘amounted to an average of just an hour a day’ and commented: ‘I’m not proud of this lack of work, I’m just describing my attitude at the time, which I shared with most of my fellow students.

‘You were supposed to be brilliant without effort, or to accept your limitations and get a fourth-class degree.’

Hawking got a first and went to Cambridge to begin work on his PhD, but already he was beginning to experience early symptoms of his illness.

During his last year at Oxford he became clumsy, and twice fell over for no apparent reason. Shortly after his 21st birthday he went for tests, and at 22 he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.

The news came as an enormous shock that for a time plunged the budding academic into deep despair. But he was rescued by an old friend, Jane Wilde, who went on to become his first wife, giving him a family with three children.

After a painful period coming to terms with his condition, Prof Hawking threw himself into his work.

At one Royal Society meeting, the still-unknown Hawking interrupted a lecture by renowned astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle, then at the pinnacle of his career, to inform him that he had made a mistake.

An irritated Sir Fred asked how Hawking presumed to know that his calculations were wrong. Hawking replied: ‘Because I’ve worked them out in my head.’

Eddie Redmayne won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking in 2014 

Eddie Redmayne won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking in 2014

In the 1980s, Prof Hawking and Professor Jim Hartle, from the University of California at Santa Barbara, proposed a model of the universe which had no boundaries in space or time.

The concept was described in his best-selling popular science book A Brief History Of Time, published in 1988, which sold 25 million copies worldwide.

As well as razor sharp intellect, Prof Hawking also possessed an almost child-like sense of fun, which helped to endear him to members of the public.

He booked a seat on Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic sub-orbital space plane and rehearsed for the trip by floating inside a steep-diving Nasa aircraft – dubbed the ‘vomit comet’ – used to simulate weightlessness.

On one wall of his office at Cambridge University was a clock depicting Homer Simpson, whose theory of a ‘doughnut-shaped universe’ he threatened to steal in an episode of the cartoon show. He is said to have glared at the clock whenever a visitor was late.

From 1979 to 2009 he was Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the university – a post once held by Sir Isaac Newton. He went on to become director of research in the university’s Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.

Upheaval in his personal life also hit the headlines, and in February 1990 he left Jane, his wife of 25 years, to set up home with one of his nurses, Elaine Mason. The couple married in September 1995 but divorced in 2006.

Throughout his career Prof Hawking was showered with honorary degrees, medals, awards and prizes, and in 1982 he was made a CBE.

But he also ruffled a few feathers within the scientific establishment with far-fetched statements about the existence of extraterrestrials, time travel, and the creation of humans through genetic engineering.

He has also predicted the end of humanity, due to global warming, a new killer virus, or the impact of a large comet.

In 2015 he teamed up with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner who has launched a series of projects aimed at finding evidence of alien life.

Hawking and his new bride Elaine Mason pose for pictures after the blessing of their wedding at St. Barnabus Church September 16, 1995

Hawking and his new bride Elaine Mason pose for pictures after the blessing of their wedding at St. Barnabus Church September 16, 1995

The decade-long Breakthrough Listen initiative aims to step up the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Seti) by listening out for alien signals with more sensitivity than ever before.

The even bolder Starshot Initiative, announced in 2016, envisages sending tiny light-propelled robot space craft on a 20-year voyage to the Alpha Centauri star system.

Meanwhile Prof Hawking’s ‘serious’ work continued, focusing on the thorny question of what happens to all the information that disappears into a black hole. One of the fundamental tenets of physics is that information data can never be completely erased from the universe.

A paper co-authored by Prof Hawking and published online in Physical Review Letters in June 2016 suggests that even after a black hole has evaporated, the information it consumed during its life remains in a fuzzy ‘halo’ – but not necessarily in the proper order.

Prof Hawking outlined his theories about black holes in a series of Reith Lectures broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in January and February 2016.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5498731/Stephen-Hawkings-final-warning-humanity.html#ixzz59lrOeYUJ

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March 13, 2018, Story 1: Trump’s Game of Chairs: Fires Rex Tillerson and Replaces Him With CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Who is Replaced By Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel — Videos — Story 2: Trump Views Prototypes of Wall — Miles Built 0 and Illegal Aliens Deported Less Than 1% of 30-60 Million Illegal Aliens in U.S. — Trump Promises Still Not Kept — Videos — Story 3: Attorney General Sessions Either Appoints Second Special Counsel To Investigate and Prosecute Many Crimes Obama Administration and Bill and Hillary Clinton or Is Next To Be Fired– Videos

Posted on March 13, 2018. Filed under: Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Congress, conservatives, Constitution, Crime, Crisis, Culture, Documentary, Drug Cartels, Economics, Education, Elections, Employment, Faith, Family, Farming, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Fraud, Freedom, Friends, Genocide, government, government spending, Health, Homicide, Illegal, Immigration, Investments, IRS, Journalism, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, media, Money, Narcissism, Natural Gas, Newspapers, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Political Correctness, Politics, Psychology, Radio, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulations, Resources, Reviews, Spying, Strategy, Success, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Television, Terrorism, Torture, Unemployment, Video, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Welfare, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Trump’s Game of Chairs: Fires Rex Tillerson and Replaces Him With CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Who is Replaced By Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel — Videos —

Flurry of staff changes sends shockwaves through Washington

Sources: McMaster, Kelly poised to depart soon

James Clapper: I support Trump’s pick for CIA director

Trump’s removal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson long anticipated

Tex Tillerson, Trump have different world views: Fmr. Asst. Secretary of State

Donald Trump fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson | ITV News

Trump fires Tillerson after clashes

Rex Tillerson Thought He Was ‘Moderating’ President Donald Trump | TODAY

Tillerson speaks out after being fired

Donald Trump’s Pick For CIA Director Gina Haspel Reportedly Tortured People | Velshi & Ruhle | MSNBC

Trump Might Replace Tillerson With CIA’s Pompeo

Tillerson’s Bounced as #SoS, Ex-CIA Pompeo’s In and #MSM Yet Again Have to Learn About in on Twitter

Live Stream: Tillerson’s Unceremonious Boot and Trump’s Alleged Torture Mistress CIA Chief

Ben Shapiro Reacts To Rex Tillerson Firing

Trump didn’t speak to me for THREE HOURS after firing me on Twitter says Rex Tillerson as he leaves the State Department without a word of praise for the president

  • Rex Tillerson spoke Tuesday afternoon at the State Department hours after Trump fired him on Twitter
  • He said it had been more than three hours between the announcement he was going and Trump speaking to him from Air Force One 
  • Made no tribute to Trump and offered him no thanks as he said he was returning to private life 
  • Dramatic morning tweet by the president announced that Rex Tillerson has been fired as Secretary of State and replaced by CIA director Mike Pompeo
  • Tillerson’s last act was to blame Russia for the poisoning of its former spy Sergei Skripal at a British pizza restaurant – something White House had not done 
  • Tillerson, the former boss of Exxon Mobil, had just been on a trip to Africa and was last seen boarding his Air Force place on Monday  
  • Gina Haspel becomes first ever women to be Director of the CIA after clandestine career and involvement in ‘black sites’ 
  • Tillerson had disagreed with Trump on Iran and North Korea, the president said – but he had also been reported to have called the president a ‘f***ing moron’ 

And in a statement to reporters, Tillerson pointedly neglected to thank Trump for the opportunity to serve in the role once inhabited by Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Webster and Henry Kissinger. Instead he thanked ‘the 300-plus million Americans’ whom he ultimately served, and said he would soon thank his front-office and policy planning staff in person.

He said shortly after 2:00 p.m. that he had talked with Trump around lunchtime. The president’s unexpected tweet came before 9:00 a.m.

‘I received a call today from the President of the United States a little after noontime from Air Force One,’ he said.

‘I’ve also spoken to White House Chief of Staff Kelly to ensure we have clarity as to the days ahead.’

The shaken-sounding outgoing cabinet secretary explained that his official ending date will be March 31, and that he aims for an ‘orderly and smooth transition’ for his replacement, CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will assume Tillerson’s duties at midnight. But Tillerson said his official ‘commission’ – his grant of authority from the president – wouldn’t expire until the end of the month.

Trump effectively fired Tillerson on Tuesday without telling him personally, announcing on Twitter that he would dismiss him and elevate the nation’s spymaster to the role of global diplomat-in-chief.

And he said he will appoint a woman to lead the CIA for the first time in history.  

Quitting: Rex Tillerosn issued a statement at the State Department telling how it had been hours between his firing on Twitter and Trump speaking to him

Final act: Tillerson said he will return to 'private life' after 14 months of turbulent leadership of the State Department and refused to take questions as he left the podium 

Final act: Tillerson said he will return to ‘private life’ after 14 months of turbulent leadership of the State Department and refused to take questions as he left the podium

Rex Tillerson is pictured leaving his home on Tuesday, en route to the State Department for what would be his last act as secretary of state

Rex Tillerson is pictured leaving his home on Tuesday, en route to the State Department for what would be his last act as secretary of state

This is on me: Trump used twitter to terminate the career of Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon Mobil boss who had been secretary of state for 15 months. An official revealed the president did not speak to Tillerson
Rex Tillerson spotted for the first time since Trump fired him

You're fired: Rex Tillerson was abruptly fired by Donald Trump on Tuesday morning in a single tweet

Replacement: Mike Pompeo, who had been CIA director, will now lead the State Department

Replacement: Mike Pompeo, who had been CIA director, will now lead the State Department and Gina Haspel, a career CIA officer who was its deputy director will become the first woman to lead it

After clashes, Trump fires Tillerson and immediately taps Pompeo

Family: Rex Tillerson had stepped down as CEO of Exxon Mobil when he was offered the job by Trump. His wife Renda St. Clair persuaded him to take it saying: ‘I told you God’s not through with you.’

YOU’RE ALL FIRED! DONALD TRUMP’S ASTONISHING LIST OF SENIOR DEPARTURES

Who went and when: 

March 13, 2018: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

March 12, 2018: Special Assistant and personal aide to the president John McEntee

March 6, 2018: Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers Gary Cohn

Feb. 28, 2018: Communications Director Hope Hicks

Feb. 27, 2018: Deputy Communications Director Josh Raffel

Feb. 7, 2018: Staff Secretary Rob Porter

Dec. 13, 2017: Communications Director for the White House Office of Public Liaison Omarosa Manigault Newman

Dec. 8, 2017: Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell

Sept. 29, 2017: Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price

Aug. 25, 2017: National security aide Sebastian Gorka

Aug. 18, 2017: Chief strategist Steve Bannon

July 31, 2017: Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci

July 28, 2017: Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

July 21, 2017: Press secretary Sean Spicer

May 30, 2017: Communications Director Michael Dubke

May 9, 2017: FBI Director James Comey

March 30, 2017: Deputy Chief of Staff Katie Walsh

Feb. 13, 2017: National Security Adviser Michael Flynn

Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Steven Goldstein said in a statement that Tillerson had ‘had every intention of staying.’

‘The Secretary did not speak to the President and is unaware of the reason, but he is grateful for the opportunity to serve,’ Goldstein added.

He was later fired himself for departing from the official White House line – which was that Trump had told Tillerson on Friday that he would be leaving.

Tillerson’s last public act had been firmly blaming Russia for the poisoning of a former spy and his daughter – which the White House had pointedly avoided saying was carried out by Vladimir Putin’s government.

As he left the White House for a trip to California, Trump told reporters that he and Tillerson had been ‘talking about this for a long time’ but that he ‘made the decision by myself.’

‘We disagreed on things,’ Trump said, citing the Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran. ‘I think Rex will be much happier now,’ he declared.

‘We were not really thinking the same. With Mike, Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process. I think it’s going to go very well.’

Trump made no mention of the most notorious tussle between him and Tillerson, when the secretary of state was reported to have called the president a ‘f***ing moron’ then refused to deny it.

The State Department said Tillerson only learned of his termination when he read Trump’s tweet on Tuesday morning.

Two senior department officials said Tillerson received a call from John Kelly, Trump’s chief of staff, on Friday, but was only told that there might be a presidential tweet that would concern him.

Kelly didn’t tell Tillerson what the tweet might say or when it might actually publish, according to the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity.

Tillerson had told reporters on his plane he had cut short his trip by one night because he was exhausted after working most of the night two nights in a row and getting sick in Ethiopia.

There were no obvious signs from his behavior or his aides on the plane that his departure was imminent.

‘I felt like, look, I just need to get back,’ Tillerson said.

Instead he was fired and left to spend time with his wife, Renda St. Clair, who had told him to take the job when he was reluctant to himself.

He had revealed last year how when Trump offered him the role ‘I was going to the ranch to be with my grandkids.’

Instead his wife shook her finger in his face and told him: ‘I told you God’s not through with you.’

But by last week Trump was through with Tillerson instead.

One senior White House official said that when Trump made the dramatic and sudden decision last Friday to meet with Kim Jong Un – a decision made while Tillerson was in Africa – an aide asked if Tillerson should weigh in on the matter.

Rex Tillerson and Donald Trump shared a tense moment in China last November which shed light on their troubled relationship, the Wall Street Journalreported.

They and other U.S. officials were in the Great Hall of the People and having a meal in a private room courtesy of their Chinese hosts. 

But an unappetizing Caesar salad which arrived with wilted greens was sitting on the table – and Trump grew worried it would offend the hosts.

‘Rex, eat the salad,’ Trump told Tillerson.

Tillerson laughed off the remark but did not follow orders and left the salad untouched.

 Trump said there was no reason to consult him because no matter what the group decided, Tillerson would be against it, the official said.

On the White House lawn Trump gushed that his future secretary Mike Pompeo has ‘tremendous energy, tremendous intellect, we’re always on the same wavelength. The relationship has been very good.’

The president had tweeted earlier that Pompeo ‘will do a fantastic job!’

‘Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!’

Haspel was the CIA’s deputy director, a career officer who was a longtime clandestine officer.

She was involved in running a black site during the notorious CIA detention program which saw prisoners waterboarded, and could face a highly rocky confirmation hearing in front of the Senate.

Haspel, 61, was the boss of a prison in Thailand codenamed Cat’s Eye where al Qaeda suspects were held., including Abu Zubatdah, who was waterboarded 83 times in a month, sleep deprived and lost his left eye.

She also ordered the destruction of tapes from the facility and when she was appointed deputy CIA director, Democratic senators on the Senate Intelligence Committee urged Trump to reconsider his decision, setting up a confrontational confirmation hearing.

 Key figure: Trump repeatedly crossed swords with Rex Tillerson, including a public episode in October where the president chided him on Twitter for ‘wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man’ – a reference to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un – which Trump is now going to do face-to-face

In a statement, Trump said Pompeo ‘graduated first in his class at West Point, served with distinction in the U.S. Army, and graduated with Honors from Harvard Law School. He went on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives with a proven record of working across the aisle.’

He called Haspel’s move to the CIA’s reins ‘a historic milestone.’

Trump also had words of praise for Tillerson: ‘A great deal has been accomplished over the last fourteen months, and I wish him and his family well,’ he said.

The president, however, had clashed with Tillerson over and over again in the past year, seeing him as a relic of the Republican establishment at a time when the nation needed more unconventional thinking.

The Washington Post reported that Tillerson was ousted on Friday, suggesting that a White House known best for leaking information kept it a secret all weekend.

The outgoing diplomat’s last act in office was a shot across Vladimir Putin’s bow, saying Monday that the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy in the UK ‘clearly came from Russia’ – and vowing to respond – hours after the White House refused to blame the Kremlin.

In a strongly worded statement, he slammed Russia as an ‘irresponsible force of instability in the world’ and gave the British government his backing after Prime Minister Theresa May pointed her own finger toward Moscow.

‘We have full confidence in the UK’s investigation and its assessment that Russia was likely responsible for the nerve agent attack that took place in Salisbury last week,’ Tillerson said Monday.

 Final meeting: Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari was the last world leader to receive Tillerson as he wrapped up a swing through Africa
 Goodbye: Rex Tillerson was last seen on Monday boarding his plane home to the United States after a tour of Africa which concluded in Abuja, Nigeria, after taking in countries including Ethiopia and Kenya
Tillerson out! Trump replaces Secretary of State with Mike Pompeo
Downhill from here: Rex Tillerson was sworn in by Mike Pence in the Oval Office on February 1 2017, with his wife Renda St. Clair holding the Bible. She had told him to take the job over his own reluctance
Family time: There was no sign of Rex Tillerson at hiss home in D.C.’s upscale Kalorama Tuesday. Also fired was Steven Goldstein, under secretary of state for public affairs who revealed Tillerson had been blindsided by his firing – then got axed himself

Simulation: Some of the ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ used at the CIA ‘black site’ run by Trump’s pick to direct it were shown on Zero Dark Thirty, the movie about the hunt for bin Laden

‘There is never a justification for this type of attack, the attempted murder of a private citizen on the soil of a sovereign nation, and we are outraged that Russia appears to have again engaged in such behavior.

‘Russia continues to be an irresponsible force of instability in the world, acting with open disregard for the sovereignty of other states and the life of their citizens.’

He added that those responsible ‘must face appropriately serious consequences.’

Trump seemed to back him up on Tuesday, saying that he would be speaking with May later in the day.

‘It sounds to me like it would be Russia,’ he said, ‘based on all of the evidence that they have.’

Tillerson made the remarks during his trip to Africa just hours after the the White House broke a week-long silence to condemn the chemical attack, but declined to mention Moscow.’

Trump had repeatedly crossed swords with the former Exxon Mobil executive, including a public episode in October where the president chided him on Twitter for ‘wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man’ – a reference to North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.

Foreign policy veterans said at the time that they couldn’t recall an instance where a sitting president had undermined his secretary of state in such a humiliating fashion.

Lost an eye: Abu Zubaydah was one of those subjected to ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ which critics called torture. He was waterboarded 83 times and lost an eye

But five months later the president himself accepted Kim’s invitation for a face-to-face meeting over the hermit kingdom’s nuclear missile program.

Tillerson raised eyebrows in Washington last year with reports about his ‘f***ing moron’ verdict following a national security meeting in July about America’s nuclear posture.

He never directly denied making the caustic remark, leaving that to a State Department spokeswoman. Trump said the same day that he had ‘total confidence in Rex.’

Later that month, newly installed White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis begged Tillerson to stay on.

The following month, after Trump angered Americans on both sides of the aisle with tone-deaf comments about the role of neo-Nazis in a Virginia race riot, a furious Tillerson declined to defend him.

‘The president speaks for himself,’ Tillerson said at the time during a ‘Fox News Sunday’ interview.

Even then, the White House outwardly professed comfort with Tillerson and confidence in his abilities.

Tillerson took credit Tuesday for executing Trump’s ‘maximum pressure campaign’ against North Korea, a policy credited for bringing Kim to the table for direct nuclear negotiations.

Haspel will need to face a Senate confirmation hearing.

Pompeo will not – at least not right away – because the Senate confirmed him as the CIA director just three days into the Trump administration.

A different committee will ultimately have to grill him, however.

Trump said that his incoming secretary of state ‘has earned the praise of members in both parties by strengthening our intelligence gathering, modernizing our defensive and offensive capabilities, and building close ties with our friends and allies in the international intelligence community.’

‘I have gotten to know Mike very well over the past 14 months, and I am confident he is the right person for the job at this critical juncture,’ he added.

‘He will continue our program of restoring America’s standing in the world, strengthening our alliances, confronting our adversaries, and seeking the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.’

Rex Tillerson says Trump decided to meet Kim Jong Un himself

MIKE POMPEO, TRUMP’S NEW SECRETARY OF STATE, PURSUED HILLARY AND JOKED ABOUT ASSASSINATING KIM JONG-UN

Mike Pompeo, named Tuesday to be US secretary of state, comes from a one-year stint leading the Central Intelligence Agency where he earned Donald Trump’s trust delivering the president’s daily national security briefings and by toeing Trump’s line politically.

Pompeo, who replaces Rex Tillerson, brings the discipline of a former standout at West Point, the prestigious US military academy, as well as the political wiles of a four-term member of the House of Representatives, where he served on the controversial Intelligence Committee.

AS CIA director he cut a path into Trump’s inner circle with ready praise of the president, personally delivering many of the Oval Office’s crucial daily intelligence briefings.

He echoes Trump’s hard line against Iran and North Korea. But, currying the president’s favor, Pompeo has also avoided directly contradicting Trump’s insistence that Russia did not work to support his election in 2016 — even though that is what the CIA concludes.

‘With Mike Pompeo, we have a very similar thought process,’ Trump said Tuesday.

Pompeo, 54, has had a meteoric career that leaned heavily on political opportunities that ultimately led him to Trump.

Born and raised in southern California, he attended the US Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated top of his class in 1986, specializing in engineering.

He served in the military for five years – never in combat – and then left to attend Harvard Law School.

He later founded an engineering company in Wichita, Kansas, where financial backers included the conservative Koch brothers, oil industry billionaires and powerful movers and shakers in the Republican Party.

Pursuit: Pompeo made his name going after Hillary Clinton as a member of special committee formed to investigate the 2012 killing of a US ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

The Kochs backed his successful first run for Congress in 2010, and energy-related legislation he promoted in his first years in the House of Representatives was seen as very friendly to them.

He moved quickly onto the House Intelligence Committee, where, as overseer of the CIA and other agencies, he was privy to the country’s deepest secrets.

But he made his name on the special committee Republicans formed to investigate the 2012 killing of a US ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya.

It made him a leading voice against Trump’s political nemesis, Hillary Clinton, who as secretary of state at the time was blamed by Republicans for the deaths.

As director of the CIA, Pompeo has matched the tone of Trump’s foreign policy pronouncements.

‘The CIA, to be successful, must be aggressive, vicious, unforgiving, relentless,’ he said.

He joked about assassinating North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which raised fears of a return to the agency’s penchant for backing assassinations of dictators not in US favor.

He earned the president’s trust in the daily national security briefings, where he has readily accommodated the president’s aversion to reading long reports by having intelligence staff prepare simple graphic presentations of global risks and threats.

When pressed in public, he has said he supports the January 2017 report by the country’s top intelligence chiefs that concludes that Russia meddled in the 2016 presidential race in an effort to help Trump defeat Clinton.

Meanwhile, he has also stomached the president’s ugly attacks on the CIA, calling their report on Russia meddling fake news and accusing them of political bias.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5495087/Trump-FIRES-Rex-Tillerson-secretary-state.html

 

Story 2: Trump Views Prototypes of Wall — Miles Built 0 and Illegal Aliens Deported Less Than 1% of 30-60 Million Illegal Aliens in U.S. — Trump Promises Still Not Kept — Videos —

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Trump: Governor Brown has done a poor job running California

President Trump inspects border wall prototypes

President Trump tours U.S.-Mexico border, looks at border wall prototypes

See How President Donald Trump’s Border Wall Prototypes Are Taking Shape | NBC News

SPECIAL COVERAGE: President Trump Reviews Border Wall Prototypes

DOJ takes on California over sanctuary status

DOJ sues California over sanctuary status

Tucker: If GOP betrays voters on immigration, they’re toast

Trump administration suing California over sanctuary laws

California’s sanctuary city laws harm the immigrant community: ICE

Trump administration takes on California

Democrats want amnesty for the worst illegals: Ann Coulter

 

‘If you don’t have a wall system it would be BEDLAM!’ Trump inspects his border barricade options yards from Mexico and says existing wall ‘restored law and order’

  • President Trump’s first stop in California Tuesday was to see prototypes of his ‘big beautiful wall’ he wants constructed on the U.S.-Mexico border 
  • ‘If you won’t have a wall system it would be bedlam,’ the president told reporters making brief remarks during his tour 
  • During his prototype tour, the president said he wanted a see-through wall, that’s also difficult to climb

On Tuesday President Trump finally got a chance to see the eight towering prototypes that could be used to build his long-promised ‘big beautiful wall’ between the United States and Mexico.

‘If you don’t have a wall system, you’re not going to have a country,’ Trump said making brief remarks to reporters as he pointed out the various features of the walls. ‘If you don’t have a wall system it would be bedlam.’

Today marked the first time the president visited liberal California as president, and his first stop in San Diego was to see the wall options, where he stood on the U.S. side of the border just feet from Tijuana, Mexico, with protesters audibly chanting from the other side.

Speaking to a Border Control agent, the president was happy to hear that the current structure, an aging metal wall, had ‘re-established law and order’ when it was put in.

The president hoped his wall would prevent ’99 per cent’ of people and drugs from coming through.

President Trump speaks to reporters in front of a prototype for his proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico 

President Trump speaks to reporters in front of a prototype for his proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico

President Trump gave brief remarks after surveying the border wall prototypes Tuesday in San Diego, California 

President Trump gave brief remarks after surveying the border wall prototypes Tuesday in San Diego, California

President Trump stands alongside an option for a border wall Tuesday as he visits California for the first time 

President Trump stands alongside an option for a border wall Tuesday as he visits California for the first time

A number of border wall prototypes are seen looming behind President Trump (right) as he visits the state of California for the first time while in office 

A number of border wall prototypes are seen looming behind President Trump (right) as he visits the state of California for the first time while in office

President Trump is seen grinning as he discusses border wall prototypes with officials Tuesday in San Diego, California 

President Trump is seen grinning as he discusses border wall prototypes with officials Tuesday in San Diego, California

President Trump (center) takes a look at border wall designs in San Diego, California flanked by his Chief of Staff John Kelly (left) and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (right) 

President Trump arrives with his motorcade to look at prototypes for his proposed wall Tuesday in San Diego 

President Trump arrives with his motorcade to look at prototypes for his proposed wall Tuesday in San Diego

President Trump speaks in front of a prototype of a wall that he wants to see built between the United States and Mexico 

President Trump speaks in front of a prototype of a wall that he wants to see built between the United States and Mexico

Options for President Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico are seen behind him as he speaks to officials in San Diego on Tuesday alongside DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen (center) and Chief of Staff John Kelly (left) 

President Trump takes a look at some of the wall designs Tuesday in San Diego, directly across the border from Tijuana, Mexico

President Trump and his entourage walk by one of the border wall prototypes Tuesday as the Republican takes his first trip to California as president 

President Trump brought up the border wall on his second California stop as well, at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar 

Trump said he’d like the new wall to be partially see-through – in case there were cartels just on the other side – with concrete or a mix of steel and concrete at the top, something not easily climbable.

During the tour he claimed that Californians are actually more supportive of his border wall than they let on.

‘And by the way the state of California is begging us to build walls in certain areas, they don’t tell you that, and we said we won’t do that until we build the whole wall,’ Trump said.

He also used his brief remarks at the wall to rag on the state’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown.

‘I think Governor Brown has done a very poor job running California,’ Trump said.

The president complained about the state’s high taxes and that many California jurisdictions are so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ where local authorities won’t turn undocumented immigrants over to the feds.

He suggested that has brought ‘dangerous people’ and drugs ‘pouring’ into the state.

‘You know, hey, I have property in California, I will say. I don’t think too much about my property anymore, but I have great property in California,’ Trump said. ‘The taxes are way, way out of whack. And people are going to start to move pretty soon.’

‘So the governor of California – nice guy, I think he is a nice guy, I knew him a long time ago – has not done the job,’ Trump said.

After Trump’s wall stop, he addressed Marines at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, also in San Diego.

There, he touted the wall project as well.

‘We don’t have a choice. We need it. We need it for the drugs. We need it for the gangs,’ he said. ‘It will be 99.5 per cent successful,’ he added, upping the wall’s success rate by half a point.

‘People won’t be able to come over it. The drugs will stop by a lot,’ he said, adding the aside, ‘although we have to get a lot tougher with drug dealers, have to.’

The president has floated the idea of drug dealing being a capital crime.

Trump told the crowd of Marines that his trip to the border wall prototypes was ‘fascinating.’

‘We have two or three that really work,’ Trump said.

He argued that constructing prototypes first was the way to go.

‘I’m a builder. What I do best is build,’ the president continued. ‘You know other people they’d build a wall and say it doesn’t work. Well, wait a minute, we just built 1,000 miles of wall. Well, we made a mistake, it doesn’t work. We should have done it a different way.’

‘We are doing it before we build, better idea, don’t you think?’ Trump asked the troops.

‘We are going to have a great wall, it’s going to be very effective, it’s going to stop people, you’re not going to see them climbing over this wall too easily – that I can tell you,’ the president added.

By mid-afternoon he was off to Los Angeles to attend a fundraiser in the tony neighborhood of Beverly Hills in Los Angeles where he’s expected to raise $5 million. He’ll be staying in the state overnight.

There was a heavy police presence in San Diego for President Trump's visit to the border wall prototypes Tuesday afternoon 

Protesters are holding up signs in Tijuana, Mexico, as President Trump visits prototypes, seen behind them, for his so-called 'big, beautiful wall' 

Protesters are holding up signs in Tijuana, Mexico, as President Trump visits prototypes, seen behind them, for his so-called ‘big, beautiful wall’

A sign on the Mexican side of the border reads 'Trump, stop mass deportations.' It hangs on the current border fence that the president wants to replace with a taller, more fortified wall 

A sign on the Mexican side of the border reads ‘Trump, stop mass deportations.’ It hangs on the current border fence that the president wants to replace with a taller, more fortified wall

A pinata made to resemble the president is held up by a protester in Mexico Tuesday, as they stand along the current U.S.-Mexico border wall 

A pinata made to resemble the president is held up by a protester in Mexico Tuesday, as they stand along the current U.S.-Mexico border wall

President Trump's motorcade is seen heading to the area where the president would inspect several prototype walls to be used to construct his long-promised border wall with Mexico 

President Trump’s motorcade is seen heading to the area where the president would inspect several prototype walls to be used to construct his long-promised border wall with Mexico

A protester's sign is seen as President Trump arrives at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California on Tuesday 

A protester’s sign is seen as President Trump arrives at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Diego, California on Tuesday

An invitation to the fundraiser, obtained by the Los Angeles Times, shows ticket prices starting at $35,000.

Couples can also pay $100,000 for a photo with the president. The $250,000 tickets are for those who want to participate in a roundtable discussion with the commander-in-chief.

Funds will go toward the joint fundraising committee comprised of Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee.

Trump’s arrival will come just days after his Justice Department sued to block a trio of state laws designed to protect people living in the U.S. illegally.

Brown likened it to ‘an act of war’ with Trump’s administration.

‘The State of California is sheltering dangerous criminals in a brazen and lawless attack on our Constitutional system of government,’ Trump complained in his weekly address, accusing California’s leaders of being ‘in open defiance of federal law.’

President Trump waves to a crowd of reporters as he leaves the White House Tuesday for his first trip to California as president 

President Trump waves to a crowd of reporters as he leaves the White House Tuesday for his first trip to California as president

President Trump will visit the prototypes for his proposed border wall with Mexico while in San Diego. He'll also address the Marines in the Southern city before heading to Los Angeles for a high-dollar fundraiser in Beverly Hills 

President Trump will visit the prototypes for his proposed border wall with Mexico while in San Diego. He’ll also address the Marines in the Southern city before heading to Los Angeles for a high-dollar fundraiser in Beverly Hills

U.S. Border Patrol agents are seen preparing for President Trump's visit to San Diego on Tuesday 

U.S. Border Patrol agents are seen preparing for President Trump’s visit to San Diego on Tuesday

Law enforcement was out Tuesday morning preparing for President Trump's visit to San Diego later in the day 

Law enforcement was out Tuesday morning preparing for President Trump’s visit to San Diego later in the day

A protester awaits the arrival of President Trump along the U.S.- Mexico border in San Diego on Tuesday 

A protester awaits the arrival of President Trump along the U.S.- Mexico border in San Diego on Tuesday

A supporter of President Trump awaits the president as he takes his first trip to California on Tuesday. He'll look at prototypes of his pledged border wall between the U.S. and Mexico 

A supporter of President Trump awaits the president as he takes his first trip to California on Tuesday. He’ll look at prototypes of his pledged border wall between the U.S. and Mexico

Supporters and protesters await President Trump's arrival in California on Tuesday. In San Diego he'll look a prototypes for his proposed border wall with Mexico 

Supporters and protesters await President Trump’s arrival in California on Tuesday. In San Diego he’ll look a prototypes for his proposed border wall with Mexico

Trump is expected to visit these prototypes of border walls in San Diego, just across the border from Tijuana, Mexico

Trump is expected to visit these prototypes of border walls in San Diego, just across the border from Tijuana, Mexico

‘They don’t care about crime. They don’t care about death and killings. They don’t care about robberies,’ he said, calling on Congress to block the state’s federal funds.

Further north in tony Beverly Hills, Trump will entertain 1-percenters at a fundraising dinner where attendees will pay as much as $250,000 each

Last week, Oakland’s mayor warned residents of an impending immigration raid – a move that Trump called disgraceful and said put law enforcement officers at risk.

He brought up the Oakland mayor during his visit to the border wall today mid-way through his assault on the state’s governor.

‘You have sanctuary cities where have you criminals living in the sanctuary cities, and then the mayor of Oakland goes out and notifies when ICE is going in to pick them up,’ Trump said. ‘And many of them were criminals with criminal records and very dangerous people,’ he added.

The state has also joined lawsuits aimed at stopping construction of Trump’s stalled border wall.

And its judges have repeatedly ruled against policies Trump has tried to enact.

In recent months, Trump and other administration officials have threatened both to flood the state with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and to pull ICE out of the state completely.

‘I mean, frankly, if I wanted to pull our people from California, you would have a crying mess like you’ve never seen in California,’ Trump said last month, predicting ‘crime like nobody has ever seen crime in this country.’

Meanwhile, Trump’s acting ICE director has repeatedly threatened to increase its enforcement footprint in the state in retaliation for its limited cooperation with federal immigration authorities – and he appears to be making good on his promise.

‘California better hold on tight. They’re about to see a lot more special agents, a lot more deportation officers,’ Thomas Homan said on Fox earlier this year before his agency conducted a series of raids.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says California's Democratic politicians are 'stepping out of bounds' by 'refusing to follow federal law' on immigration

White House officials said the trip has been in the works for months and the timing so close to recent flare-ups was coincidental.

When asked if Trump planned to play nice on the trip, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, ‘Look, I think if anybody is stepping out of bounds here, it would be someone who is refusing to follow federal law, which is certainly not the president.’

‘And we’re going for what we hope to be an incredibly positive trip,’ Huckabee Sanders added.

Trump’s appearances in the left-leaning state during the 2016 campaign were marked by sometimes-violent clashes between his supporters and opposition groups.

In some cases, protesters blocked traffic and threw rocks and beer bottles.

Trump has insisted Mexico pay for the wall but Mexico has adamantly refused to consider the idea.

Organizers on both sides were urging people to remain peaceful after recent scuffles at rallies in Southern California, including brawls at a Dec. 9 rally near where the prototypes stand.

Trump’s more than yearlong absence from the nation’s most populous state – home to 1 in 8 Americans and, by itself, the world’s sixth-largest economy – has been conspicuous but not surprising. Trump country, it’s not.

As a candidate, Trump suggested he could win California, a state that hasn’t supported a Republican for the White House in three decades.

Since his election, Sacramento has emerged as a vanguard in the so-called Trump resistance. Democratic state Attorney General Xavier Becerra has filed nearly 30 lawsuits to block administration proposals.

California was the home of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, but Republican influence here has been fading for years as a surge in immigrants transformed the state and its voting patterns.

The number of Hispanics, blacks and Asians combined has outnumbered whites since 1998. Meanwhile, the state’s new voters, largely Latinos and Asians, lean Democratic, and Democrats hold every statewide office and control both chambers of the legislature by hefty margins.

Trump may not get the hero's welcome in California that he received Saturday night in western Pennsylvania

Two of the border wall prototypes are seen from the Mexican side of the border in Tijuana

Trump touts tighter border security at Latino National Council

Polls have found Trump deeply unpopular in the state, with most residents opposed to policies he’s championed, such as expanding offshore drilling.

Jessica Hayes, chairwoman of the San Diego County Democratic Party, said Trump’s anti-immigration rhetoric plays especially poorly in a state with close trade and tourism connections with Mexico.

‘These are our neighbors. These are our friends,’ she said.

Trump has repeatedly floated the idea of flying in to pick the winning design for the border wall, telling rallygoers last year in Alabama: ‘I’m going to go out and look at them personally and pick the right one.’

The Department of Homeland Security has said there’s nothing to stop Trump from turning the wall design contest into a Miss Universe-style pageant.

But the department also says it doesn’t anticipate that a single prototype will be selected. Instead, the samples are expected ‘to inform future border wall design standards,’ said spokesman Tyler Houlton.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5495683/Protests-high-dollar-donors-greet-Trump-California-trip.html

Story 3: Attorney General Sessions Either Appoints Second Special Counsel To Investigate and Prosecute Many Crimes Obama Administration and Bill and Hillary Clinton or Is Next To Be Fired– Videos

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Jeff Sessions reacts to calls for a second special counsel

Gowdy: Special counsel necessary to investigate FBI process

Gowdy, Goodlatte make case for second independent counsel

Trump lashes out against Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Jay Sekulow talks potential special counsel on FISA abuses

Grassley, Graham push for an investigation into Trump dossier author

Rep. Jordan: What’s it going to take to get a second special counsel?

GOP lawmakers call for second special counsel to investigate Hillary Clinton, Loretta Lynch

Clinton, Lynch tarmac meeting details revealed in new emails

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March 12, 2018, Story 1: President Trump Unloads on Big Lie Media and Lying Lunatic Left Losers — Keep America Great! — Videos — Story 2: Case Closed: Absolutely No Evidence of Collusion of Trump or Cinton Campaign With Russians — Obama and Clinton Democratic Conspiracy and Destruction of Democratic Party — Video

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Story 1: President Trump Unloads on Big Lie Media and Lying Lunatic Left Losers — Videos —

Trump calls Chuck Todd ‘sleeping son of a bitch’

Trump veers off script with insults about Democrats

Full video: Trump rallies for Saccone in final days before Pennsylvania special election

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1980s: How Donald Trump Created Donald Trump | NBC News

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Victor D Hanson; Explains Perfectly how Trump pulled off the biggest Upset in Presidential History

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Story 2: Absolutely No Evidence of Collusion of Trump or Cinton Campaign With Russians — Obama and Clinton Democratic Conspiracy and Destruction of Democratic Party — Video

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House Republicans say probe found no evidence of collusion between Trump, Russia

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – House Intelligence Committee Republicans said on Monday the panel had finished conducting interviews in its investigation of Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, and found no collusion between President Donald Trump’s associates and Moscow’s efforts to influence the campaign.

“We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians,” committee Republicans said as they released an overview of their probe.

Representative Mike Conaway, who has led the panel’s investigation, said the panel had finished the interview phase of its probe.

“You never know what you never know, but we found no reason to think that there’s something we’re missing in this regard. We’ve talked to everybody we think we need to talk to,” Conaway said in an interview on Fox News Channel.

Committee Democrats had no immediate response to the announcement, which was expected. Panel Republicans have been saying for weeks they were near the end of the interview phase of the probe.

Reflecting a deep partisan divide on the House of Representatives panel, Democrats have been arguing that the probe is far from over. Representative Adam Schiff, the panel’s ranking Democrat, said last week that there were dozens more witnesses who should be called before the panel, and many more documents that should be subpoenaed.

Democrats have accused Republicans on the committee of shirking the investigation in order to protect Trump and his associates, some of whom have pleaded guilty to charges including lying to investigators and conspiring against the United States.

Trump has repeatedly denied collusion between his associates and Russia.

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John Birch Society — They’re Back — Eagles Rising — Videos

Posted on February 12, 2018. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Books, Business, College, Congress, conservatives, Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Culture, Documentary, Economics, Economics, Education, Elections, Employment, Faith, Family, Farming, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Fraud, Freedom, Friends, government, government spending, history, Language, Law, liberty, Life, media, Money, People, Philosophy, Photos, Political Correctness, Politics, Psychology, Radio, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulations, Strategy, Success, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Television, Welfare, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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History

Formed by Robert Welch in December 1958, The John Birch Society takes its name from the legendary World War II Army Captain John Birch. The organization’s overall goal, never altered in the 50-plus years of its existence, has always been to create sufficient understanding amongst the American people about both their country and its enemies, so that they could protect freedom and ensure continuation of the nation’s independence.

Always an education and action organization, the Society has never deviated from its opposition to communism and any other form of totalitarianism, certainly including the steady drift toward total government currently arising from within our own shores. But the positive promise of what can be built in an atmosphere of freedom has always been more of a motivation for members than any negative fear of what must be opposed.

While the Society has always focused on combating — or occasionally applauding — actions taken by government, the organization was also built on a moral foundation. Its motto proclaims the long-range goal of “Less government, more responsibility, and – with God’s help – a better world.” How much “less” government? Officials point to the U.S. Constitution and claim that adherence to its many limitations on power would result in the federal government being 20 percent its size and 20 percent its cost.

As for “more responsibility,” the Society insists that the Ten Commandments should guide all personal and organizational conduct. Agreeing with numerous pronouncements of our nation’s Founders, Society members believe that national freedom cannot long endure without moral restraint.

Soon after its creation, enemies discovered the Society’s potential to arouse and inform a generally sleeping population. At that point, there arose a totally unfair and withering smear campaign painting the organization and its members with an array of nasty and completely false charges, none of which ever had any validity.

With a membership made up of Americans of all races, colors, creeds, and national origins, the Society is currently enjoying a surge in activity, a large growth in acceptance, and increased hope for a future marked by less government and more responsibility. It is that combination that surely will, with God’s help, lead to the better world desired by all men and women of good will.

https://www.jbs.org/about-jbs/history

The John Birch Society Is Back

Bircher ideas, once on the fringe, are increasingly commonplace in today’s GOP and espoused by friends in high places. And the group is ready to make the most of it.

Robert Welch, founder and president of the John Birch Society, in a May 1961 photo.

Robert Welch, founder and president of the John Birch Society, in a May 1961 photo. | AP Photo

In an unseasonably warm Saturday in January, Jan Carter, a short, graying, 75-year-old retiree, appears pleased. The Central Texas Chapter of the John Birch Society, which Carter leads, is conducting a workshop titled “The Constitution Is the Solution” in the farming town of Holland—home to 1,200 residents, three churches, one stoplight and an annual corn festival. Carter was unsure if anyone would drive to such a remote area early on a weekend morning to get lectured about the Constitution, but, one by one, people are showing, renewing Carter’s “hope that the country can be saved.”

In the Holland Church of Christ, around the corner from a main street lined with abandoned buildings, Carter sits down to talk. She says that the John Birch Society—a group she was convinced could save the nation from a global conspiracy of leftists and communists more than half a century ago—has come roaring back to life in the nick of time. The more she thinks about the situation, the more she sees parallels to the 1950s and 1960s: evil domestic and international terrorists threatening to undo all that is good and holy in the United States.

These days, to the extent that most people know of the John Birch Society—that far-right group founded in the thick of the Cold War to fight communists and preach small government—it’s purely as a historical relic of a bygone era of sock hops and poodle skirts. But the John Birch Society lives. And though it is not the same robust organization it was in its 1960s heyday—when, by some counts, it had as many as 100,000 dues-paying members around the country and 60 full-time staff—after decades of declining membership and influence, the Birchers insist they are making a comeback. And they point to Texas as the epicenter of their restoration.

“There definitely is an increase in [our] activity, particularly in Texas, because Americans are seeking answers, but they can’t quite put their finger on what some of the real problems are,” says Bill Hahn, the John Birch Society’s vice president of communications, who spoke to Politico Magazine on the phone from the Society’s headquarters in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Carter, the head of the Central Texas Chapter, says that statewide, the group’s membership has doubled over the last three years (she declined to disclose exact numbers, as did Hahn, citing Society policy). “State legislators are joining the group,” she says, citing it as proof that their ideas are gaining salience as “more and more people are ready to fight the liberals who preach globalism and want to take away our freedom, our guns, religious values and our heritage.”

In that quest, they have common cause with powerful allies in Texas, including Senator Ted Cruz, Representative Louie Gohmert and a smattering of local officials. Recently at the state level, legislators have authored Bircher-esque bills that have made it further through the lawmaking process than many thought possible in Texas, even just a few years ago—though these are less the cause of the John Birch Society’s influence than an indication of the rise of its particular strain of politics. These include bills that would forbid any government entity from participating in “Agenda 21,” a UN sustainable development effort which JBS pamphlets describe as central to the “UN’s plan to establish control over all human activity”; prevent the theoretical sale of the Alamo to foreigners (since 1885 the state has owned the former mission, Texas’ most visited historic landmark, where the most famous battle of the Texas Revolution occurred); and repeal the Texas DREAM Act, which allows undocumented students who graduate from Texas high schools to pay in-state tuition at public colleges. And last month, Governor Greg Abbott signed the “American Laws for American Courts” Act into law, guarding against what the society has called “Sharia-creep” by prohibiting the use of Islamic Sharia law in Texas’ court system.

This is what the 21st-century John Birch Society looks like. Gone is the organization’s past obsession with ending the supposed communist plot to achieve mind-control through water fluoridation. What remains is a hodgepodge of isolationist, religious and right-wing goals that vary from concrete to abstract, from legitimate to conspiracy minded—goals that don’t look so different from the ideology coming out of the White House. It wants to pull the United States out of NAFTA (which it sees as the slippery slope that will lead us to a single-government North American Union), return America to what they call its Christian foundations, defundthe UN, abolish the departments of education and energy, and slash the federal government drastically. The John Birch Society once fulminated on the idea of Soviet infiltration of the U.S. government; now, it wants to stop the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election meddling and possible collusion with the campaign of President Donald Trump.

The Society’s ideas, once on the fringe, are increasingly commonplace in today’s Republican Party. And where Birchers once looked upon national Republican leaders as mortal enemies, the ones I met in Texas see an ally in the president. “All of us here voted for Trump,” says Carter. “And we’re optimistic about what he will do.”

***

The John Birch Society formed on a frigid Monday morning in December 1958, when 11 of the nation’s richest businessmen braved single-digit temperatures to attend a mysterious meeting in suburban Indianapolis.

They had arrived at the behest of candy magnate Robert Welch, who had made a fortune with his caramel-on-a-stick confection known as the “Sugar Daddy,” and now intended to spend that money defeating the wide-slung Communist conspiracy he was certain had infiltrated the federal government. Welch had invited these men to Indianapolis without giving a reason, and asked them to stay for two days.

After exchanging firm handshakes in the breakfast room of a sprawling, Tudor-style house in the tony Meridian Park neighborhood, Welch explained why he had brought this group together: The United States faced an existential threat from an “international Communist conspiracy” hatched by an “amoral gang of sophisticated criminals.” The power-hungry, God-hating, government worshipers had infiltrated newsrooms, public schools, legislative chambers and houses of worship. They were frighteningly close to total victory—Welch felt it in his gut. “These cunning megalomaniacs seek to make themselves the absolute rulers of a human race of enslaved robots, in which every civilized trait has been destroyed,” Welch wrote in The Blue Book of the John Birch Society, the organization’s founding history.

The chosen few gathered here would form the vanguard of a new political movement, an army of brave American patriots dedicated to preserving the country’s Christian and constitutional foundations. Welch christened the group the John Birch Society—named in memory of a U.S. soldier-turned-Baptist missionary killed by Chinese Communists in 1945—and laid out its goal: Destroying the “Communist conspiracy … or at least breaking its grip on our government and shattering its power within the United States.”

 

 

The Society was Welch’s attempt to root out the reds—an end goal he offered as justification for his opposition to the United Nations (“an instrument of Communist global conquest”), the civil rights movement (an attempt to establish an “independent Negro-Soviet Republic”), public water fluoridation, and Dwight Eisenhower (“a dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy”), among myriad other targets of his suspicion.

Prominent Texans quickly became fans. Dallas oilman H.L Hunt, the richest man in the world and a major Republican donor, espoused Bircher views on his popular radio program starting in the 1950s. Dallas Reverend W.A. Criswell, a segregationist and head of the largest Southern Baptist congregation in the world, praised Bircher positions from his pulpit and railed against “the leftists, the liberals, the pinks, and the welfare statists who are soft on communism and easy towards Russia.” Maj. Gen. Edwin Walker, born in small-town Texas and commander of 10,000 troops stationed in post-war Europe, distributed Bircher material to the men under his command. Walker, who called Harry Truman and Eleanor Roosevelt “definitely pink,” resigned after being investigated by the Kennedy administration for engaging in partisan political activity on the job in 1961. East Texas Congressman Martin Dies, the founder of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, was a regular contributor to the Society’s publications in the mid-1960s. These sons of the Lone Star State saw a nation careening towards unfettered Communism. They refused to remain silent.

Popular as Welch’s brand of post-McCarthy McCarthyism was with a certain segment of the right-wing populace, many other conservatives found his beliefs a mixture of detestable and impolitic—including, most famously, William F. Buckley, the founder and editor of National Review.

In the 1950s, Buckley was friendly with Welch, writes Buckley biographer Alvin Felzenberg, even promising to give a “little publicity” to his upstart organization. But the acidity of Welch’s anti-communist paranoia—alleging, for instance, that the cabal of communist agents atop the U.S. government included President Eisenhower, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and CIA Director Allen Dulles among its ranks—ate away at any relationship with Buckley, who saw such ramblings as a danger to conservatives.

By 1961, Buckley began to see the John Birch Society in general and Welch in particular as threats to the nascent presidential campaign of Senator Barry Goldwater, the rock-ribbed conservative whom Buckley wanted to receive the GOP’s presidential nomination in 1964. If conservatives counted the Birchers as allies, Buckley wrote in an April 1961 National Review column, the left could “anathematize the entire American right wing.”

In the popular memory, it was the first in a series of increasingly antagonistic columns in which Buckley “expelled” the Birchers from the conservative movement. But in reality, the John Birch Society never went away. It was weakened, yes, and its ranks have atrophied drastically. As an organization, the Society lacks its former influence and numbers. It is a pale imitation of its former self. But the increased popularity of the brand of paranoid, conspiracy-minded conservatism it pioneered suggests its finger is still firmly on the pulse of a certain type of anti-government ideology—one that is closer to the levers of power than ever before, especially in Texas, home of Alex Jones, Ron Paul and Ted Cruz.

***

In the annex of the Holland Church of Christ, Carter invites me to look at the assorted John Birch Society literature spread across a white plastic table. Pamphlets forecast the threat posed by Agenda 21, the “UN’s plan to establish control over all human activity.” The New Americanmagazine, the Society’s house organ, warns about the federal government gathering personal data from the pervasive technology all around us—toys, smartphones, appliances, even pacemakers. Nearby, there’s a stack of DVDs with titles like “Exposing Terrorism: Inside the Terror Triangle,” which promises to reveal the real culprits behind global terrorism.

Six people have shown up for part one of the “Constitution Is the Solution” workshop, which consists of six 45-minute lectures on DVD, divided over two Saturday mornings. The session’s official facilitator is Dr. Joyce Jones, a thin, neatly coiffed, middle-aged woman who is, by day, a professor of psychology at Central Texas College in Killeen. Jones hands us worksheets with fill-in-the-blank and multiple-choice questions to answer while we watch. “In other words, we won’t be just zoning out in front of the TV,” she says.

In the first video, “The Dangers of Democracy,” lecturer Robert Brown, a clean-cut white man in a dark suit, defines democracy as “mob rule,” and emphasizes that the United States is a republic, not a democracy. “It wasn’t what government did that made America great,” Brown says in the recording. “It was what government was prevented from doing that made the difference.”

After the first video lecture ends, Dr. Jones offers a quote from Mao Zedong: “Democracies inevitably lead to collectivism, which leads to socialism, which leads to communism, which leads to totalitarianism.”

Welch, who called democracy a “weapon of demagoguery,” ran the JBS as an autocracy, based on his own opinions about what was best, governing it without the democratic nods found in many other members-based groups, lest it suffer from, as he put it, “infiltration, distortion, or disruption.” Considering how much the JBS has declined since its glory days when Welch governed it by fiat, it’s hard not to read the Birchers’ opinions of democracy as words spoken from experience.

The second video lecture stresses that the federal government has overstepped its constitutional authority and encroached on states’ rights. Most of the attendees, all of whom who are white, nod their heads at the mention of state’s rights. Two hours into the workshop we start the third video, which advocates that the Federal Reserve be abolished and the United States return to the gold standard.

One week later, I returned to Holland for part two. While the lectures from the first weekend explained a political theory that could be boiled down to a few things—government programs and socialism are bad; the free market and Christianity are good—the titles of the second set of lectures suggested a more provocative call to action: “Exposing the Enemies of Freedom” and “Constitutional War Powers and the Enemy Within.”

I picked up the worksheet for this week’s video lessons. A multiple-choice question asks you to identify “the Illuminati.” Is it: (A) a myth, (B) an alien race of shape-shifters, or (C) a group founded in the late 1700s, seeking world government? Correct answer: C.

The accompanying lecture warns about a massive, well-organized conspiracy of elites that is determined to destroy religion, glorify immorality, take children from their parents and give them to the state and ultimately form a one-world government. These global elites, we are told, coalesced in Bavaria in 1776 and call themselves the Illuminati. Though the “Illuminati” conspiracy theory has been, of late, widely known and ridiculed, it’s a longtime Bircher hobbyhorse; the Illuminati, Welch wrote in a 1966 essay, has “grandiose dreams of overthrowing all existing human institutions, and of rising out of the resulting chaos as the all-powerful rulers of a ‘new order’ of civilization.”

After learning about the Illuminati, we are lectured about a much newer, but no less pernicious conspiracy: the Council on Foreign Relations. Founded in 1921, the nonpartisan think tank and publisher’s mission is to advocate globalization and free trade. Board members have included banker David Rockefeller, journalist Tom Brokaw and former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and Colin Powell. For $19.95, you can order a documentary film from the John Birch Society website called “ShadowRing,” which promises to “set the record straight” on the “criminal deeds” of the Council on Foreign Relations. To the Birchers, CFR shares the same goals as the Illuminati: “to destroy the freedom and independence of the United States and lead our nation into a world government,” in the words of John McManus, the John Birch Society’s president emeritus.

And the last, best hope of fighting these nefarious elitist outfits happens to be a group founded by a millionaire at an invitation-only meeting of wealthy industrialists.

***

The John Birch Society isn’t just gaining purchase in the Lone Star state’s tiny backwaters. Texas’s largest cities, Houston and Dallas, are home to active JBS chapters. At 10 minutes past noon on a Thursday in February, about 40 members of the Houston chapter gather at Christine’s Steaks and Seafood in the Bayou City. They have come to the restaurant, which sits next to an eight-lane road lined with shopping centers, to hear a speech from the most famous of the country’s founding fathers.

But George Washington is running late.

Mark Collins, who has a robust career as both a pastor at a Baptist church and an impersonator of America’s first president, had to drive in from Yorktown, Texas, about an hour away. He has portrayed Washington on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives, at former Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Prayer Breakfast, and in the Nicholas Cage movie “National Treasure 2: The Book of Secrets.” When he finally enters the dining room, the 6’4” Collins looks every bit the part, bedecked in yellow breeches, a blue military coat with gold epaulettes and brass buttons the size of half dollars, and a gray revolutionary pigtail. “So happy to be here with you patriots,” he bellows. “The JBS is the tip of the spear.”

Today, Collins is preaching his Americanist gospel to fervent believers in frenetic Houston. The sprawling metropolis, home to the nation’s biggest oil companies, the world’s largest rodeo and former President George H.W. Bush, has exploded from a sleepy mid-sized town to become the nation’s fourth largest city. It’s also among the most ethnically diverse cities in America, though Collins’ audience in the restaurant is entirely white. The pastor stands in front of a banner featuring a bald eagle, a slogan (“Less government, more responsibility, and—with God’s help—a better world.”) and the John Birch Society’s toll-free telephone number, 1-800-JBS-USA1.

“We must teach our children their heritage,” Collins tells the crowd. “We’ve slowly forgotten our principles.” But there is a powerful reason to rejoice, Collins adds, a reason for renewed optimism: God has sent America a new, powerful leader. He’s a good man, a moral man. God has delivered Donald J. Trump to save the United States of America.

The great struggles American patriots face today are not new, Collins shouts. The enthusiastic crowd—people are smiling and clapping—seems to invigorate Collins. He is pacing back and forth, brimming with energy. “And don’t forget this is not the first time the United States has gone to war with Muslims terrorists. In 1801, we waged war against Muslim terrorists in Tripoli.”

Collins is referencing the First Barbary War, which pitted the United States against Algiers, Morocco, Tunis and Tripoli. In 1801, Tripoli seized American merchant vessels and demanded ransom for their return. President Thomas Jefferson refused to pay, and instead sent the Navy. Academic consensus holds that religion had little to do with the war, but Collins’ remark about fighting Muslim terrorists resonates with the crowd, and many in the audience nod their heads as Collins continues.

“And let us not forget in 1774 the government, the British government, tried to ban the original assault rifle … the Brown Bess. That attempt to seize weapons brought about a revolution.” More than a dozen audience members applaud. “Just horrible,” says an elderly woman sitting next to me in a wheelchair.

Collins’ voice grows louder. “Many today don’t realize that we are facing the same gun-control tactics by our own federal government that our forefathers faced from the British,” he says. “Just horrible,” the elderly woman says again.

For 15 minutes, Collins orates on George Washington’s close relationship with Christ. Washington spent the first and last hour of every day in prayer, Collins says. Then, the presidential impersonator lays down a challenge: “Make no mistake, there is a war for the soul of this nation. But with work and sacrifice the United States can be restored as a nation. All it takes is an on-fire minority setting fire in the minds of men.”

***

Chip Berlet, former senior analyst at Political Research Associates in Somerville, Massachusetts, a left-leaning think tank, and co-author of “Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort,” has studied the John Birch Society for three decades.

Berlet tells me the resurgence of the John Birch Society taps into populism which surfaces periodically, especially during times of cultural and demographic upheaval. The nation’s demographic landscape has undergone dramatic shifts since the Birchers’ heyday. From 1955 to 2014, the percentage of U.S. citizens who identified as Protestant sunk from 70 percent to 46 percent, according to polls by Gallup. The percentage of citizens who identified as non-Hispanic white decreased from 89 percent to 63 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. Such changes, mixed with man’s evolutionary tendency toward tribalism, means that many white Christian Americans are full of anxiety.

“The John Birch Society views white Anglo-Saxon Protestant ethnocentrism as the true expression of America,” Berlet says. “They use constitutionalist arguments and conspiracist scapegoating to mask this.”

Placing blame on conspiracies is seductive to social conservatives because of the way their brains are hardwired, says Colin Holbrook, an evolutionary psychologist and research scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles. “It’s not a pathology, nor because they’re less intelligent,” Holbrook tells me.

Holbrook co-authored a 2017 study for the journal Psychological Science, in which subjects were presented with a series of false statements such as, “Terrorist attacks in the U.S. have increased since Sept. 11, 2001,” and “Hotel room keycards are often encoded with personal information that can be read by thieves.”

In Holbrook’s study, social conservatives were more credulous about claims of danger in the world, and the phenomenon has roots in evolutionary psychology—being hyper-aware of threats could potentially save your life. But that evolutionary advantage also makes social conservatives more susceptible to claims about things that could potentially hurt them, according to Holbrook. “That’s what you’re probably seeing with the John Birchers in Texas and the conspiracies they fear,” he says.

After speaking with Holbrook, I thought back to a conversation I had with Jan Carter after the “Constitution is the Solution” workshop in Holland. I told her that it was hard for me to believe that our elected officials are part of a secret conspiracy to form a one-world government, or that they are members of the Illuminati. What about staunchly conservative Texas Republicans, like Gov. Abbott or President George W. Bush?

Carter immediately corrected me. “George W. Bush didn’t have noble intentions. He wanted a one-world government.”

I suggested to Carter that Abbott, at least, seems to genuinely distrust the federal government. He’s a man who, after all, when serving as Texas’ attorney general, sued the Obama administration at least two dozen times. And in April 2015, when some Texans feared that a U.S. military training exercise called “Jade Helm 15” was a covert attempt by the federal government to invade the state, seize Texans’ guns, and imprison conservative citizens in abandoned Wal-Marts, Abbott deployed the Texas State Guard to monitor the U.S. military. It’s tough to imagine a more Bircher-friendly move.

Carter shrugged her shoulders.

“Sometimes politicians do things just for show,” she said.

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Paul Ekman — Telling Lies: Clues To Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics and Marriage –Pamela Meyer — Lie Spotting — Stan B. Walters — The Truth About Lying: How to Spot a Lie and Protect Yourself from Deception –From Lie Spotting To Truth Seeking — Big Lie Media and Lying Lunatic Left Losers — Videos

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#DeepState #Swamp #MSM Push #Bannon #Treason to Ignore #FBI Investigating #ClintonFoundation #Crimes

The Ingraham Angle 1/5/18 With Laura Ingraham – The Ingraham Angle Fox News January 5, 2018

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Clinton Foundation, Hillary emails now under investigation

The Hill: FBI Launches New Clinton Foundation Investigation – Hannity

Congress Exposes TROUBLING New IRREGULARITIES In The Clinton Email Probe

DOJ reportedly reopens Hillary Clinton email investigation

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FBI INVESTIGATING CLINTON FOUNDATION PAY FOR PLAY DONATIONS | JANUARY 5TH, 2018

 

Paul Ekman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Paul Ekman
Paulekman bio.jpg
Born February 15, 1934 (age 83)
Washington, D.C.
Residence United States
Known for MicroexpressionsLie to Me
Spouse(s) Mary Ann Mason, J.D., Ph.D.
Awards Named by the American Psychological Association as one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century based on publications, citations and awards (2001)
Honorary Degree, University of Fernando Pessoa, Portugal (2007)
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, Adelphi University (2008)
Honorary Degree, University of Geneva, Switzerland (2008)
Named of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by Time Magazine (2009)
Honorary Degree, Lund University, Sweden (2011)
Scientific career
Fields Psychology
Anthropology
Doctoral advisor John Amsden Starkweather
Influences Charles DarwinSilvan Tomkins

Paul Ekman (born February 15, 1934) is an American psychologist and professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco who is a pioneer in the study of emotions and their relation to facial expressions. He has created an “atlas of emotions” with more than ten thousand facial expressions, and has gained a reputation as “the best human lie detector in the world”.[1]

He was ranked 59th out of the 100 most cited psychologists of the twentieth century.[2] Ekman conducted seminal research on the specific biological correlations of specific emotions, demonstrating the universality and discreteness of emotions in a Darwinian approach.[3][4]

Biography

External video
 Conversations with History: Paul Ekman on YouTubeUniversity of California Television, 58:00, April 2008

Childhood

Paul Ekman was born to Jewish parents[5] in 1934 in Washington, D.C., and grew up in New JerseyWashingtonOregon, and California. His father was a pediatrician and his mother was an attorney. His sister, Joyce Steingart, is a psychoanalytic psychologist who before her retirement practiced in New York City.[6]

Ekman originally wanted to be a psychotherapist, but when he was drafted into the army in 1958 he found that research could change army routines, making them more humane. This experience converted him from wanting to be a psychotherapist to wanting to be a researcher, in order to help as many people as possible.[7]

Education

At the age of 15, without graduating from high school, Paul Ekman enrolled at the University of Chicago where he completed three years of undergraduate study. During his time in Chicago he was fascinated by group therapysessions and understanding group dynamics. Notably, his classmates at Chicago included writer Susan Sontag, film director Mike Nichols, and actress Elaine May.[8]

He then studied two years at New York University (NYU), earning his BA in 1954.[4] The subject of his first research project, under the direction of his NYU professor, Margaret Tresselt, was an attempt to develop a test of how people would respond to group therapy.[9]

Next, Ekman was accepted into the Adelphi University graduate program for clinical psychology.[9] While working for his master’s degree, Ekman was awarded a predoctoral research fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 1955.[9] His Master’s thesis was focused on facial expression and body movement he had begun to study in 1954.[9] Ekman eventually went on to receive his Ph.D. in clinical psychology at Adelphi University in 1958, after a one-year internship at the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute.[9][10]

Military service

Ekman was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1958 to serve 2 years as soon as his internship at Langley Porter was finished.[9] He served as first lieutenant-chief psychologist, at Fort Dix, New Jersey, where he did research on army stockades and psychological changes during infantry basic training.[9][11][12][13]

Career

Upon completion of military service in 1960, he accepted a position as a research associate with Leonard Krasner at the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital, working on a grant focused on the operant conditioning of verbal behavior in psychiatric patients. Ekman also met anthropologist Gregory Bateson in 1960 who was on the staff of the Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital. Five years later, Gregory Bateson gave Paul Ekman motion picture films taken in Bali in the mid-1930s to help Ekman with cross-cultural studies of expression and gesture.[9]

From 1960 to 1963, Ekman was supported by a post doctoral fellowship from NIMH. He submitted his first research grant through San Francisco State College with himself as the principal investigator (PI) at the young age of 29.[14] He received this grant from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in 1963 to study nonverbal behaviour. This award would be continuously renewed for the next 40 years and would pay his salary until he was offered a professorship at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in 1972.

Encouraged by his college friend and teacher Silvan S. Tomkins, Ekman shifted his focus from body movement to facial expressions. He wrote his most famous book, Telling Lies, and published it in 1985. The 4th edition is still in print. He retired in 2004 as professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). From 1960 to 2004 he also worked at the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute on a limited basis consulting on various clinical cases.

After retiring from the University of California, San Francisco, Paul Ekman founded the Paul Ekman Group (PEG) and Paul Ekman International.[15] The Paul Ekman Group, “develops and offers online emotional skills-building programs such as the Micro Expression Training Tool, offers workshops, supports researchers in our field, and builds online community around these topics.” They do not take individual cases.[16] Also, PEG offers a micro expression and subtle expression training tool for sale on their website.[17]

Media

In 2001, Ekman collaborated with John Cleese for the BBC documentary series The Human Face.[18]

His work is frequently referred to in the TV series Lie to Me.[19] Dr. Lightman is based on Paul Ekman, and Ekman served as a scientific adviser for the series; he read and edited the scripts and sent video clip-notes of facial expressions for the actors to imitate. While Ekman has written 15 books, the series Lie to Me has more effectively brought Ekman’s research into people’s homes.[19] Lie to Me has aired in more than 60 countries.[20]

He has also collaborated with Pixar‘s film director and animator Pete Docter in preparation of his 2015 film Inside Out.[21] Ekman also wrote a parent’s guide to using Inside Out to help parents talk with their children about emotion, which can be found on his personal website http://www.paulekman.com.

Influence

He was named one of the top Time 100 most influential people in the May 11, 2009 edition of Time magazine.[22] He was also ranked fifteenth among the most influential psychologists of the 21st century in 2014 by the journal Archives of Scientific Psychology.[23] He is currently on the Editorial Board of Greater Good magazine, published by the Greater Good Science Center of the University of California, Berkeley. His contributions include the interpretation of scientific research into the roots of compassion, altruism, and peaceful human relationships.[24]

Research work

Measuring nonverbal communication

Ekman’s interest in nonverbal communication led to his first publication in 1957, describing how difficult it was to develop ways of empirically measuring nonverbal behaviour.[25] He chose the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute, the psychiatry department of the University of California Medical School, for his clinical internship partly because Jurgen Ruesch and Weldon Kees had recently published a book called Nonverbal Communication (1956).[9][26][27]

Ekman then focused on developing techniques for measuring nonverbal communication. He found that facial muscular movements that created facial expressions could be reliably identified through empirical research. He also found that human beings are capable of making over 10,000 facial expressions; only 3,000 relevant to emotion.[28] Psychologist Silvan Tomkins convinced Ekman to extend his studies of nonverbal communication from body movement to the face, helping him design his classic cross-cultural emotion recognition studies.[29] Interestingly enough, Tomkins also supervised Carroll Izard at the same time, fostering a similar interest in emotion through cross-cultural research.

Emotions as universal categories

In The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals published in 1872, Charles Darwin theorized that emotions were evolved traits universal to the human species. However, the prevalent belief during the 1950s, particularly among anthropologists, was that facial expressions and their meanings were determined through behavioural learning processes. A prominent advocate of the latter perspective was the anthropologist Margaret Mead who had travelled to different countries examining how cultures communicated using nonverbal behaviour.

Through a series of studies, Ekman found a high agreement across members of diverse Western and Eastern literate cultures on selecting emotional labels that fit facial expressions. Expressions he found to be universal included those indicating wrath, grossness, scaredness, joy, loneliness, and shock. Findings on contempt were less clear, though there is at least some preliminary evidence that this emotion and its expression are universally recognized.[30] Working with his long-time friend Wallace V. Friesen, Ekman demonstrated that the findings extended to preliterate Fore tribesmen in Papua New Guinea, whose members could not have learned the meaning of expressions from exposure to media depictions of emotion.[31] Ekman and Friesen then demonstrated that certain emotions were exhibited with very specific display rules, culture-specific prescriptions about who can show which emotions to whom and when. These display rules could explain how cultural differences may conceal the universal effect of expression.[32]

In the 1990s, Ekman proposed an expanded list of basic emotions, including a range of positive and negative emotions that are not all encoded in facial muscles.[33] The newly included emotions are: AmusementContemptContentmentEmbarrassmentExcitementGuiltPride in achievementReliefSatisfactionSensory pleasure, and Shame.[33]

Visual depictions of facial actions for studying emotion

Ekman’s famous test of emotion recognition was the Pictures of Facial Affect (POFA) stimulus set published in 1976. Consisting of 110 black and white images of Caucasian actors portraying the six universal emotions plus neutral expressions, the POFA has been used to study emotion recognition rates in normal and psychiatric populations around the world. Ekman used these stimuli in his original cross-cultural research. Many researchers favor the POFA because these photographs have been rated by large normative groups in different cultures. In response to critics, however, Ekman eventually released a more culturally diverse set of stimuli called the Japanese and Caucasian Facial Expressions of Emotion (JACFEE).[34]

By 1978, Ekman and Friesen had finalized and developed the Facial Action Coding System (FACS)[35] to taxonomize every human facial expression. FACS is an anatomically based system for describing all observable facial movement for every emotion. Each observable component of facial movement is called an action unit or AU and all facial expressions can be decomposed into their constituent core AUs.[36] An update of this tool came in the early 2000s.

Other tools have been developed, including the MicroExpressions Training Tool (METT), which can help individuals identify more subtle emotional expressions that occur when people try to suppress their emotions. Application of this tool includes helping people with Asperger’s or autism to recognize emotional expressions in their everyday interactions. The Subtle Expression Training Tool (SETT) teaches recognition of very small, micro signs of emotion. These are very tiny expressions, sometimes registering in only part of the face, or when the expression is shown across the entire face, but is very small. Subtle expressions occur for many reasons, for example, the emotion experienced may be very slight or the emotion may be just beginning. METT and SETT have been shown to increase accuracy in evaluating truthfulness.

Detecting deception

Ekman has contributed to the study of social aspects of lying, why we lie,[37] and why we are often unconcerned with detecting lies.[38] He first became interested in detecting lies while completing his clinical work. As detailed in Ekman’s Telling Lies, a patient he was involved in treating denied that she was suicidal in order to leave the hospital. Ekman began to review videotaped interviews to study people’s facial expressions while lying. In a research project along with Maureen O’Sullivan, called the Wizards Project (previously named the Diogenes Project), Ekman reported on facial “microexpressions” which could be used to assist in lie detection. After testing a total of 20,000 people[39] from all walks of life, he found only 50 people who had the ability to spot deception without any formal training. These naturals are also known as “Truth Wizards”, or wizards of deception detection from demeanor.[40]

In his profession, he also uses oral signs of lying. When interviewed about the Monica Lewinsky scandal, he mentioned that he could detect that former President Bill Clinton was lying because he used distancing language.[41]

Contributions to the world’s understanding of emotion

In his 1993 seminal paper in the psychology journal American Psychologist, Ekman describes nine direct contributions that his research on facial expression has made to the understanding of emotion.[42] Highlights include:

  • Consideration of both nature and nurture: Emotion is now viewed as a physiological phenomenon influenced by our cultural and learning experiences.
  • Emotion-specific physiology: Ekman led the way by trying to find discrete psychophysiological differences across emotions. A number of researchers continue to search for emotion-specific autonomic and central nervous system activations. With the advent of neuroimaging techniques, a topic of intense interest revolves around how specific emotions relate to physiological activations in certain brain areas. Ekman laid the groundwork for the future field of affective neuroscience.
  • An examination of events that precede emotions: Ekman’s finding that voluntarily making one of the universal facial expressions can generate the physiology and some of the subjective experience of emotion provided some difficulty for some of the earlier theoretical conceptualizations of experiencing emotions.
  • Considering emotions as families: Ekman & Friesen (1978) found not one expression for each emotion, but a variety of related but visually different expressions. For example, the authors reported 60 variations of the anger expression which share core configurational properties and distinguish themselves clearly from the families of fearful expressions, disgust expressions, and so on. Variations within a family likely reflect the intensity of the emotion, how the emotion is controlled, whether it is simulated or spontaneous, and the specifics of the event that provoked the emotion.

Criticisms

Most credibility-assessment researchers agree that people are unable to visually detect lies.[43] The application of part of Ekman’s work to airport security via the Transportation Security Administration‘s “Screening Passengers by Observation Techniques” (SPOT) program has been criticized for not having been put through controlled scientific tests.[43] A 2007 report on SPOT stated that “simply put, people (including professional lie-catchers with extensive experience of assessing veracity) would achieve similar hit rates if they flipped a coin”.[44] Since controlled scientific tests typically involve people playing the part of terrorists, Ekman says those people are unlikely to have the same emotions as actual terrorists.[43] The methodology used by Ekman and O’Sullivan in their recent work on Truth wizards has also received criticism on the basis of validation.[45]

Other criticisms of Ekman’s work are based on experimental and naturalistic studies by several other emotion psychologists that did not find evidence in support of Ekman’s proposed taxonomy of discrete emotions and discrete facial expression.[46]

Ekman received hostility from some anthropologists at meetings of the American Psychological Association and the American Anthropological Association from 1967 to 1969. He recounted that, as he was reporting his findings on universality of expression, one anthropologist tried to stop him from finishing by shouting that his ideas were fascist. He compares this to another incident when he was accused of being racist by an activist for claiming that Black expressions are not different from White expressions. In 1975, Margaret Mead, an anthropologist, wrote against Ekman for doing “improper anthropology”, and for disagreeing with Ray Birdwhistell‘s claim opposing universality. Ekman wrote that, while many people agreed with Birdwhistell then, most came to accept his own findings over the next decade.[14] However, some anthropologists continued to suggest that emotions are not universal.[47] Ekman argued that there has been no quantitative data to support the claim that emotions are culture specific. In his 1993 discussion of the topic, Ekman states that there is no instance in which 70% or more of one cultural group select one of the six universal emotions while another culture group labels the same expression as another universal emotion.[42]

Ekman criticized the tendency of psychologists to base their conclusions on surveys of college students. Hank Campbell quotes Ekman saying at the Being Human conference, “We basically have a science of undergraduates.”[48]

The pioneer F-M Facial Action Coding System 2.0 (F-M FACS 2.0) [49] was created in 2017 by Dr. Freitas-Magalhães, and presents 2,000 segments in 4K, using 3D technology and automatic and real-time recognition.

Publications

  • Nonverbal messages: Cracking the Code ISBN 978-0-9915636-3-0
  • Emotional Awareness: Overcoming the Obstacles to Psychological Balance and Compassion (Times Books, 2008) ISBN 0-8050-8712-5
  • Unmasking the Face ISBN 1-883536-36-7
  • Emotions Revealed: Recognizing Faces and Feelings to Improve Communication and Emotional Life (Times Books, 2003) ISBN 0-8050-7516-X
  • Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage (W. W. Norton & Company, 1985) ISBN 0-393-32188-6
  • What the Face Reveals (with Rosenberg, E. L., Oxford University Press, 1998) ISBN 0-19-510446-3
  • The Nature of Emotion: Fundamental Questions (with R. Davidson, Oxford University Press, 1994) ISBN 0-19-508944-8
  • Darwin and Facial Expression: A Century of Research in Review ISBN 0-12-236750-2
  • Facial Action Coding System/Investigator’s ISBN 99936-26-61-9
  • Why Kids Lie: How Parents Can Encourage Truthfulness (Penguin, 1991) ISBN 0-14-014322-X
  • Handbook of Methods in Nonverbal Behavior Research ISBN 0-521-28072-9
  • Face of Man ISBN 0-8240-7130-1
  • Emotion in the Human Face ISBN 0-08-016643-1
  • Handbook of Cognition and Emotion (Sussex, UK John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 1999)

See also

References

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

FBI launches new Clinton Foundation investigation

 The Justice Department has launched a new inquiry into whether the Clinton Foundation engaged in any pay-to-play politics or other illegal activities while Hillary Clinton served as secretary of State, law enforcement officials and a witness tells The Hill.

FBI agents from Little Rock, Ark., where the foundation was started, have taken the lead in the investigation and have interviewed at least one witness in the last month, and law enforcement officials said additional activities are expected in the coming weeks.

The officials, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the probe is examining whether the Clintons promised or performed any policy favors in return for largesse to their charitable efforts or whether donors made commitments of donations in hopes of securing government outcomes.

The probe may also examine whether any tax-exempt assets were converted for personal or political use and whether the foundation complied with applicable tax laws, the officials said.One witness recently interviewed by the FBI described the session to The Hill as “extremely professional and unquestionably thorough” and focused on questions about whether donors to Clinton charitable efforts received any favorable treatment from the Obama administration on a policy decision previously highlighted in media reports.

The witness discussed his interview solely on the grounds of anonymity. He said the agents were from Little Rock and their questions focused on government decisions and discussions of donations to Clinton entities during the time Hillary Clinton led President Obama’s State Department.

The FBI office in Little Rock referred a reporter Thursday to Washington headquarters, where officials declined any official comment.

Clinton’s chief spokesman, Nick Merrill, on Friday morning excoriated the FBI for re-opening the case, calling the probe “disgraceful” and suggesting it was nothing more than a political distraction from President Trump‘s Russia controversies.

“Let’s call this what it is: a sham,” Merrill said. “This is a philanthropy that does life-changing work, which Republicans have tried to turn into a political football. It began with a now long-debunked project spearheaded by Steve Bannon during the presidential campaign. It continues with Jeff Sessions doing Trump’s bidding by heeding his calls to meddle with a department that is supposed to function independently.”

Foundation spokesman Craig Minassian took a more muted response, saying the new probe wouldn’t distract the charity from its daily work.
“Time after time, the Clinton Foundation has been subjected to politically motivated allegations, and time after time these allegations have been proven false. None of this has made us waver in our mission to help people,” Minassian said. “The Clinton Foundation has demonstrably improved the lives of millions of people across America and around the world while earning top ratings from charity watchdog groups in the process.”

The Wall Street Journal reported late last year that several FBI field offices, including the one in Little Rock, had been collecting information on the Clinton Foundation for more than a year. The report also said there had been pushback to the FBI from the Justice Department.

A renewed law enforcement focus follows a promise to Congress late last year from top Trump Justice Department officials that law enforcement would revisit some of the investigations and legal issues closed during the Obama years that conservatives felt were given short shrift. It also follows months of relentless criticism on Twitter from President Trump, who has repeatedly questioned why no criminal charges were ever filed against the “crooked” Clintons and their fundraising machine.

For years, news media from The New York Times to The Daily Caller have reported countless stories on donations to the Clinton Foundation or speech fees that closely fell around the time of favorable decisions by Clinton’s State Department. Conservative author Peter Schweizer chronicled the most famous of episodes in his book “Clinton Cash” that gave ammunition to conservatives, including Trump, to beat the drum for a renewed investigation.

Several GOP members of Congress have recently urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to appoint a special counsel to look at the myriad issues surrounding the Clintons. Justice officials sent a letter to Congress in November suggesting some of those issues were being re-examined, but Sessions later testified the appointment of a special prosecutor required a high legal bar that had not yet been met.

His decision was roundly criticized by Republicans, and recent revelations that his statement was watered down by edits and that he made the decision before all witness interviews were finished have led to renewed criticism.

A senior law enforcement official said the Justice Department was exploring whether any issues from that probe should be re-opened but cautioned the effort was not at the stage of a full investigation.

One challenge for any Clinton-era investigation is that the statute of limitations on most federal felonies is five years, and Clinton left office in early 2013.

http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/367541-fbi-launches-new-clinton-foundation-investigation

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Breaking and Developing — Story 1: Rupert Murdoch and Michael Wolff Push President Trump’s Buttons and Trump Reacts As Predicted By Attacking Steven Bannon — White House of Con Games or Junk Journalism or Progressive Propaganda or Tabloid Trash? — Updated — Wolff Taped His Conversations With White House Employees — Trump Tries To Stop Publication of Book with Cease and Desist Letter Making Fire and Fury An Instant Best Seller! — Available Friday at 9 A.M. — Videos — Updated January 4 and 5, 2018

Posted on January 3, 2018. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Books, Business, College, Communications, conservatives, Education, government, government spending, history, Journalism, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Money, Non-Fiction, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Presidential Candidates, Press, Quotations, Rants, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Regulations, Resources, Talk Radio, Taxation, Video, Wealth, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 1: Rupert Murdoch and Michael Wolff Push President Trump’s Buttons and Trump Reacts As Predicted By Attacking Steven Bannon — White House of Con Games or Junk Journalism or Progressive Propaganda or Tabloid Trash? — Updated — Wolff Taped His Conversations With White House Employees — Trump Tries To Stop Publication of Book with Cease and Desist Letter Making Fire and Fury An Instant Best Seller! — Available Friday at 9 A.M. — Videos — Updated January 4 and 5, 2018

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The author of the explosive new Trump book says he can’t be sure if parts of it are true

michael wolffMichael Wolff, the author of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

  • “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” has set the political world ablaze.
  • It contains vivid, detailed, and embarrassing accounts of President Donald Trump and those around him.
  • But the book’s author, Michael Wolff, says he can’t be sure that all of it is true.

The author of the explosive new book about Donald Trump’s presidency acknowledged in an author’s note that he wasn’t certain all of its content was true.

Michael Wolff, the author of “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” included a note at the start that casts significant doubt on the reliability of the specifics contained in the rest of its pages.

Several of his sources, he says, were definitely lying to him, while some offered accounts that flatly contradicted those of others.

But some were nonetheless included in the vivid account of the West Wing’s workings, in a process Wolff describes as “allowing the reader to judge” whether the sources’ claims are true.

Donald Trump January 4 2018

Donald Trump, seen at a meeting in the White House the day after elements of Wolff’s book began to be reported. AP

In other cases, the media columnist said, he did use his journalistic judgment and research to arrive at what he describes “a version of events I believe to be true.”

Here is the relevant part of the note, from the 10th page of the book’s prologue:

“Many of the accounts of what has happened in the Trump White House are in conflict with one another; many, in Trumpian fashion, are baldly untrue. These conflicts, and that looseness with the truth, if not with reality itself, are an elemental thread of the book.

“Sometimes I have let the players offer their versions, in turn allowing the reader to judge them. In other instances I have, through a consistency in the accounts and through sources I have come to trust, settled on a version of events I believe to be true.”

The book itself, reviewed by Business Insider from a copy acquired prior to its Friday publication, is not always clear about what level of confidence the author has in any particular assertion.

Lengthy, private conversations are reported verbatim, as are difficult-to-ascertain details like what somebody was thinking or how the person felt.

Wolff attributes his book to “more than two hundred interviews” with people including Trump and “most members of his senior staff.” According to the news website Axios, Wolff has dozens of hours of tapes to back up what he said.

Claims contained in the book have been widely reported by the media in the US and further afield.

They include assertions that Trump never wanted to be president, that all of his senior staff considered him an idiot, that he tried to lock the Secret Service out of his room, and that he ate at McDonald’s to avoid being poisoned.

Business Insider rounded up some more of the most eye-catching claims in this article.

Trump, who sought to block publication of the book but was too late, tweeted Thursday that it was “full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist.”

I authorized Zero access to White House (actually turned him down many times) for author of phony book! I never spoke to him for book. Full of lies, misrepresentations and sources that don’t exist. Look at this guy’s past and watch what happens to him and Sloppy Steve!

The White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, described the book as “complete fantasy.”

Asked to rebut specific points, she said: “I’m not going to waste my time or the country’s time going page by page and talking about a book that is complete fantasy and just full of tabloid gossip.”

Other people mentioned in the book have also disputed claims made about them.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who the book said warned Trump that he may be under surveillance from British spies, issued a statement describing the claim as “categorically absurd” and “simply untrue.”

Anna Wintour, the longtime Vogue editor, also dismissed the claim that she lobbied Trump to be his ambassador to the UK as “laughably preposterous.”

Other journalists have also urged caution. Some cited Wolff’s track record — questions were raised about his 2008 book on Rupert Murdoch — and others compared his claims with their own knowledge of the Trump White House.

On Friday morning, Wolff responded to claims about the accuracy of his book in an interivew with NBC’s “Today” show.

Host Savannah Guthrie asked him: “You stand by everything in the book? Nothing made up?”

He responded: “Absolutely everything in the book.”

Shortly after, he expanded, saying: “I am certainly and absolutely, in every way, comfortable with everything I’ve reported in this book.”

This isn’t necessarily at odds with what he said in the author’s note, as it allows for the possibility that he was told something untrue and repeated it without realising, or reached a wrong conclusion when presenting a version of contested events.

http://www.businessinsider.com/michael-wolff-note-says-he-doesnt-know-if-trump-book-is-all-true-2018-1

Trump legal team blasts explosive Michael Wolff book in cease-and-desist letter

President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Charles Harder, has demanded on behalf of his client that author Michael Wolff and his publisher immediately “cease and desist from any further publication, release or dissemination” of a forthcoming book, “Fire and Fury, according to a letter obtained by ABC News.

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The book is scheduled to be released next week but excerpts have caused a stir.

“We are investigating numerous false and/or baseless statements that you have made about Mr. Trump,” the lawyer wrote to Wolff.

The letter goes on to say they are looking into possible defamation of Trump and his family and invasion of privacy.

The lengthy letter to Wolff and Henry Holt and Co. Inc. goes on to accuse the author of actual malice.

PHOTO: Senior Advisor Jared Kusher, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump arrive at the start of a meeting, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in this file photo, Feb. 2, 2017, in Washington. Drew Angerer/Getty Images, FILE
Senior Advisor Jared Kusher, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and President Donald Trump arrive at the start of a meeting, in the Roosevelt Room at the White House in this file photo, Feb. 2, 2017, in Washington.more +

It states, “Actual malice (reckless disregard for the truth) can be proven by the fact that the Book admits in the Introduction that it contains untrue statements. Moreover, the Book appears to cite to no sources for many of its most damaging statements about Mr. Trump. Also, many of your so-called ‘sources’ have stated publicly that they never spoke to Mr. Wolff and/or never made the statements that are being attributed to them. Other alleged ‘sources’ of statements about Mr. Trump are believed to have no personal knowledge of the facts upon which they are making statements or are known to be unreliable and/or strongly biased against Mr. Trump.”

Harder sent a similar letter to former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon Wednesday night demanding he cease and desist from making allegedly false statements against the president and his family.

Bannon has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

Henry Holt and Company the publisher of “Fire and Fury” told ABC News on Thursday, “We can confirm we received the Cease and Desist letter.”

Earlier Wednesday, Trump hit back at Bannon in scathing comments, saying that when Bannon was fired “he not only lost his job, he lost his mind.”

PHOTO: President Donald Trump delivers remarks on Americas military involvement in Afghanistan at the Fort Myer military base, Aug. 21, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia.Mark Wilson/Getty Images
President Donald Trump delivers remarks on America’s military involvement in Afghanistan at the Fort Myer military base, Aug. 21, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia.more +

President Trump’s comments, which came in the form of a written statement from the White House, were in response to Bannon’s strident criticism of Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushnerand Paul Manafort for sitting down with a group of Russians who promised damaging information against Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election in excerpts from Wolff’s new book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House”.

“Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my Presidency. When he was fired, he not only lost his job, he lost his mind. Steve was a staffer who worked for me after I had already won the nomination by defeating seventeen candidates, often described as the most talented field ever assembled in the Republican party,” the president said in a statement. “Now that he is on his own, Steve is learning that winning isn’t as easy as I make it look. Steve had very little to do with our historic victory, which was delivered by the forgotten men and women of this country. Yet Steve had everything to do with the loss of a Senate seat in Alabama held for more than thirty years by Republicans. Steve doesn’t represent my base — he’s only in it for himself.”

Scoop: Wolff taped interviews with Bannon, top officials

  • Mike Allen

Michael Wolff interviews Kellyanne Conway at the Newseum in April. (AP’s Carolyn Kaster)

Michael Wolff has tapes to back up quotes in his incendiary book — dozens of hours of them.

Among the sources he taped, I’m told, are Steve Bannon and former White House deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh.

  • So that’s going to make it harder for officials to deny embarrassing or revealing quotes attributed to them in “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House,” out Tuesday.
  • In some cases, the officials thought they were talking off the record. But what are they going to do now?
  • Although the White House yesterday portrayed Wolff as a poseur, he spent hours at a time in private areas of the West Wing, including the office of Reince Priebus when he was chief of staff.
  • The White House says Wolff was cleared for access to the West Wing fewer than 20 times.
  • Wolff, a New Yorker, stayed at the Hay Adams Hotel when he came down to D.C., and White House sources frequently crossed Lafayette Park to meet him there.

Part of Wolff’s lengthy index entry for Bannon:

Some reporters and officials are calling the book sloppy, and challenging specific passages.

  • How could Wolff possibly know for sure what Steve Bannon and the late Roger Ailes said at a private dinner?
  • It turns out Wolff hosted the dinner for six at his Manhattan townhouse.

Get more stories like this by signing up for our daily morning newsletter, Axios AM.

https://www.axios.com/how-michael-wolff-did-it-2522360813.html

“You Can’t Make This S— Up”: My Year Inside Trump’s Insane White House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author and columnist Michael Wolff was given extraordinary access to the Trump administration and now details the feuds, the fights and the alarming chaos he witnessed while reporting what turned into a new book.

Editor’s Note: Author and Hollywood Reporter columnist Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (Henry Holt & Co.), is a detailed account of the 45th president’s election and first year in office based on extensive access to the White House and more than 200 interviews with Trump and senior staff over a period of 18 months. In advance of the Jan. 9 publication of the book, which Trump is already attacking, Wolff has written this extracted column about his time in the White House based on the reporting included in Fire and Fury.

interviewed Donald Trump for The Hollywood Reporter in June 2016, and he seemed to have liked — or not disliked — the piece I wrote. “Great cover!” his press assistant, Hope Hicks, emailed me after it came out (it was a picture of a belligerent Trump in mirrored sunglasses). After the election, I proposed to him that I come to the White House and report an inside story for later publication — journalistically, as a fly on the wall — which he seemed to misconstrue as a request for a job. No, I said. I’d like to just watch and write a book. “A book?” he responded, losing interest. “I hear a lot of people want to write books,” he added, clearly not understanding why anybody would. “Do you know Ed Klein?”— author of several virulently anti-Hillary books. “Great guy. I think he should write a book about me.” But sure, Trump seemed to say, knock yourself out.

Since the new White House was often uncertain about what the president meant or did not mean in any given utterance, his non-disapproval became a kind of passport for me to hang around — checking in each week at the Hay-Adams hotel, making appointments with various senior staffers who put my name in the “system,” and then wandering across the street to the White House and plunking myself down, day after day, on a West Wing couch.

The West Wing is configured in such a way that the anteroom is quite a thoroughfare — everybody passes by. Assistants — young women in the Trump uniform of short skirts, high boots, long and loose hair — as well as, in situation-comedy proximity, all the new stars of the show: Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Jared Kushner, Mike Pence, Gary Cohn, Michael Flynn (and after Flynn’s abrupt departure less than a month into the job for his involvement in the Russia affair, his replacement, H.R. McMaster), all neatly accessible.

The nature of the comedy, it was soon clear, was that here was a group of ambitious men and women who had reached the pinnacle of power, a high-ranking White House appointment — with the punchline that Donald Trump was president. Their estimable accomplishment of getting to the West Wing risked at any moment becoming farce.

A new president typically surrounds himself with a small group of committed insiders and loyalists. But few on the Trump team knew him very well — most of his advisors had been with him only since the fall. Even his family, now closely gathered around him, seemed nonplussed. “You know, we never saw that much of him until he got the nomination,” Eric Trump’s wife, Lara, told one senior staffer. If much of the country was incredulous, his staff, trying to cement their poker faces, were at least as confused.

Their initial response was to hawkishly defend him — he demanded it — and by defending him they seemed to be defending themselves. Politics is a game, of course, of determined role-playing, but the difficulties of staying in character in the Trump White House became evident almost from the first day.

“You can’t make this shit up,” Sean Spicer, soon to be portrayed as the most hapless man in America, muttered to himself after his tortured press briefing on the first day of the new administration, when he was called to justify the president’s inaugural crowd numbers — and soon enough, he adopted this as a personal mantra. Reince Priebus, the new chief of staff, had, shortly after the announcement of his appointment in November, started to think he would not last until the inauguration. Then, making it to the White House, he hoped he could last a respectable year, but he quickly scaled back his goal to six months. Kellyanne Conway, who would put a finger-gun to her head in private about Trump’s public comments, continued to mount an implacable defense on cable television, until she was pulled off the air by others in the White House who, however much the president enjoyed her, found her militancy idiotic. (Even Ivanka and Jared regarded Conway’s fulsome defenses as cringeworthy.)

Steve Bannon tried to gamely suggest that Trump was mere front man and that he, with plan and purpose and intellect, was, more reasonably, running the show — commanding a whiteboard of policies and initiatives that he claimed to have assembled from Trump’s off-the-cuff ramblings and utterances. His adoption of the Saturday Night Live sobriquet “President Bannon” was less than entirely humorous. Within the first few weeks, even rote conversations with senior staff trying to explain the new White House’s policies and positions would turn into a body-language ballet of eye-rolling and shrugs and pantomime of jaws dropping. Leaking became the political manifestation of the don’t-blame-me eye roll.

The surreal sense of the Trump presidency was being lived as intensely inside the White House as out. Trump was, for the people closest to him, the ultimate enigma. He had been elected president, that through-the-eye-of-the-needle feat, but obviously, he was yet … Trump. Indeed, he seemed as confused as anyone to find himself in the White House, even attempting to barricade himself into his bedroom with his own lock over the protests of the Secret Service.

There was some effort to ascribe to Trump magical powers. In an early conversation — half comic, half desperate — Bannon tried to explain him as having a particular kind of Jungian brilliance. Trump, obviously without having read Jung, somehow had access to the collective unconscious of the other half of the country, and, too, a gift for inventing archetypes: Little Marco … Low-Energy Jeb … the Failing New York Times. Everybody in the West Wing tried, with some panic, to explain him, and, sheepishly, their own reason for being here. He’s intuitive, he gets it, he has a mind-meld with his base. But there was palpable relief, of an Emperor’s New Clothes sort, when longtime Trump staffer Sam Nunberg — fired by Trump during the campaign but credited with knowing him better than anyone else — came back into the fold and said, widely, “He’s just a fucking fool.”

Part of that foolishness was his inability to deal with his own family. In a way, this gave him a human dimension. Even Donald Trump couldn’t say no to his kids. “It’s a littleee, littleee complicated …” he explained to Priebus about why he needed to give his daughter and son-in-law official jobs. But the effect of their leadership roles was to compound his own boundless inexperience in Washington, creating from the outset frustration and then disbelief and then rage on the part of the professionals in his employ.

The men and women of the West Wing, for all that the media was ridiculing them, actually felt they had a responsibility to the country. “Trump,” said one senior Republican, “turned selfish careerists into patriots.” Their job was to maintain the pretense of relative sanity, even as each individually came to the conclusion that, in generous terms, it was insane to think you could run a White House without experience, organizational structure or a real purpose.

White House: Trump Doesn’t Want Michael Wolff’s Book Published

On March 30, after the collapse of the health care bill, 32-year-old Katie Walsh, the deputy chief of staff, the effective administration chief of the West Wing, a stalwart political pro and stellar example of governing craft, walked out. Little more than two months in, she quit. Couldn’t take it anymore. Nutso. To lose your deputy chief of staff at the get-go would be a sign of crisis in any other administration, but inside an obviously exploding one it was hardly noticed.

While there might be a scary national movement of Trumpers, the reality in the White House was stranger still: There was Jared and Ivanka, Democrats; there was Priebus, a mainstream Republican; and there was Bannon, whose reasonable claim to be the one person actually representing Trumpism so infuriated Trump that Bannon was hopelessly sidelined by April. “How much influence do you think Steve Bannon has over me? Zero! Zero!” Trump muttered and stormed. To say that no one was in charge, that there were no guiding principles, not even a working org chart, would again be an understatement. “What do these people do?” asked everyone pretty much of everyone else.

The competition to take charge, which, because each side represented an inimical position to the other, became not so much a struggle for leadership, but a near-violent factional war. Jared and Ivanka were against Priebus and Bannon, trying to push both men out. Bannon was against Jared and Ivanka and Priebus, practicing what everybody thought were dark arts against them. Priebus, everybody’s punching bag, just tried to survive another day. By late spring, the larger political landscape seemed to become almost irrelevant, with everyone focused on the more lethal battles within the White House itself. This included screaming fights in the halls and in front of a bemused Trump in the Oval Office (when he was not the one screaming himself), together with leaks about what Russians your opponents might have been talking to.

Reigning over all of this was Trump, enigma, cipher and disruptor. How to get along with Trump — who veered between a kind of blissed-out pleasure of being in the Oval Office and a deep, childish frustration that he couldn’t have what he wanted? Here was a man singularly focused on his own needs for instant gratification, be that a hamburger, a segment on Fox & Friends or an Oval Office photo opp. “I want a win. I want a win. Where’s my win?” he would regularly declaim. He was, in words used by almost every member of the senior staff on repeated occasions, “like a child.” A chronic naysayer, Trump himself stoked constant discord with his daily after-dinner phone calls to his billionaire friends about the disloyalty and incompetence around him. His billionaire friends then shared this with their billionaire friends, creating the endless leaks which the president so furiously railed against.

Read Donald Trump’s Full Legal Demand Over Michael Wolff’s Book

One of these frequent callers was Rupert Murdoch, who before the election had only ever expressed contempt for Trump. Now Murdoch constantly sought him out, but to his own colleagues, friends and family, continued to derisively ridicule Trump: “What a fucking moron,” said Murdoch after one call.

With the Comey firing, the Mueller appointment and murderous White House infighting, by early summer Bannon was engaged in an uninterrupted monologue directed to almost anyone who would listen. It was so caustic, so scabrous and so hilarious that it might form one of the great underground political treatises.

By July, Jared and Ivanka, who had, in less than six months, traversed from socialite couple to royal family to the most powerful people in the world, were now engaged in a desperate dance to save themselves, which mostly involved blaming Trump himself. It was all his idea to fire Comey! “The daughter,” Bannon declared, “will bring down the father.”

Priebus and Spicer were merely counting down to the day — and every day seemed to promise it would be the next day — when they would be out.

And, indeed, suddenly there were the 11 days of Anthony Scaramucci.

Scaramucci, a minor figure in the New York financial world, and quite a ridiculous one, had overnight become Jared and Ivanka’s solution to all of the White House’s management and messaging problems. After all, explained the couple, he was good on television and he was from New York — he knew their world. In effect, the couple had hired Scaramucci — as preposterous a hire in West Wing annals as any — to replace Priebus and Bannon and take over running the White House.

There was, after the abrupt Scaramucci meltdown, hardly any effort inside the West Wing to disguise the sense of ludicrousness and anger felt by every member of the senior staff toward Trump’s family and Trump himself. It became almost a kind of competition to demystify Trump. For Rex Tillerson, he was a moron. For Gary Cohn, he was dumb as shit. For H.R. McMaster, he was a hopeless idiot. For Steve Bannon, he had lost his mind.

Most succinctly, no one expected him to survive Mueller. Whatever the substance of the Russia “collusion,” Trump, in the estimation of his senior staff, did not have the discipline to navigate a tough investigation, nor the credibility to attract the caliber of lawyers he would need to help him. (At least nine major law firms had turned down an invitation to represent the president.)

There was more: Everybody was painfully aware of the increasing pace of his repetitions. It used to be inside of 30 minutes he’d repeat, word-for-word and expression-for-expression, the same three stories — now it was within 10 minutes. Indeed, many of his tweets were the product of his repetitions — he just couldn’t stop saying something.

By summer’s end, in something of a historic sweep — more usual for the end of a president’s first term than the end of his first six months — almost the entire senior staff, save Trump’s family, had been washed out: Michael Flynn, Katie Walsh, Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, Steve Bannon. Even Trump’s loyal, longtime body guard Keith Schiller — for reasons darkly whispered about in the West Wing — was out. Gary Cohn, Dina Powell, Rick Dearborn, all on their way out. The president, on the spur of the moment, appointed John Kelly, a former Marine Corps general and head of homeland security, chief of staff — without Kelly having been informed of his own appointment beforehand. Grim and stoic, accepting that he could not control the president, Kelly seemed compelled by a sense of duty to be, in case of disaster, the adult in the room who might, if needed, stand up to the president … if that is comfort.

As telling, with his daughter and son-in-law sidelined by their legal problems, Hope Hicks, Trump’s 29-year-old personal aide and confidant, became, practically speaking, his most powerful White House advisor. (With Melania a nonpresence, the staff referred to Ivanka as the “real wife” and Hicks as the “real daughter.”) Hicks’ primary function was to tend to the Trump ego, to reassure him, to protect him, to buffer him, to soothe him. It was Hicks who, attentive to his lapses and repetitions, urged him to forgo an interview that was set to open the 60 Minutes fall season. Instead, the interview went to Fox News’ Sean Hannity who, White House insiders happily explained, was willing to supply the questions beforehand. Indeed, the plan was to have all interviewers going forward provide the questions.

As the first year wound down, Trump finally got a bill to sign. The tax bill, his singular accomplishment, was, arguably, quite a reversal of his populist promises, and confirmation of what Mitch McConnell had seen early on as the silver Trump lining: “He’ll sign anything we put in front of him.” With new bravado, he was encouraging partisans like Fox News to pursue an anti-Mueller campaign on his behalf. Insiders believed that the only thing saving Mueller from being fired, and the government of the United States from unfathomable implosion, is Trump’s inability to grasp how much Mueller had on him and his family.

Steve Bannon was openly handicapping a 33.3 percent chance of impeachment, a 33.3 percent chance of resignation in the shadow of the 25th amendment and a 33.3 percent chance that he might limp to the finish line on the strength of liberal arrogance and weakness.

Donald Trump’s small staff of factotums, advisors and family began, on Jan. 20, 2017, an experience that none of them, by any right or logic, thought they would — or, in many cases, should — have, being part of a Trump presidency. Hoping for the best, with their personal futures as well as the country’s future depending on it, my indelible impression of talking to them and observing them through much of the first year of his presidency, is that they all — 100 percent — came to believe he was incapable of functioning in his job.

At Mar-a-Lago, just before the new year, a heavily made-up Trump failed to recognize a succession of old friends.

Happy first anniversary of the Trump administration.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/michael-wolff-my-insane-year-inside-trumps-white-house-1071504

Remember Who Michael Wolff Is

A March Madness-style bracket to find the most loathed man in media might include Rupert Murdoch biographer, movie theater scofflaw, and resident killjoy Michael Wolff as its No. 1 overall seed. The ornery press critic is, as Fox News’ Howard Kurtz once said with understatement, “rarely impressed by anyone other than himself.” And immediate reactions to the rollout of a new, likely overwritten book about the first year in Donald Trump’s White House are likely already feeding Wolff’s Vanity Fair-sized ego.

The PR tour for Wolff’s book, out Jan. 9, began in earnest on Wednesday. The Guardian, which got a copy “ahead of publication from a bookseller in New England,” wrote up Steve Bannon’s reaction to a Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a group of Russians in 2016 contained in the book: “treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit.” Hours later, New York magazine reportedly pushed up its pre-planned publication of an excerpt that would be widely shared by political media types for its intimate retellings of Donald Trump’s cluelessness during the transition—Who’s John Boehner?—his apparent inability to make it to the Fourth Amendment during a lesson about the Constitution, and his reprimanding the White House’s housekeeping staff for picking his shirts up off the floor apparently against his wishes.

“Few people who knew Trump had illusions about him,” Wolff breathlessly writes. “That was his appeal: He was what he was. Twinkle in his eye, larceny in his soul.”

It’s hard to imagine what exactly that means. But it sounds fun and breezy while appearing to take no prisoners—classic Wolff fare. The published selections portray Trump as stupid and vindictive, his aides as basically good-faith underlings struggling to manage a walking, talking national security threat. And New York included a lengthy editor’s note on how The Hollywood Reporter contributing editor landed such fly-on-the-wall accounts, which included extensive direct quotations:

Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Wolff says, he was able to take up “something like a semi-permanent seat on a couch in the West Wing”—an idea encouraged by the president himself. Because no one was in a position to either officially approve or formally deny such access, Wolff became “more a constant interloper than an invited guest.” There were no ground rules placed on his access, and he was required to make no promises about how he would report on what he witnessed.

Since then, he conducted more than 200 interviews. In true Trumpian fashion, the administration’s lack of experience and disdain for political norms made for a hodgepodge of journalistic challenges. Information would be provided off-the-record or on deep background, then casually put on the record. Sources would fail to set any parameters on the use of a conversation, or would provide accounts in confidence, only to subsequently share their views widely. And the president’s own views, private as well as public, were constantly shared by others.

These are the type of lax ground rules that allow writers plenty of wiggle room—the type of which Wolff has long been known to take full advantage, at times with questionably accurate results. The difference is that the people in Trump’s orbit are likely even less reliable sources than many of his past subjects.

Wolff’s 1998 book about pursuing digital riches, Burn Rate, was met by largely positive reviews in the midst of the dot-com bubble. But longtime press critic Jack Shafer—perhaps as close to a defender as Wolff has—also wondered in his take for Slate whether Wolff’s nitty-gritty details could be trusted:

Wolff exploits the human tendency to confuse frankness and cruelty with truth-telling. And by repeatedly reminding the reader of what a dishonest, scheming little shit he is, he seeks to inflate his credibility. A real liar wouldn’t tell you that he’s a liar as Wolff does, would he? The wealth of verbatim quotations—constituting a good third of this book—also enhances Burn Rate’s verisimilitude. But should it? Wolff writes that he jotted down bits of dialogue on his legal pads during meetings while others composed to-do lists. Not to accuse anyone of Stephen Glassism, but I’d love to see Wolff post those copious notes on his promotional Web site, www.burnrate.com.

Michelle Cottle made similar observations in a 2004 profile for the New Republic, published when Wolff was a media writer at Vanity Fair, tut-tutting him as “neither as insightful nor as entertaining when dissecting politics.” She continued:

Much to the annoyance of Wolff’s critics, the scenes in his columns aren’t recreated so much as created—springing from Wolff’s imagination rather than from actual knowledge of events. Even Wolff acknowledges that conventional reporting isn’t his bag. Rather, he absorbs the atmosphere and gossip swirling around him at cocktail parties, on the street, and especially during those long lunches at Michael’s….“His great gift is the appearance of intimate access,” says an editor who has worked with Wolff. “He is adroit at making the reader think that he has spent hours and days with his subject, when in fact he may have spent no time at all.”

Even the late David Carr, would-be reverend of the media class from his New York Times pulpit, wrote that “Wolff has never distinguished himself as a reporter” when reviewing his 2008 Murdoch biography, The Man Who Owns The News. “Over the years, Carr wrote, “he has succeeded in cutting through the clutter by being far less circumspect—and sometimes more vicious—than other journalists, whom he views as archaic losers about to go the way of the Walkman.” Factual errors be damned, Carr added with a begrudging thumbs-up, for “Wolff prefers the purity of his constructs.”

That approach would seem to be even more dangerous with a book sold as an “inside story” of a White House that has proven atrocious at narrating its own story with any grasp of the truth. Since the selections of Wolff’s book have dropped, administration officials trotted out the usual cries of false anecdotes and fake sources—usually a good sign for those in search of the facts. But journalists have already started poking holes in some of the juicier aspects of Wolff’s account. Just one example: a simple Google search proves Trump has previously spoken about Boehner at length, making the notion that he would respond “Who?” to a mention of the former House Speaker feel dubious at best. But such details are what gets shared or aggregated, often uncritically.

None of that is to say that Fire and Fury won’t be an entertaining read. Wolff has been a frequent critic of the media’s Trump coverage, lambasting the press earlier this year for portraying Trump as “an inept and craven sociopath.” He’s also spoken in favor of journalists acting only as stenographers. Those may have been sly plays to get greater access to the Trump Administration before biting its hand en route to a bestseller.

But if these early excerpts are any indication, Wolff’s turn at stenography led to the same basic observations as everybody else—that the administration is chock full of back-stabbing, out-of-their-depth staffers washed up from a campaign that no one, even the man who’s now president, expected to win. The fact that the internet has latched onto so many of these colorful—if only “notionally accurate,” anecdotes—may say less about Wolff, that much-hated media man, than it does about the rest of us.

https://splinternews.com/remember-who-michael-wolff-is-1821749209

Trump Tower meeting with Russians ‘treasonous’, Bannon says in explosive book

 Steve Bannon exits an elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower on 11 November 2016 in New York City.
 Steve Bannon exits an elevator in the lobby of Trump Tower on 11 November 2016 in New York City. Other Trump campaign officials met with Russians there in June 2016. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Bannon, speaking to author Michael Wolff, warned that the investigation into alleged collusion with the Kremlin will focus on money laundering and predicted: “They’re going to crack Don Junior like an egg on national TV.”

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, reportedly based on more than 200 interviews with the president, his inner circle and players in and around the administration, is one of the most eagerly awaited political books of the year. In it, Wolff lifts the lid on a White House lurching from crisis to crisis amid internecine warfare, with even some of Trump’s closest allies expressing contempt for him.

Bannon, who was chief executive of the Trump campaign in its final three months, then White House chief strategist for seven months before returning to the rightwing Breitbart News, is a central figure in the nasty, cutthroat drama, quoted extensively, often in salty language.

He is particularly scathing about a June 2016 meeting involving Trump’s son Donald Jr, son-in-law Jared Kushner, then campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya at Trump Tower in New York. A trusted intermediary had promised documents that would “incriminate” rival Hillary Clinton but instead of alerting the FBI to a potential assault on American democracy by a foreign power, Trump Jr replied in an email: “I love it.”

The meeting was revealed by the New York Times in July last year, prompting Trump Jr to say no consequential material was produced. Soon after, Wolff writes, Bannon remarked mockingly: “The three senior guys in the campaign thought it was a good idea to meet with a foreign government inside Trump Tower in the conference room on the 25th floor – with no lawyers. They didn’t have any lawyers.

“Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad shit, and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.”

Bannon went on, Wolff writes, to say that if any such meeting had to take place, it should have been set up “in a Holiday Inn in Manchester, New Hampshire, with your lawyers who meet with these people”. Any information, he said, could then be “dump[ed] … down to Breitbart or something like that, or maybe some other more legitimate publication”.

Bannon added: “You never see it, you never know it, because you don’t need to … But that’s the brain trust that they had.”

Bannon also speculated that Trump Jr had involved his father in the meeting. “The chance that Don Jr did not walk these jumos up to his father’s office on the twenty-sixth floor is zero.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed last May, following Trump’s dismissal of FBI director James Comey, to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election. This has led to the indictments of four members of Trump’s inner circle, including Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges; Flynn has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. In recent weeks Bannon’s Breitbart News and other conservative outlets have accused Mueller’s team of bias against the president.

Trump predicted in an interview with the New York Times last week that the special counsel was “going to be fair”, though he also said the investigation “makes the country look very bad”. The president and his allies deny any collusion with Russia and the Kremlin has denied interfering.

“You realise where this is going,” he is quoted as saying. “This is all about money laundering. Mueller chose [senior prosecutor Andrew] Weissmannfirst and he is a money-laundering guy. Their path to fucking Trump goes right through Paul Manafort, Don Jr and Jared Kushner … It’s as plain as a hair on your face.”

Last month it was reported that federal prosecutors had subpoenaed records from Deutsche Bank, the German financial institution that has lent hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kushner property empire. Bannon continues: “It goes through Deutsche Bank and all the Kushner shit. The Kushner shit is greasy. They’re going to go right through that. They’re going to roll those two guys up and say play me or trade me.”

Scorning apparent White House insouciance, Bannon reaches for a hurricane metaphor: “They’re sitting on a beach trying to stop a Category Five.”

He insists that he knows no Russians, will not be a witness, will not hire a lawyer and will not appear on national television answering questions.

Fire and Fury will be published next week. Wolff is a prominent media critic and columnist who has written for the Guardian and is a biographer of Rupert Murdoch. He previously conducted interviews for the Hollywood Reporter with Trump in June 2016 and Bannon a few months later.

He told the Guardian in November that to research the book, he showed up at the White House with no agenda but wanting to “find out what the insiders were really thinking and feeling”. He enjoyed extraordinary access to Trump and senior officials and advisers, he said, sometimes at critical moments of the fledgling presidency.

The rancour between Bannon and “Javanka” – Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump – is a recurring theme of the book. Kushner and Ivanka are Jewish. Henry Kissinger, the former secretary of state, is quoted as saying: “It is a war between the Jews and the non-Jews.”

Trump is not spared. Wolff writes that Thomas Barrack Jr, a billionaire who is one of the president’s oldest associates, allegedly told a friend: “He’s not only crazy, he’s stupid.” Barrack denied that to the New York Times.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/03/donald-trump-russia-steve-bannon-michael-wolff

Donald Trump Didn’t Want to Be President

One year ago: the plan to lose, and the administration’s shocked first days.

n the afternoon of November 8, 2016, Kellyanne Conway settled into her glass office at Trump Tower. Right up until the last weeks of the race, the campaign headquarters had remained a listless place. All that seemed to distinguish it from a corporate back office were a few posters with right-wing slogans.

Conway, the campaign’s manager, was in a remarkably buoyant mood, considering she was about to experience a resounding, if not cataclysmic, defeat. Donald Trump would lose the election — of this she was sure — but he would quite possibly hold the defeat to under six points. That was a substantial victory. As for the looming defeat itself, she shrugged it off: It was Reince Priebus’s fault, not hers.

She had spent a good part of the day calling friends and allies in the political world and blaming Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Now she briefed some of the television producers and anchors whom she had been carefully courting since joining the Trump campaign — and with whom she had been actively interviewing in the last few weeks, hoping to land a permanent on-air job after the election.

Even though the numbers in a few key states had appeared to be changing to Trump’s advantage, neither Conway nor Trump himself nor his son-in-law, Jared Kushner — the effective head of the campaign — ­wavered in their certainty: Their unexpected adventure would soon be over. Not only would Trump not be president, almost everyone in the campaign agreed, he should probably not be. Conveniently, the former conviction meant nobody had to deal with the latter issue.

As the campaign came to an end, Trump himself was sanguine. His ultimate goal, after all, had never been to win. “I can be the most famous man in the world,” he had told his aide Sam Nunberg at the outset of the race. His longtime friend Roger Ailes, the former head of Fox News, liked to say that if you want a career in television, first run for president. Now Trump, encouraged by Ailes, was floating rumors about a Trump network. It was a great future. He would come out of this campaign, Trump assured Ailes, with a far more powerful brand and untold opportunities.

“This is bigger than I ever dreamed of,” he told Ailes a week before the election. “I don’t think about losing, because it isn’t losing. We’ve totally won.”

From the start, the leitmotif for Trump about his own campaign was how crappy it was, and how everybody involved in it was a loser. In August, when he was trailing Hillary Clinton by more than 12 points, he couldn’t conjure even a far-fetched scenario for achieving an electoral victory. He was baffled when the right-wing billionaire Robert Mercer, a Ted Cruz backer whom Trump barely knew, offered him an infusion of $5 million. When Mercer and his daughter Rebekah presented their plan to take over the campaign and install their lieutenants, Steve Bannon and Conway, Trump didn’t resist. He only expressed vast incomprehension about why anyone would want to do that. “This thing,” he told the Mercers, “is so fucked up.”

Bannon, who became chief executive of Trump’s team in mid-August, called it “the broke-dick campaign.” Almost immediately, he saw that it was hampered by an even deeper structural flaw: The candidate who billed himself as a billionaire — ten times over — refused to invest his own money in it. Bannon told Kushner that, after the first debate in September, they would need another $50 million to cover them until Election Day.

“No way we’ll get 50 million unless we can guarantee him victory,” said a clear-eyed Kushner.

“Twenty-five million?” prodded Bannon.

“If we can say victory is more than likely.”

In the end, the best Trump would do is to loan the campaign $10 million, provided he got it back as soon as they could raise other money. Steve Mnuchin, the campaign’s finance chairman, came to collect the loan with the wire instructions ready to go so Trump couldn’t conveniently forget to send the money.

Most presidential candidates spend their entire careers, if not their lives from adolescence, preparing for the role. They rise up the ladder of elected offices, perfect a public face, and prepare themselves to win and to govern. The Trump calculation, quite a conscious one, was different. The candidate and his top lieutenants believed they could get all the benefits of almost becoming president without having to change their behavior or their worldview one whit. Almost everybody on the Trump team, in fact, came with the kind of messy conflicts bound to bite a president once he was in office. Michael Flynn, the retired general who served as Trump’s opening act at campaign rallies, had been told by his friends that it had not been a good idea to take $45,000 from the Russians for a speech. “Well, it would only be a problem if we won,” ­Flynn assured them.

Not only did Trump disregard the potential conflicts of his own business deals and real-estate holdings, he audaciously refused to release his tax returns. Why should he? Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.

Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears — and not of joy.

There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump. But still to come was the final transformation: Suddenly, Donald Trump became a man who believed that he deserved to be, and was wholly capable of being, the president of the United States.

From the moment of victory, the Trump administration became a looking-glass presidency: Every inverse assumption about how to assemble and run a White House was enacted and compounded, many times over. The decisions that Trump and his top advisers made in those first few months — from the slapdash transition to the disarray in the West Wing — set the stage for the chaos and dysfunction that have persisted throughout his first year in office. This was a real-life version of Mel Brooks’s The Producers, where the mistaken outcome trusted by everyone in Trump’s inner circle — that they would lose the election — wound up exposing them for who they really were.

On the Saturday after the election, Trump received a small group of well-­wishers in his triplex apartment in Trump Tower. Even his close friends were still shocked and bewildered, and there was a dazed quality to the gathering. But Trump himself was mostly looking at the clock. Rupert Murdoch, who had promised to pay a call on the president-elect, was running late. When some of the guests made a move to leave, an increasingly agitated Trump assured them that Rupert was on his way. “He’s one of the greats, the last of the greats,” Trump said. “You have to stay to see him.” Not grasping that he was now the most powerful man in the world, Trump was still trying mightily to curry favor with a media mogul who had long disdained him as a charlatan and fool.

The day after the election, the bare-bones transition team that had been set up during the campaign hurriedly shifted from Washington to Trump Tower. The building — now the headquarters of a populist revolution —­ suddenly seemed like an alien spaceship on Fifth Avenue. But its otherworldly air helped obscure the fact that few in Trump’s inner circle, with their overnight responsibility for assembling a government, had any relevant experience.

Ailes, a veteran of the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush 41 administrations, tried to impress on Trump the need to create a White House structure that could serve and protect him. “You need a son of a bitch as your chief of staff,” he told Trump. “And you need a son of a bitch who knows Washington. You’ll want to be your own son of a bitch, but you don’t know Washington.” Ailes had a suggestion: John Boehner, who had stepped down as Speaker of the House only a year earlier.

“Who’s that?” asked Trump.

As much as the president himself, the chief of staff determines how the Executive branch — which employs 4 million people — will run. The job has been construed as deputy president, or even prime minister. But Trump had no interest in appointing a strong chief of staff with a deep knowledge of Washington. Among his early choices for the job was Kushner — a man with no political experience beyond his role as a calm and flattering body man to Trump during the campaign.

It was Ann Coulter who finally took the president-elect aside. “Nobody is apparently telling you this,” she told him. “But you can’t. You just can’t hire your children.”

Bowing to pressure, Trump floated the idea of giving the job to Steve Bannon, only to have the notion soundly ridiculed. Murdoch told Trump that Bannon would be a dangerous choice. Joe Scarborough, the former congressman and co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, told the president-elect that “Washington will go up in flames” if Bannon became chief of staff.

So Trump turned to Reince Priebus, the RNC chairman, who had became the subject of intense lobbying by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. If congressional leaders were going to have to deal with an alien like Donald Trump, then best they do it with the help of one of their own kind.

Jim Baker, chief of staff for both Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and almost everybody’s model for managing the West Wing, advised Priebus not to take the job. Priebus had his own reservations: He had come out of his first long meeting with Trump thinking it had been a disconcertingly weird experience. Trump talked nonstop and constantly repeated himself.

“Here’s the deal,” a close Trump associate told Priebus. “In an hour meeting with him, you’re going to hear 54 minutes of stories, and they’re going to be the same stories over and over again. So you have to have one point to make, and you pepper it in whenever you can.”

But the Priebus appointment, announced in mid-November, put Bannon on a co-equal level to the new chief of staff. Even with the top job, Priebus would be a weak figure, in the traditional mold of most Trump lieutenants over the years. There would be one chief of staff in name — the unimportant one — and ­others like Bannon and Kushner, more important in practice, ensuring both chaos and Trump’s independence.

Priebus demonstrated no ability to keep Trump from talking to anyone who wanted his ear. The president-elect enjoyed being courted. On December 14, a high-level delegation from Silicon Valley came to Trump Tower to meet him. Later that afternoon, according to a source privy to details of the conversation, Trump called Rupert Murdoch, who asked him how the meeting had gone.

“Oh, great, just great,” said Trump. “These guys really need my help. Obama was not very favorable to them, too much regulation. This is really an opportunity for me to help them.”

“Donald,” said Murdoch, “for eight years these guys had Obama in their pocket. They practically ran the administration. They don’t need your help.”

“Take this H-1B visa issue. They really need these H-1B visas.”

Murdoch suggested that taking a liberal approach to H-1B visas, which open America’s doors to select immigrants, might be hard to square with his promises to build a wall and close the borders. But Trump seemed unconcerned, assuring Murdoch, “We’ll figure it out.”

“What a fucking idiot,” said Murdoch, shrugging, as he got off the phone.

Steve Bannon, suddenly among the world’s most powerful men, was running late. It was the evening of January 3, 2017 — a little more than two weeks before Trump’s inauguration — and Bannon had promised to come to a small dinner arranged by mutual friends in a Greenwich Village townhouse to see Roger Ailes.

Snow was threatening, and for a while the dinner appeared doubtful. But the 76-year-old Ailes, who was as dumbfounded by his old friend Donald Trump’s victory as everyone else, understood that he was passing the right-wing torch to Bannon. Ailes’s Fox News, with its $1.5 billion in annual profits, had dominated Republican politics for two decades. Now Bannon’s Breit­bart News, with its mere $1.5 million in annual profits, was claiming that role. For 30 years, Ailes — until recently the single most powerful person in conservative ­politics — had humored and tolerated Trump, but in the end Bannon and Breitbart had elected him.

At 9:30, having extricated himself from Trump Tower, Bannon finally arrived at the dinner, three hours late. Wearing a disheveled blazer, his signature pairing of two shirts, and military fatigues, the unshaven, overweight 63-year-old immediately dived into an urgent download of information about the world he was about to take over.

“We’re going to flood the zone so we have every Cabinet member for the next seven days through their confirmation hearings,” he said of the business-and-military, 1950s-type Cabinet choices. “Tillerson is two days, Sessions is two days, Mattis is two days …”

Bannon veered from James “Mad Dog” ­Mattis — the retired four-star general whom Trump had nominated as secretary of Defense — to the looming appointment of Michael Flynn as national-security adviser. “He’s fine. He’s not Jim Mattis and he’s not John Kelly … but he’s fine. He just needs the right staff around him.” Still, Bannon averred: “When you take out all the Never Trump guys who signed all those letters and all the neocons who got us in all these wars … it’s not a deep bench.” Bannon said he’d tried to push John Bolton, the famously hawkish diplomat, for the job as national-security adviser. Bolton was an Ailes favorite, too.

“He’s a bomb thrower,” said Ailes. “And a strange little fucker. But you need him. Who else is good on Israel? Flynn is a little nutty on Iran. Tillerson just knows oil.”

“Bolton’s mustache is a problem,” snorted Bannon. “Trump doesn’t think he looks the part. You know Bolton is an acquired taste.”

“Well, he got in trouble because he got in a fight in a hotel one night and chased some woman.”

“If I told Trump that,” Bannon said slyly, “he might have the job.”

Bannon was curiously able to embrace Trump while at the same time suggesting he did not take him entirely seriously. Great numbers of people, he believed, were suddenly receptive to a new message — the world needs borders — and Trump had become the platform for that message.

“Does he get it?” asked Ailes suddenly, looking intently at Bannon. Did Trump get where history had put him?

Bannon took a sip of water. “He gets it,” he said, after hesitating for perhaps a beat too long. “Or he gets what he gets.”

Pivoting from Trump himself, Bannon plunged on with the Trump agenda. “Day one we’re moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s all-in. Sheldon” — Adelson, the casino billionaire and far-right Israel defender — “is all-in. We know where we’re heading on this … Let Jordan take the West Bank, let Egypt take Gaza. Let them deal with it. Or sink trying.”

“Where’s Donald on this?” asked Ailes, the clear implication being that Bannon was far out ahead of his benefactor.

“He’s totally onboard.”

“I wouldn’t give Donald too much to think about,” said an amused Ailes.

Bannon snorted. “Too much, too little — doesn’t necessarily change things.”

“What has he gotten himself into with the Russians?” pressed Ailes.

“Mostly,” said Bannon, “he went to Russia and he thought he was going to meet Putin. But Putin couldn’t give a shit about him. So he’s kept trying.”

Again, as though setting the issue of Trump aside — merely a large and peculiar presence to both be thankful for and to have to abide — Bannon, in the role he had conceived for himself, the auteur of the Trump presidency, charged forward. The real enemy, he said, was China. China was the first front in a new Cold War.

“China’s everything. Nothing else matters. We don’t get China right, we don’t get anything right. This whole thing is very simple. China is where Nazi Germany was in 1929 to 1930. The Chinese, like the Germans, are the most rational people in the world, until they’re not. And they’re gonna flip like Germany in the ’30s. You’re going to have a hypernationalist state, and once that happens, you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”

“Donald might not be Nixon in China,” said Ailes, deadpan.

Bannon smiled. “Bannon in China,” he said, with both remarkable grandiosity and wry self-deprecation.

“How’s the kid?” asked Ailes, referring to Kushner.

“He’s my partner,” said Bannon, his tone suggesting that if he felt otherwise, he was nevertheless determined to stay on message.

“He’s had a lot of lunches with Rupert,” said a dubious Ailes.

“In fact,” said Bannon, “I could use your help here.” He then spent several minutes trying to recruit Ailes to help kneecap Murdoch. Since his ouster from Fox over allegations of sexual harassment, Ailes had become only more bitter toward Murdoch. Now Murdoch was frequently jawboning the president-elect and encouraging him toward Establishment moderation. Bannon wanted Ailes to suggest to Trump, a man whose many neuroses included a horror of senility, that Murdoch might be losing it.

“I’ll call him,” said Ailes. “But Trump would jump through hoops for Rupert. Like for Putin. Sucks up and shits down. I just worry about who’s jerking whose chain.”

Trump did not enjoy his own inauguration. He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears. Throughout the day, he wore what some around him had taken to calling his golf face: angry and pissed off, shoulders hunched, arms swinging, brow furled, lips pursed.

The first senior staffer to enter the White House that day was Bannon. On the inauguration march, he had grabbed 32-year-old Katie Walsh, the newly appointed deputy chief of staff, and together they had peeled off to inspect the now-vacant West Wing. The carpet had been shampooed, but little else had changed. It was a warren of tiny offices in need of paint, the décor something like an admissions office at a public university. Bannon claimed the non­descript office across from the much grander chief of staff’s suite and immediately requisitioned the whiteboards on which he intended to chart the first 100 days of the Trump administration. He also began moving furniture out. The point was to leave no room for anyone to sit. Limit discussion. Limit debate. This was war.

Those who had worked on the campaign noticed the sudden change. Within the first week, Bannon seemed to have put away the camaraderie of Trump Tower and become far more remote, if not unreachable. “What’s up with Steve?” Kushner began to ask. “I don’t understand. We were so close.” Now that Trump had been elected, Bannon was already focused on his next goal: capturing the soul of the Trump White House.

He began by going after his enemies. Few fueled his rancor toward the standard-issue Republican world as much as Rupert ­Murdoch — not least because Murdoch had Trump’s ear. It was one of the key elements of Bannon’s understanding of Trump: The last person the president spoke to ended up with enormous influence. Trump would brag that Murdoch was always calling him; Murdoch, for his part, would complain that he couldn’t get Trump off the phone.

“He doesn’t know anything about American politics, and has no feel for the American people,” Bannon told Trump, always eager to point out that Murdoch wasn’t an American. Yet in one regard, Murdoch’s message was useful to Bannon. Having known every president since Harry ­Truman — as Murdoch took frequent opportunities to point out — the media mogul warned Trump that a president has only six months, max, to set his agenda and make an impact. After that, it was just putting out fires and battling the opposition.

This was the message whose urgency Bannon had been trying to impress on an often distracted Trump, who was already trying to limit his hours in the office and keep to his normal golf habits. Bannon’s strategic view of government was shock and awe. In his head, he carried a set of decisive actions that would not just mark the new administration’s opening days but make it clear that nothing ever again would be the same. He had quietly assembled a list of more than 200 executive orders to issue in the first 100 days. The very first EO, in his view, had to be a crackdown on immigration. After all, it was one of Trump’s core campaign promises. Plus, Bannon knew, it was an issue that made liberals batshit mad.

Bannon could push through his agenda for a simple reason: because nobody in the administration really had a job. Priebus, as chief of staff, had to organize meetings, hire staff, and oversee the individual offices in the Executive-branch departments. But Bannon, Kushner, and Ivanka Trump had no specific responsibilities — they did what they wanted. And for Bannon, the will to get big things done was how big things got done. “Chaos was Steve’s strategy,” said Walsh.

On Friday, January 27 — only his eighth day in office — Trump signed an executive order issuing a sweeping exclusion of many Muslims from the United States. In his mania to seize the day, with almost no one in the federal government having seen it or even been aware of it, Bannon had succeeded in pushing through an executive order that overhauled U.S. immigration policy while bypassing the very agencies and personnel responsible for enforcing it.

The result was an emotional outpouring of horror and indignation from liberal media, terror in immigrant communities, tumultuous protests at major airports, confusion throughout the government, and, in the White House, an inundation of opprobrium from friends and family. What have you done? You have to undo this! You’re finished before you even start! But Bannon was satisfied. He could not have hoped to draw a more vivid line between Trump’s America and that of liberals. Almost the entire White House staff demanded to know: Why did we do this on a Friday, when it would hit the airports hardest and bring out the most protesters?

“Errr … that’s why,” said Bannon. “So the snowflakes would show up at the airports and riot.” That was the way to crush the liberals: Make them crazy and drag them to the left.

On the Sunday after the immigration order was issued, Joe Scarborough and his Morning Joe co-host, Mika Brzezinski, arrived for lunch at the White House. Trump proudly showed them into the Oval Office. “So how do you think the first week has gone?” he asked the couple, in a buoyant mood, seeking flattery. When Scarborough ventured his opinion that the immigration order might have been handled better, Trump turned defensive and derisive, plunging into a long monologue about how well things had gone. “I could have invited Hannity!” he told Scarborough.

After Jared and Ivanka joined them for lunch, Trump continued to cast for positive impressions of his first week. Scarborough praised the president for having invited leaders of the steel unions to the White House. At which point Jared interjected that reaching out to unions, a Democratic constituency, was Bannon’s doing, that this was “the Bannon way.”

“Bannon?” said the president, jumping on his son-in-law. “That wasn’t Bannon’s idea. That was my idea. It’s the Trump way, not the Bannon way.”

Kushner, going concave, retreated from the discussion.

Trump, changing the topic, said to Scarborough and Brzezinski, “So what about you guys? What’s going on?” He was referencing their not-so-secret secret relationship. The couple said it was still complicated, but good.

“You guys should just get married,” prodded Trump.

“I can marry you! I’m an internet Unitarian minister,” Kushner, otherwise an Orthodox Jew, said suddenly.

“What?” said the president. “What are you talking about? Why would they want you to marry them when could marry them? When they could be married by the president! At Mar-a-Lago!”

The First Children couple were having to navigate Trump’s volatile nature just like everyone else in the White House. And they were willing to do it for the same reason as everyone else — in the hope that Trump’s unexpected victory would catapult them into a heretofore unimagined big time. Balancing risk against reward, both Jared and Ivanka decided to accept roles in the West Wing over the advice of almost everyone they knew. It was a joint decision by the couple, and, in some sense, a joint job. Between themselves, the two had made an earnest deal: If sometime in the future the opportunity arose, she’d be the one to run for president. The first woman president, Ivanka entertained, would not be Hillary Clinton; it would be Ivanka Trump.

Bannon, who had coined the term “Jarvanka” that was now in ever greater use in the White House, was horrified when the couple’s deal was reported to him. “They didn’t say that?” he said. “Stop. Oh, come on. They didn’t actually say that? Please don’t tell me that. Oh my God.”

The truth was, Ivanka and Jared were as much the chief of staff as Priebus or Bannon, all of them reporting directly to the president. The couple had opted for formal jobs in the West Wing, in part because they knew that influencing Trump required you to be all-in. From phone call to phone call — and his day, beyond organized meetings, was almost entirely phone calls — you could lose him. He could not really converse, not in the sense of sharing information, or of a balanced back-and-forth conversation. He neither particularly listened to what was said to him nor particularly considered what he said in response. He demanded you pay him attention, then decided you were weak for groveling. In a sense, he was like an instinctive, pampered, and hugely successful actor. Everybody was either a lackey who did his bidding or a high-ranking film functionary trying to coax out his performance — without making him angry or petulant.

Ivanka maintained a relationship with her father that was in no way conventional. She was a helper not just in his business dealings, but in his marital realignments. If it wasn’t pure opportunism, it was certainly transactional. For Ivanka, it was all business — building the Trump brand, the presidential campaign, and now the White House. She treated her father with a degree of detachment, even irony, going so far as to make fun of his comb-over to others. She often described the mechanics behind it to friends: an absolutely clean pate — a contained island after scalp-reduction ­surgery — surrounded by a furry circle of hair around the sides and front, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray. The color, she would point out to comical effect, was from a product called Just for Men — the longer it was left on, the darker it got. Impatience resulted in Trump’s orange-blond hair color.

Kushner, for his part, had little to no success at trying to restrain his father-in-law. Ever since the transition, Jared had been negotiating to arrange a meeting at the White House with Enrique Peña Nieto, the Mexican president whom Trump had threatened and insulted throughout the campaign. On the Wednesday after the inauguration, a high-level Mexican delegation — the first visit by any foreign leaders to the Trump White House — met with Kushner and Reince Priebus. That afternoon, Kushner triumphantly told his father-in-law that Peña Nieto had signed on to a White House meeting and planning for the visit could go forward.

The next day, on Twitter, Trump blasted Mexico for stealing American jobs. “If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall,” the president declared, “then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting.” At which point Peña Nieto did just that, leaving Kushner’s negotiation and statecraft as so much scrap on the floor.

Nothing contributed to the chaos and dysfunction of the White House as much as Trump’s own behavior. The big deal of being president was just not apparent to him. Most victorious candidates, arriving in the White House from ordinary political life, could not help but be reminded of their transformed circumstances by their sudden elevation to a mansion with palacelike servants and security, a plane at constant readiness, and downstairs a retinue of courtiers and advisers. But this wasn’t that different from Trump’s former life in Trump Tower, which was actually more commodious and to his taste than the White House.

Trump, in fact, found the White House to be vexing and even a little scary. He retreated to his own bedroom — the first time since the Kennedy White House that a presidential couple had maintained separate rooms. In the first days, he ordered two television screens in addition to the one already there, and a lock on the door, precipitating a brief standoff with the Secret Service, who insisted they have access to the room. He ­reprimanded the housekeeping staff for picking up his shirt from the floor: “If my shirt is on the floor, it’s because I want it on the floor.” Then he imposed a set of new rules: Nobody touch anything, especially not his toothbrush. (He had a longtime fear of being poisoned, one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald’s — nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely premade.) Also, he would let housekeeping know when he wanted his sheets done, and he would strip his own bed.

If he was not having his 6:30 dinner with Steve Bannon, then, more to his liking, he was in bed by that time with a cheeseburger, watching his three screens and making phone calls — the phone was his true contact point with the world — to a small group of friends, who charted his rising and falling levels of agitation through the evening and then compared notes with one another.

As details of Trump’s personal life leaked out, he became obsessed with identifying the leaker. The source of all the gossip, however, may well have been Trump himself. In his calls throughout the day and at night from his bed, he often spoke to people who had no reason to keep his confidences. He was a river of grievances, which recipients of his calls promptly spread to the ever-attentive media.

On February 6, in one of his seething, self-pitying, and unsolicited phone calls to a casual acquaintance, Trump detailed his bent-out-of-shape feelings about the relentless contempt of the media and the disloyalty of his staff. The initial subject of his ire was the New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, whom he called “a nut job.” Gail Collins, who had written a Times column unfavorably comparing Trump to Vice-President Mike Pence, was “a moron.” Then, continuing under the rubric of media he hated, he veered to CNN and the deep disloyalty of its chief, Jeff Zucker.

Zucker, who as the head of entertainment at NBC had commissioned The Apprentice, had been “made by Trump,” Trump said of himself in the third person. He had “personally” gotten Zucker his job at CNN. “Yes, yes, I did,” said the president, launching into a favorite story about how he had once talked Zucker up at a dinner with a high-ranking executive from CNN’s parent company. “I probably shouldn’t have, because Zucker is not that smart,” Trump lamented, “but I like to show I can do that sort of thing.” Then Zucker had returned the favor by airing the “unbelievably disgusting” story about the Russian “dossier” and the “golden shower” — the practice CNN had accused him of being party to in a Moscow hotel suite with assorted prostitutes.

Having dispensed with Zucker, the president of the United States went on to speculate on what was involved with a golden shower. And how this was all just part of a media campaign that would never succeed in driving him from the White House. Because they were sore losers and hated him for winning, they spread total lies, 100 percent made-up things, totally untrue, for instance, the cover that week of Time magazine — which, Trump reminded his listener, he had been on more than anyone in ­history — that showed Steve Bannon, a good guy, saying he was the real president. “How much influence do you think Steve Bannon has over me?” Trump demanded. He repeated the question, then repeated the answer: “Zero! Zero!” And that went for his son-in-law, too, who had a lot to learn.

The media was not only hurting him, he said — he was not looking for any agreement or even any response — but hurting his negotiating capabilities, which hurt the nation. And that went for Saturday Night Live, which might think it was very funny but was actually hurting everybody in the country. And while he understood that SNL was there to be mean to him, they were being very, very mean. It was “fake comedy.” He had reviewed the treatment of all other presidents in the media, and there was nothing like this ever, even of Nixon, who was treated very unfairly. “Kellyanne, who is very fair, has this all documented. You can look at it.”

The point is, he said, that that very day, he had saved $700 million a year in jobs that were going to Mexico, but the media was talking about him wandering around the White House in his bathrobe, which “I don’t have because I’ve never worn a bathrobe. And would never wear one, because I’m not that kind of guy.” And what the media was doing was undermining this very dignified house, and “dignity is so important.” But Murdoch, “who had never called me, never once,” was now calling all the time. So that should tell people something.

The call went on for 26 minutes.

Without a strong chief of staff at the White House, there was no real up-and-down structure in the administration—merely a figure at the top and everyone else scrambling for his attention. It wasn’t task-based so much as response-oriented — whatever captured the boss’s attention focused everybody’s attention. Priebus and Bannon and Kushner were all fighting to be the power behind the Trump throne. And in these crosshairs was Katie Walsh, the deputy chief of staff.

Walsh, who came to the White House from the RNC, represented a certain Republican ideal: clean, brisk, orderly, efficient. A righteous bureaucrat with a permanently grim expression, she was a fine example of the many political professionals in whom competence and organizational skills transcend ideology. To Walsh, it became clear almost immediately that “the three gentlemen running things,” as she came to characterize them, had each found his own way to appeal to the president. Bannon offered a rousing fuck-you show of force; Priebus offered flattery from the congressional leadership; Kushner offered the approval of blue-chip businessmen. Each appeal was exactly what Trump wanted from the presidency, and he didn’t understand why he couldn’t have them all. He wanted to break things, he wanted Congress to give him bills to sign, and he wanted the love and respect of New York machers and socialites.

As soon as the campaign team had stepped into the White House, Walsh saw, it had gone from managing Trump to the expectation of being managed by him. Yet the president, while proposing the most radical departure from governing and policy norms in several generations, had few specific ideas about how to turn his themes and vitriol into policy. And making suggestions to him was deeply complicated. Here, arguably, was the central issue of the Trump presidency, informing every aspect of Trumpian policy and leadership: He didn’t process information in any conventional sense. He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-­literate. He trusted his own expertise ­— no matter how paltry or irrelevant — more than anyone else’s. He was often confident, but he was just as often paralyzed, less a savant than a figure of sputtering and dangerous insecurities, whose instinctive response was to lash out and behave as if his gut, however confused, was in fact in some clear and forceful way telling him what to do. It was, said Walsh, “like trying to figure out what a child wants.”

By the end of the second week following the immigration EO, the three advisers were in open conflict with one another. For Walsh, it was a daily process of managing an impossible task: Almost as soon as she received direction from one of the three men, it would be countermanded by one or another of them.

“I take a conversation at face value and move forward with it,” she said. “I put what was decided on the schedule and bring in comms and build a press plan around it … And then Jared says, ‘Why did you do that?’ And I say, ‘Because we had a meeting three days ago with you and Reince and Steve where you agreed to do this.’ And he says, ‘But that didn’t mean I wanted it on the schedule …’ It almost doesn’t matter what anyone says: Jared will agree, and then it will get sabotaged, and then Jared goes to the president and says, see, that was Reince’s idea or Steve’s idea.”

If Bannon, Priebus, and Kushner were now fighting a daily war with one another, it was exacerbated by the running disinformation campaign about them that was being prosecuted by the president himself. When he got on the phone after dinner, he’d speculate on the flaws and weaknesses of each member of his staff. Bannon was disloyal (not to mention he always looks like shit). Priebus was weak (not to mention he was short — a midget). Kushner was a suck-up. Sean Spicer was stupid (and looks terrible too). Conway was a crybaby. Jared and Ivanka should never have come to Washington.

During that first month, Walsh’s disbelief and even fear about what was happening in the White House moved her to think about quitting. Every day after that became a countdown toward the moment she knew she wouldn’t be able to take it anymore. To Walsh, the proud political pro, the chaos, the rivalries, and the president’s own lack of focus were simply incomprehensible. In early March, not long before she left, she confronted Kushner with a simple request. “Just give me the three things the president wants to focus on,” she demanded. “What are the three priorities of this White House?”

It was the most basic question imaginable — one that any qualified presidential candidate would have answered long before he took up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Six weeks into Trump’s presidency, Kushner was wholly without an answer.

“Yes,” he said to Walsh. “We should probably have that conversation.”

*Excerpted from Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff (Henry Holt and Co., January 9, 2018). This article appears in the January 8, 2018, issue of New York Magazine.

*This article has been updated to include more information from Wolff’s book about the nature of Trump’s conversation with the Mercers.

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2018/01/michael-wolff-fire-and-fury-book-donald-trump.html

 

White House Bashes New Book On Trump: It’s ‘Trashy Tabloid Fiction’

President Donald Trump and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders speak to the media during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The White House was quick to dismiss a new book about President Donald Trump’s campaign and presidency on Wednesday after New York Magazine published an excerpt.

“This book is filled with false and misleading accounts from individuals who have no access or influence with the White House,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. “Participating in a book that can only be described as trashy tabloid fiction exposes their sad desperate attempts at relevancy.”

The excerpt from Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” painted a picture of a chaotic campaign and White House run by staffers who were unprepared for their roles and who were constantly battling each other for Trump’s attention. The book also alleges that Melania Trump did not want Trump to win the White House and was upset when he won the race.

The first lady’s spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, denied that account in a statement.

“The book is clearly going to be sold in the bargain fiction section. Mrs. Trump supported her husband’s decision to run for President and in fact, encouraged him to do so. She was confident he would win and was very happy when he did,” Grisham said.

Trump’s response to the book was less measured and specifically took aim at Steve Bannon, who told Wolff that the infamous Trump Tower meeting Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner attended with a Kremlin-linked lawyer in June 2016 was “treasonous,” per The Guardian. In a Wednesday statement, Trump said that Bannon had “lost his mind” and claimed that he did little to help Trump win the presidency.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/white-house-pushes-back-michael-wolff-book

 

Michael Wolff (journalist)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Michael Wolff
Michael Wolff.jpg

Wolff in Rome, Italy (June 2008)
Born August 27, 1953 (age 64)
Occupation Columnist, Internet entrepreneur, television commentator
Nationality American
Alma mater Vassar CollegeColumbia University
Spouse Alison Anthoine
Website
www.newser.com

Michael Wolff (born August 27, 1953) is an American authoressayist, and journalist who is a regular columnist and contributor to USA Today, The Hollywood Reporter, and the UK edition of GQ.[1]

Early life

Michael Wolff was born in New Jersey, the son of Lewis A. Wolff, an advertising man, and Marguerite “Van” (Vanderwerf) Wolff (1925–2012), a newspaper reporter. He went to Columbia College of Columbia University in New York City. While a student at Columbia, he worked for The New York Times as a copy boy.

He published his first magazine article in the New York Times Magazine in 1974: a profile of Angela Atwood, a neighbor of his family. As a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army, she helped kidnap Patricia Hearst. Shortly afterwards he left the Times and became a contributing writer to the New Times, a bi-weekly news magazine started by John Larsen and George Hirsch. Wolff’s first book was White Kids (1979), a collection of essays.

Career

After publishing his first book, Wolff received an advance to write a novel, which he never finished. A college friend, Steven J. Hueglin, who had become a successful Wall Street banker, asked for Wolff’s help in evaluating investments in media companies. He pulled him into a career as a media business entrepreneur.[citation needed]

In 1988, Wolff took over the management of the magazine Campaigns & Elections. He became involved in advising start-up magazines, including Wired. He also raised financing for media companies and new businesses.[citation needed]

In 1991, he launched Michael Wolff & Company, Inc., specializing in book-packaging. Its first project, Where We Stand, was a book with a companion PBS series. The company’s next major project was creating one of the first guides to the Internet, albeit in book form. Net Guide was published by Random House.[2] On the eve of launching the title as a monthly magazine, the incipient magazine was bought by CMP Media, the publisher of computer magazines.[citation needed]

Wolff’s company continued to publish a succession of book-form Internet guides. In 1995, the company took a round of venture capital investment, with shareholders including Patricof & Co., the New York venture capitalfirm. It began to convert its print directories into a website and digital directory called Your Personal Network. At one point, the company was valued by bankers seeking to take the company public at more than $100 million. The venture collapsed in 1997, and Wolff was expelled from the company.[citation needed]

Return to writing

Wolff returned to writing, from which he had been absent for more than ten years, and recounted the details of the financing, positioning, personalities, and ultimate breakdown of a start-up Internet company. The book, Burn Rate, became a bestseller. Wolff briefly worked as a weekly columnist for The Industry Standard, an Internet trade magazine published by IDG.[3]

In August 1998, he was recruited by New York magazine to write a weekly column. Over the next six years, he wrote more than 300 columns, solidifying his reputation as provocative and knowledgeable writer about the media industry.[4] The entrepreneur Steven Brill, the media banker Steven Rattner, and the book publisher Judith Regan, were criticized by him.[5][6][7][8]

Wolff has been nominated for the National Magazine Award three times, winning twice.[9] His second National Magazine Award was for a series of columns he wrote from the media center in the Persian Gulf as the Iraq War started in 2003. His book, Autumn of the Moguls (2004), which predicted the mainstream media crisis that hit later in the decade, was based on many of his New York magazine columns.[10]

In 2004, when New York magazine’s owners, Primedia, Inc., put the title up for sale, Wolff helped assemble a group of investors, including New York Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman, to back him in acquiring the magazine.[11][12] Although the group believed it had made a successful bid, Primedia decided to sell the magazine to the investment banker Bruce Wasserstein.[13]

In 2005, Wolff joined Vanity Fair as its media columnist.[14] In 2007, with Patrick Spain, the founder of Hoover’s, and Caroline Miller, the former editor-in-chief of New York magazine, he launched Newser, a news curator.[15]

That year, he also wrote a biography of Rupert MurdochThe Man Who Owns the News, based on more than 50 hours of conversation with Murdoch, and extensive access to his business associates and his family. The book was published in 2008.[16][17][not in citation given] That year he also began writing a daily column for Newser.[18]

In 2010, Wolff became editor of Adweek. He lasted in the job barely a year before stepping down.[19]

Wolff wrote Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, which will be released on January 9, 2018. After an excerpt was released online on January 3, the book reached number one on Amazon.com.[20]

Criticism

In its review of Wolff’s book Burn RateBrill’s Content criticized Wolff for “apparent factual errors” and said that 13 people, including subjects he mentioned, complained that Wolff had “invented or changed quotes”.[21]

In a 2004 cover story for The New Republic, Michelle Cottle wrote that Wolff was “uninterested in the working press,” preferring to focus on “the power players—the moguls” and was “fixated on culture, style, buzz, and money, money, money.” She also noted that “the scenes in his columns aren’t recreated so much as created—springing from Wolff’s imagination rather than from actual knowledge of events.” Calling his writing “a whirlwind of flourishes and tangents and asides that often stray so far from the central point that you begin to wonder whether there is a central point.”[22]

The Columbia Journalism Review criticized Wolff in 2010 when he suggested that The New York Times was aggressively covering the breaking News International phone hacking scandal as a way of attacking News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch.[23]

Personal life

Wolff was married to Alison Anthoine, an attorney.[24] Wolff began divorce proceedings from Anthoine in 2009.[24] Since 2009, Wolff has been dating freelance writer Victoria Floethe.[25][26]

Books

  • The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch
  • Burn Rate: How I Survived the Gold Rush Years on the Internet
  • Autumn of the Moguls: My Misadventures With the Titans, Poseurs, and Money Guys Who Mastered and Messed Up Big Media
  • Where We Stand
  • White Kids
  • Television Is the New Television: The Unexpected Triumph of Old Media In the Digital Age
  • Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House (forthcoming)

Reviews

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Wolff_(journalist)

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Story 1: Nationwide Protests In Iran Turn Increasingly Violent With More Than 22 Deaths — Videos

Posted on January 2, 2018. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, College, Corruption, Crisis, Cult, Culture, Documentary, Economics, Education, Employment, Energy, Faith, Family, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government, government spending, history, Islam, Islam, Journalism, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Middle East, Money, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Nuclear Power, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Pistols, Police, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Religion, Religious, Resources, Rifles, Security, Shite, Speech, Talk Radio, Taxation, Terrorism, Torture, Unemployment, Video, War, Welfare, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , |

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Trump praises protesters for challenging Iran’s ‘brutal and corrupt’ regime after official warns demonstrators face the DEATH PENALTY as nine die overnight and 450 have been arrested

  • US President said Iranians are ‘finally acting against brutal and corrupt regime’
  • Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ‘has met senior officials for talks’
  • Notes from meeting say ‘God help us’ and reveal economic impact of unrest
  • Khamenei this morning said ‘enemies’ of the Islamic Republic had stirred unrest 
  • Nine more have been killed overnight while 450 have been arrested during riots

Donald Trump has praised protesters for challenging Iran‘s ‘brutal and corrupt’ regime after a Tehran official warned demonstrators face the death penalty.

After days of unrest that have seen 21 people killed and more than 450 arrested, the US President said Iranians were ‘finally acting’.

‘All of the money that President Obama so foolishly gave them went into terrorism and into their ‘pockets.’ The people have little food, big inflation and no human rights. The U.S. is watching!’ he wrote this morning.

Iran’s foreign ministry hit back saying Trump should focus on ‘homeless and hungry people’ in his own country rather than insulting Iranians.

It comes after nine people died in overnight clashes and the head of Tehran’s Revolutionary Court reportedly warned detained protesters could be executed.

The death toll from violent protests in Iran has risen to 21 after nine more people were killed in clashes overnight. New pictures have emerged showing some of the unrest on New Year's Eve with a building on fire in Dorud

Six of the most recent decent deaths happened when protesters clashed with security forces as they tried to storm a police station in Qahderijan, a town of 30,000 in the Isfahan region of central Iran. People stand near a burning car in Tuyserkan, Hamadan Province, Iran on December 31

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (pictured today) has blamed the country's 'enemies' for riots that have claimed nine more lives overnight
 Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (pictured today) has blamed the country’s ‘enemies’ for riots that have claimed nine more lives overnight
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (pictured) has dismissed the protests taking place across Iran on Monday as 'nothing', in a bid to downplay the significance of the increasingly violent demonstrationsIranian President Hassan Rouhani (pictured) has dismissed the protests taking place across Iran on Monday as ‘nothing’, in a bid to downplay the significance of the increasingly violent demonstrations

Donald Trump has praised protesters for challenging Iran's 'brutal and corrupt' regime after a Tehran official warned demonstrators face the death penalty. In a tweet, the US President said saluted Iranians for 'finally acting' after days of unrest that have seen 21 people killed and more than 450 arrested

Donald Trump has praised protesters for challenging Iran’s ‘brutal and corrupt’ regime after a Tehran official warned demonstrators face the death penalty. In a tweet, the US President said saluted Iranians for ‘finally acting’ after days of unrest that have seen 21 people killed and more than 450 arrested

Mousa Ghazanfarabadi said: ‘Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh,’ or waging war against God. That’s a death penalty offense in Iran. He was also quoted as saying some protesters will come to trial soon on charges of acting against national security and damaging public properties.

It comes after Iran‘s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the country’s ‘enemies’ for the riots. Khamenei is said to have met with top political leaders and security chiefs to discuss a clamp down on protests.

A report of the meeting states: ‘God help us, this is a very complex situation and is different from previous occasions.’

The documents emerged as nine were killed in clashes overnight bringing to 21 the total number of those killed in the unrest so far. Six deaths happened when protesters clashed with security forces as they tried to storm a police station in Qahderijan, a town of 30,000 in the Isfahan region of central Iran.

A member of the Revolutionary Guards and a passer-by were killed in nearby Kahriz Sang. Around 100 people were arrested overnight in the same region, Iranian state television reported.

Khamenei this morning said enemies of the Islamic Republic had stirred unrest, using ‘different tools including cash, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus to create troubles’.  

According to Fox News,  a leaked report of his meeting was given to the National Council of Resistance of Iran by senior government sources. It suggested the protests have hit the country’s economy and ‘threatens the regime’s security’.

‘The first step, therefore, is to find a way out of this situation,’ it added.

Twelve people have been reported dead during a fourth straight night of protests in Iran, including reports of three people killed in the city of Isfahan

Video purportedly taken in Isfahan on Sunday night shows dozens of people on the street before what sounds like gunshots are heard

Khamenei this morning said enemies of the Islamic Republic had stirred unrest, using 'different tools including cash, weapons, politics and intelligence apparatus to create troubles'

‘Religious leaders and the leadership must come to the scene as soon as possible and prevent the situation (from) deteriorating further. God help us, this is a very complex situation and is different from previous occasions.’

Despite the unrest, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani yesterday dismissed the protests as ‘nothing’

Earlier reports had already said a policeman was killed and three others injured in Najafabad after being shot with a hunting rifle.

That brings the estimated death toll to 21 in unrest linked to the protests, that began last Thursday in second city Mashhad and quickly spread across the country.

The unrest has remained focused on provincial towns and cities, with only sporadic protests reported in Tehran on Monday evening.

Some 450 people have been arrested in the Iranian capital, an official told local media on Tuesday.

‘200 people were arrested on Saturday, 150 on Sunday and around 100 on Monday,’ Ali-Asghar Naserbakht, a deputy in the Tehran city governor’s office, told the reformist-linked ILNA news agency.

IRAN BLOCKS SOCIAL MEDIA IN BID TO STOP SPREAD OF UNREST

Iran has shut down social media in an attempt to stop unrest from spreading widely as deadly anti-government protests continue across the country.

Authorities have blocked access to Instagram and the Telegram messaging app as part of a clamp down on its citizens’ internet communications.

Meanwhile, Google has faced calls to lift restrictions on its services for internet users in Iran so that millions of protesters can ‘connect and organise’.

President Hassan Rouhani has insisted people are ‘absolutely free’ to express their anger but ‘criticism is different to violence and destroying public property.’

But the demonstrations, which have claimed 21 lives and led to 450 arrests so far, were fanned in part by messages sent on social media platforms prompting a black out of some services on Sunday.

Iran has shut down social media in an attempt to stop unrest from spreading widely as deadly anti-government protests continue across the country. An iranian man is pictured showing how one of his apps is no longer functioning 

Iran has shut down social media in an attempt to stop unrest from spreading widely as deadly anti-government protests continue across the country. An iranian man is pictured showing how one of his apps is no longer functioning

Telegram in particular is very popular in Iran, with more than 50 per cent of the country’s 80m population said to be active on the app.

Iran state TV website reported the decision citing an anonymous source who said it was ‘in line with maintaining peace and security of the citizens.’

The source said: ‘With a decision by the Supreme National Security Council, activities of Telegram and Instagram are temporarily limited.’

Google meanwhile has been urged to lift internet restrictions in the country.

Dr Steven Murdoch, a security researcher in the Computer Science Department, University College London, told Sky News that Google blocks users from Iran from accessing many of its services because of US sanctions.

But as a result, people have encountered difficulties trying to use counter-censorship apps such as Signal, which was set up to bypass blocking by disguising itself amongst Google’s services.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden later tweeted: ‘Many US politicians say they want to help Iranian protesters. If they’re serious, one phone call could get @Google to restore millions of protesters’ ability to connect and organize.’

Google has not yet responded to requests for comments, Sky said.

Iran’s reformist politicians on Tuesday condemned violence that has rocked the country in recent days, accusing the US of stirring unrest while still calling on their government to address economic grievances.

‘Without doubt the Iranian people are confronted with difficulties in their daily lives… and have the right to peacefully demand and protest,’ said a statement from the Association of Combattant Clerics, headed by reformist ex-president Mohammad Khatami.

‘But the events of recent days have shown that opportunists and trouble-makers have exploited the demonstrations to create problems, insecurity and destroy public buildings, while insulting sacred religious and national values.’

Khatami led the country from 1997 to 2005 but was later barred from public appearances for his role in leading mass demonstrations in 2009.

The group said the violence seen through five days of protests across the country would help Iran’s ‘enemies’.

‘The enemies of Iran, headed by the United States and their agents… have encouraged the trouble-makers and the violent actions.’

Protests have been relatively small in Tehran compared with many parts of the country since the unrest began last Thursday.

‘We feel the situation in Tehran is more calm than previous days. Already yesterday, it was calmer than before,’ said Naserbakht.

He added that no request had yet been put to the Revolutionary Guards to intervene in the capital.

Crowds continued to gather in Iran despite the government blacking out the Telegram messaging app and Instagram

Police have used water cannon to disperse protesters who had  gathered in Ferdowsi Square, Tehran

‘We will not permit insecurity to continue in any way in Tehran. If it continues, officials will take decisions to finish it,’ said Esmail Kowsari, a deputy commander for a local branch of the Revolutionary Guards, on state television.

Rouhani yesterday attempted to downplay the significance of the mass demonstrations.

In what has become the biggest threat to Iranian leaders since the presidential protests in 2009, Rouhani’s words have so far failed to quell the increasingly violent uprising.

‘Our great nation has witnessed a number of similar incidents in the past and has comfortably dealt with them. This is nothing,’ Rouhani said in a meeting with Iranian members of parliament on Monday, CNN reported.  

Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, described the unrest – the biggest challenge to the regime since mass protests in 2009 – as a ‘proxy war against the Iranian people’.

‘Hashtags and messages about the situation in Iran come from the United States, Britain and Saudi Arabia,’ he told local media.

Iran’s intelligence ministry released a statement saying ‘instigators’ have been identified ‘and will be dealt with seriously soon’.

Iranian police use water cannon to disperse protesters

Hassan Rouhani said people were ‘completely free to express their criticism’ of the government but violence would not be tolerated in his first public remarks on the crisis

Protests started in the north east city of Mashhad last week but have since spread around the country in the most serious challenge to the regime since 2009 

Protests started in the north east city of Mashhad last week but have since spread around the country in the most serious challenge to the regime since 2009

The Revolutionary Guards have yet to fully intervene against the protesters, but published photos on Monday of three wanted people and called on the public to report any ‘seditionist elements’.

Pro-regime rallies were held across several towns and cities – reflecting continued support among a large conservative section of society.

Reporting restrictions remained tight, but videos on social media continued to show widespread anti-government protests in many areas.

Rouhani came to power in 2013 promising to mend the economy and ease social tensions, but high living costs and a 12 percent unemployment rate have left many feeling that progress is too slow.

The young are most affected, with as many as 40 percent out of work according to analysts, and rural areas particularly hard-hit.

‘People have had enough, especially the young people. They have nothing to be happy about,’ said Sarita Mohammadi, a 35-year-old teacher in Tehran.

‘The situation is far worse in provinces. Agriculture has been destroyed. I know many who have left the north of the country to come to Tehran to work,’ she added.

Rouhani acknowledged there was ‘no problem bigger than unemployment’ in a speech on Sunday, and also vowed a more balanced media and more transparency.

President Trump continued his attacks on the Iranian regime via Twitter as Rouhani said he has 'no right to feel pity for the people of Iran'

President Trump continued his attacks on the Iranian regime via Twitter as Rouhani said he has ‘no right to feel pity for the people of Iran’

US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly criticised Tehran over four days of demonstrations, said it was ‘time for a change’ and that Iran’s people were ‘hungry’ for freedom.

The European Union on Monday pushed Iran to guarantee the right to protest and separately British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said ‘the UK is watching events in Iran closely’.

‘We believe that there should be meaningful debate about the legitimate and important issues the protesters are raising and we look to the Iranian authorities to permit this,’ Johnson said in a statement.

In 2009, authorities ruthlessly put down protests against the re-election of hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. At least 36 people were killed in 2009, according to an official toll, while the opposition says 72 died. 

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5227833/Death-toll-Iran-protests-climbs-21-9-die.html#ixzz534IMCTCI

 

e pro-Western foreign policy of the regime it overthrew. Since then, Iran has oscillated between the two opposing tendencies of revolutionary ardour (promoting the Islamic revolution and struggling against non-Muslim tendencies abroad) and moves towards pragmatism (economic development and normalization of foreign relations). Khomeini’s 1989 fatwa calling for the killing of British citizen Salman Rushdie for his allegedly blasphemous book, The Satanic Verses, demonstrated the willingness of the Islamic revolutionaries to sacrifice trade and other ties with western countries to threaten an individual citizen of a foreign country living thousands of miles away. On the other hand, Khomeini’s death in 1989 led more pragmatic policies, with Presidents Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami leading the charge for more stable relations with the west as well as its surrounding, non-Revolutionary-Islamic neighbors—i.e., Saudi Arabia. Following the 2005 election of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Iran has returned to more a more hardline stance, frequently antagonizing the west and its neighbors while battling for control over the region.

In the immediate aftermath of the revolution, the Islamic Republic went to war against Saddam Hussein‘s Iraq after the latter launched a military offensive in the 1980s. With most foreign aid going to Iraq, Iran was forced to accept a ceasefire by 1988. Tensions with Iraq remained long after the war; it was not until the death of Saddam himself that Iran and Iraq have started improving their relations.

The Islamic Republic founded and sponsored the Lebanese group known as Hezbollah; its leaders were followers of Khomeini. The creation of Hezbollah, and its funding from Iran, was in response to the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. Since then, Hezbollah has served as both an ally and a surrogate for Iran during its conflict with America and Israel. Author Olivier Roy describes the Islamic Republic’s as having “lost most of its allure among non-Iranian Shia’s,” giving as examples the 1995 house arrest in Qom of the two sons of Grand Ayatollah Shirazi, spiritual leader of the Bahraini Shia; and the close cooperation between the Afghan Shia party Wahdat and the U.S. Army after November 2001.[7]

The Islamic Republic strongly supports the Palestinian cause. Government aid goes to everything from Palestinian hospitals to arms supplies. There is vigorous media publicity, an official “Quds (Jerusalem) Day”, and squares and streets named after Palestine crisscross Iranian cities. Some question whether the issue has domestic grassroots support, arguing that Iranians “lack emotional and cultural ties to Palestinians,”[8] or has been too costly in terms of opportunity cost compared to peaceful coexistence.[9]

Human development

Net Iranian migration (1979–2008). A positive value represents more people entering Iran than leaving the country.

Despite stagnation in the economy, Iran’s Human Development Index rating (including life expectancy, literacy, education, and standard of living) improved significantly in the years after the revolution, climbing from 0.569 in 1980 to 0.759 in 2007/8.[10] It now ranks 94th out of 177 countries with data.[11] This is approximately the same rate, as neighbor Turkey which has a somewhat higher HDI rating (0.775).[12] One factor in the HDI rise has been literacy rates among Iranian women which “rose from 28% to 80% between 1976 and 1996.”[13]

Although the Shah’s regime had created a popular and successful Literacy Corps and also worked to raise literacy rates,[14] the Islamic Republic based its educational reforms on Islamic principles. The Literacy Movement Organization (LMO), replaced the Literacy Corps following the revolution[15] and is credited with much of Iran’s continued success in reducing illiteracy from 52.5 per cent in 1976 to just 24 per cent, at the last count in 2002.[16]The movement has established over 2,000 community learning centers across the country, employed some 55,000 instructors, distributed 300 easy-to-read books and manuals, and provided literacy classes to a million people, men as well as women.[17][18] The increase in literacy “meant that for the first time in history most of the population, including Azeris, Kurds, Gilakis, and Moazanderanis, could converse and read in Persian.”[19]

In the field of health, maternal and infant mortality rates have been cut significantly.[20] Infant mortality per 1000 dropped from 104 to 25.[19]

In particular conditions improved in the countryside. The Reconstruction Jihad “extended roads, electricity, piped water, and most important of all, health clinics into villages. … turning peasants into farmers. Soon most farmers had access not only to roads, schools, … but also … radios, refrigerators, telephones, televisions, motorbikes, even pickup trucks. …on the eve of the revolution, life expectancy at birth had been less than 56; by the end of the century, it was near 70.”[19]

Economy

Under the Islamic Republic, Iran’s economy has been dominated by oil and gas exports which constituted 70% of government revenue and 80% of export earnings as of 2008.[21] It has a large public sector, with an estimated 60% of the economy directly controlled and centrally planned by the state.[22] A unique feature of Iran‘s economy is the large size of the religious foundations, or Bonyads, whose combined budgets are said to make up as much as half that of the central government.[22][23]

Top oil-producing countries
(million barrels per day)

Economic problems include the shattering of the Iranian oil sector and consequent loss of output from the revolution and Iran–Iraq War (Iran sustained economic losses estimated at $500 billion[24]), a soaring population over the same period, inefficiency in the state sector, dependence on petroleum exports,[25] and corruption.[26][27]

The constitution of the Islamic Republic calls for the state sector “to include all large-scale and mother industries, foreign trade”, natural resources and communication; and calls on the private sector to “supplement the … state and cooperative sectors.”[28][29]

The International Monetary Fund reports that Iran’s gross national income per capita (PPP model) more than doubled since the revolution despite strong population growth—one year after the revolution it was $4,295 and grew to $11,396 by 2010.[30]

However, complaining about the economy is said to have become “a national pastime” among Iranians.[31] According to international economic consultant Jahangir Amuzegar, as of 2003:

Despite a 100 percent rise in average annual oil income since the revolution, most indicators of economic welfare have steadily deteriorated. … Average inflation in the years after the revolution has been at least twice as high as during the 1970s, unemployment has been three times higher, and economic growth is two-thirds lower. As a result, Iran’s per capita income has declined by at least 30 percent since 1979. By official admission, more than 15 percent of the population now lives below the absolute poverty line, and private estimates run as high as 40 percent.[32]

Per capita income declines when the price of oil declines (per capita income reportedly fell at one point (1995) to 1/4 of what it was prior to the revolution);[33][34] Accumulated assets of the Iranian middle class—carpets, gold, apartments—that were acquired in the four-year boom after the 1973 oil price rise and served to cushion the fall in standards of living, have now reportedly “largely been sold off.”[35][36]

The poor have also exhibited dissatisfaction. Absolute poverty rose by nearly 45% during the first 6 years of the Islamic revolution[37] and on several occasions the mustazafin have rioted, protesting the demolition of their shantytowns and rising food prices. Disabled war veterans have demonstrated against mismanagement of the Foundation of the Disinherited.[38] Hardship has compelled some children to take odd jobs rather than go to school.[39]

A 2002 study leaked from Iran’s Interior Ministry, reported nearly 90% of respondents dissatisfied with the present government according to Amuzegar. Of this total, 28% wanted “fundamental” changes, 66% “gradual reforms.” 10% expressed satisfaction with the status quo.

According to British-Iranian scholar, Ali M. Ansari, “Iranians joke” that with the world’s second or third largest reserves of oil and natural gas, extensive deposits of coppergolduranium, as well as an educated and cohesive workforce, “they are blessed with all the facilities to be the industrial engine of the region, except good governance.”[40]

Corruption

Sahabi family (Ezzatollah Sahabi, Yadollah and Haleh Sahabi), active members of National party were imprisoned and Haleh was killed for their peaceful activism.

Corruption is a problem in the Islamic Republic.[26][27] According to some observers, its level compares unfavorably with pre-revolutionary days. Foreign journalist Robin Wright quotes a bazaari as saying “The clergy tries to keep itself clean. But you can’t-do anything anymore without paying off this mullah’s son or that mullah’s brother-in-law – and these days usually both.”

Bribery in Iran was increasingly becoming the biggest part of business deals—and a lot of other transactions too. Iranians called it “oiling the mustache,” and it was commonly practiced before the revolution, but payoffs then were usually a one-time thing of a known amount. Two decades after the revolution, even the smallest service called for bribes to several different parties.[41]

Emigration

Journalists report complaints that, “these days, if a student is lucky enough to study in the West, he will rarely come home. There are so few good jobs that everyone, from students to middle-aged engineers, is looking for a way out.”[42] An estimated “two to four million entrepreneurs, professionals, technicians, and skilled craftspeople (and their capital)” emigrated to other countries following the revolution,[43] and continue to do so at a rate of more than 150,000 a year. This flight of intellectual capital is estimated to come to almost $6 billion a year in growth opportunities, based on the average Iranian professional contributing $40,000 per year to gross capital formation.[citation needed]

Emigration from Iran, starting with young males fleeing from the Iran–Iraq War draft, is thought by some to be the feature of the Islamic Republic most resented by Iranians. According to Shirin Ebadi, “If you ask most Iranians what keener, what grievance, they nurture most bitterly against the Islamic Republic, it is the tearing apart of their families … had the revolutionaries tempered their wild radicalism, had they not replaced the Shah with a regime that prompted mass flight, their families would still be whole.”[44]

Society

While the revolution brought about some re-Islamisation of Iran, particularly in terms of personal appearance—beards, hijab—it has not prompted a reversal of some modernizing trends or a return to traditional patterns of family life, (such as polygamy and the extended family with numerous children).

Despite the lowering of the legal age of marriage for women fell to 9,[45] and the Ayatollah Khomeini’s support for early marriage for females,

It is recommended that one hurries in giving the husband to a daughter who has attained puberty, meaning that she is of the age of religious accountability. His Holiness, Sadegh [the 6th Imam] salutations to him, bade that it is one of a man’s good fortunes that his daughter does not see menses in his own house.[46]

the actual average age of marriage for women rose to 22 by 1996. Thus the age difference between husbands and wives in Iran actually fell between 1980 and 2000, from 7 to 2.1 years.[47] (The man’s average age at marriage has remained around 24.4 over the past 20 years, which means greater educational equality between spouses.)

Nor has Islamisation of family law lead to an increase in the number of polygamous families or more frequent divorces. Polygamy has remained at about 2% of permanent marriages during the past 40 years and the divorce rate has decreased slightly since the 1970s.[48]

Population growth was encouraged for the first nine years of the revolution, but in 1988 youth unemployment concerns prompted the government to do “an amazing U-turn” and Iran now has “one of the world’s most effective” family planning programs.[49]

After the Iranian revolution, Iranian women have continued to occupy high positions in the political system. In the late 1990s, Iranians sent more women to Iranian parliament than Americans sent to U.S. senate.[50]

Gharbzadegi (“westoxification”) or western cultural influence stubbornly remains, entering via (illegal) music recordings, videos, and satellite dishes,[51] despite government efforts. Compulsory hijab (veiling) for women has been given extensive police enforcement,[52]Shorts, necklaces, “glamorous” hairstyles, and neckties (in government buildings) are forbidden for men.[53][54] Western music is banned even more thoroughly,[55] but observers note it is nonetheless popular and widespread.[56] One post-revolutionary opinion poll found 61% of students in Tehran chose “Western artists” as their role models with only 17% choosing “Iran’s officials.”[57]

Human Rights

In the first five years of the Islamic Republic, during its consolidation, approximately 8000 political opponents were executed. Thousands of political prisoners were also executed in 1988. Like other revolutions before it, the Iranian Revolution took a higher toll on those who had participated in the revolution than those in the regime it overthrew.[58]

In recent years the killing of dissidents has been much less frequent and reported abuses are more likely to include harsh penalties for crimes; punishment of fornication, homosexuality, apostasy, poor hijab (covering the head for women); restrictions on freedom of speech, and the press, including the imprisonment of journalists; unequal treatment according to religion and gender; torture to extract repudiations by prisoners of their cause and comrades on video for propaganda purposes,[59] and allowing prisoners to die by withholding medical treatment.[60]

Religion

The funeral of Grand Ayatollah Hosein-Ali Montazeri who challenged the regime for several decades.

Iran is governed by Sharia law. It is one of the few Muslim countries where hijab for women is required by law. At the same time, it has “the lowest mosque attendance of any Islamic country,” according to Zohreh Soleimani of the BBC.[61] Iranian clergy have complained that more than 70% of the population do not perform their daily prayers and that less than 2% attend Friday mosques.[62]

For religious minorities, life has been mixed under the Islamic Republic. Khomeini also called for unity between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims (Sunni Muslims are the largest religious minority in Iran).[63] Pre-revolutionary statements by Khomeini were antagonistic towards Jews, but shortly after his return from exile in 1979, he issued a fatwa ordering that Jews and other minorities (except Baha’is) be treated well.[64][65] Non-Muslim religious minorities do not have equal rights in the Islamic Republic (For example, senior government posts are reserved for Muslims and Jewish, Christian and Zoroastrian schools must be run by Muslim principals[66]) but four of the 270 seats in parliament are reserved for three non-Islamic minority religions.

The 300,000 members of the Bahá’í Faith, are actively harassed. “Some 200 of whom have been executed and the rest forced to convert or subjected to the most horrendous disabilities.”[67] Starting in late 1979 the new government systematically targeted the leadership of the Bahá’í community by focusing on the Bahá’í leadership.[68]

Natural disasters

The 6.6 Mw Bam earthquake shook southeastern Iran with a maximum Mercalli intensity of IX (Violent), leaving more than 26,000 dead and 30,000 injured. The 7.4 Mw Manjil–Rudbar earthquake struck northern Iran with a maximum Mercalli intensity of X (Extreme), killing 35,000–50,000, and injuring 60,000–105,000.

Scientific development

Iran’s scientific progress is subject to many problems including funding, international sanctions, and management. However, in some areas such as medicinesurgerypharmacologystem cell research and theoretical physics (e.g. string theory),[69] Iranian scientists have found international reputation since the Iranian revolution. Nuclear technology and stem cell research were the two fields that have enjoyed special support from the central government and Iranian leadership since the revolution.

In 2005 Iran’s national science budget was less than $1 billion and had not been subject to any significant increase since 15 years ago.[70] But according to Science-Metrix, since 1990 Iran’s scientific production has had a rapid buildup, and Iran currently has the fastest growth rate in science and technology worldwide.[71]

Iran is among the international leaders of stem cell technology[72] and was the 10th country to produce embryonic human stem cells,[73] although in terms of articles per capita basis, it reportedly ranked 16th in the world.[74][75]

Khomeini’s reign

Ayatollah Khomeini was the ruler of (or at least dominant figure in) Iran for a decade, from the founding of the Islamic Republic in April 1979 until his death in mid-1989. During that time the revolution was being consolidated as a theocratic republic under Khomeini, and Iran was fighting a costly and bloody war with Iraq.

Islamic Revolution

The Islamic Republic of Iran began with the Iranian Revolution. The first major demonstrations to overthrow Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi began in January 1978.[76] The new theocratic Constitution — whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country — was approved in December 1979. In between, the Shah fled Iran in January 1979 after strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country, and on February 1, 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran to a greeting by several million Iranians.[77] The final collapse of the Pahlavi dynasty occurred shortly after on February 11 when Iran’s military declared itself “neutral” after guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting. Iran officially became the Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979, when Iranians overwhelmingly approved a national referendum to make it so.[78]

Initial international impact

The initial impact of the Islamic revolution around the world was tremendous. In the non-Muslim world it has changed the image of Islam, generating much interest in the politics and spirituality of Islam,[79] along with “fear and distrust towards Islam” and particularly the Islamic Republic and its founder.[80] In the Mideast and Muslim world, particularly in its early years, it triggered enormous enthusiasm and redoubled opposition to western intervention and influence. Islamist insurgents rose in Saudi Arabia (the 1979 week-long takeover of the Grand Mosque), Egypt (the 1981 machine-gunning of the Egyptian President Sadat), Syria (the Muslim Brotherhood rebellion in Hama), and Lebanon (the 1983 bombing of the American Embassy and French and American peace-keeping troops).[81]

Consolidation of the Revolution

Instability in Iran did not end with the creation of the Islamic Republic and remained high for a few years. The country’s economy and apparatus of government had collapsed. Military and security forces were in disarray. But by 1982[82] (or 1983)[83] Khomeini and his supporters had crushed the rival factions and consolidated power.

Constitution

The first draft of the constitution for the Islamic Republic contained a conventional president and parliament but its only theocratic element was a Guardian Council to veto unIslamic legislation.[84] However, in the summer of 1979 an Assembly of Experts for Constitution, dominated by Khomeini supporters, was elected. Their new draft gave the guardians much more power and added a powerful post of guardian jurist ruler intended for Khomeini.[85] The new constitution was opposed by non-theocratic groups, both secular and Islamic, and set for approval by referendum in December 1979.

Hostage crisis

US hostages were released after 444 days of detention in Tehran.

An event that helped pass the constitution, radicalize the revolution and strengthen its anti-American stance, was the Iran hostage crisis. On November 4, 1979, Iranian students seized the U.S. embassy in Tehran holding 52 embassy employees hostage for 444 days. The Carter administration severed diplomatic relations and imposed economic sanctions on April 7, 1980, and later that month unsuccessfully attempted a rescue that further enhanced Khomeini’s prestige in Iran. On May 24 the International Court of Justice called for the hostages to be released. Finally, the hostages were released 20 January 1981, by agreement of the Carter Administration, see Algiers Accords Jan. 19, 1981. The crisis also marked the beginning of American legal action, or sanctions, that economically separated Iran from America. Sanctions blocked all property within US jurisdiction owned by the Central Bank and Government of Iran.[86]

Suppression of opposition

Revolutionary factions disagreed on the shape of the new Iran. Those who thought the Shah would be replaced by a democratic government soon found Khomeini disagreed. In early March 1979, he announced, “do not use this term, ‘democratic.’ That is the Western style.”[87]

In succession the National Democratic Front was banned in August 1979, the provisional government was disempowered in November, the Muslim People’s Republican Party banned in January 1980, the People’s Mujahedin of Iran guerrillas came under attack in February 1980, a purge of universities was begun in March 1980, and leftist President Abolhassan Banisadr was impeached in June 1981.

Explanations for why Khomeini supporters were successful in crushing the opposition include lack of unity in the opposition. According to Asghar Schirazi, the moderates lacked ambition and were not well organized, while the radicals (such People’s Mujahedin of Iranor PMOI) were “unrealistic” about the conservatism of the Iranian masses and unprepared to work with moderates to fight against theocracy. Moderate Islamists, such as Banisadr, were “credulous and submissive” towards Khomeini.[88]

Terrorist attacks

The ouster of President Banisadr did not put an immediate end to the opposition but moved it to terror. Hundreds of PMOI supporters and members were killed from 1979 to 1981, and some 3,000 were arrested,[89] but unlike other opposition is driven underground by the regime, the PMOI was able to retaliate.

On 28 June 1981, bombs were detonated at the headquarters of the since-dissolved Islamic Republic Party. Around 70 high-ranking officials, including Chief Justice Mohammad Beheshti (who was the second most powerful figure in the revolution after Ayatollah Khomeini at the time), cabinet members, and members of parliament, were killed. The PMOI never publicly confirmed or denied any responsibility for the deed, but only stated the attack was `a natural and necessary reaction to the regime’s atrocities.` Khomeini did accuse them of responsibility and, according to BBC journalist Baqer Moin, the PMOI were “generally perceived as the culprits” for it in Iran.[90] Two months later on August 30, another bomb was detonated killing President Rajai and Premier Mohammad Javad Bahonar. A member of the PMOI, Mas’ud Kashmiri, was announced as the perpetrator, and according to regime reports came close to killing the entire government including Khomeini.[91] The reaction following both bombings was intense with thousands of arrests and hundreds of executions of PMOI and other leftist groups,[92] but “assassinations of leading officials and active supporters of the regime by the PMOI were to continue for the next year or two.”[93]

Iran–Iraq War

The eight-year-long Iran–Iraq War (September 1980 – August 1988) was the most important international event for the first decade of the Islamic Republic and possibly for its history so far. It helped to strengthen the revolution although it cost Iran much in lives and treasure.

Shortly after the success of the revolution, revolutionary leader Ruhollah Khomeini began calling for Islamic revolutions across the Muslim world, including Iran’s Arab neighbor Iraq,[94] the one large state besides Iran in the Gulf with a Shia Muslim majority population. The leadership in Tehran believed that they would launch a massive Shiite uprising across the Middle East and after Iraq’s defeat, march on Israel and destroy it.

The war began with Iraq‘s invasion of Iran, in an attempt by Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein to take advantage of the perceived post-revolutionary military weakness in Iran and the Revolution’s unpopularity with Western governments. Much of the top leadership of Iran’s once-strong Iranian military had been executed. Saddam sought to expand Iraq’s access to the Persian Gulf and the oil reserves in Khuzestan (which also only has a substantial Arab population), and to undermine Iranian Islamic revolutionary attempts to incite the Shi’a majority of his country. The Iraqis used the WMDs against Iranian soldiers. Iranians also believe Saddam invaded with the encouragement of the United StatesSaudi Arabia and other countries.

A combination of fierce resistance by Iranians and military incompetence by Iraqi forces soon stalled the Iraqi advance and by early 1982 Iran regained almost all the territory lost to the invasion. The invasion rallied Iranians behind the new regime, enhancing Khomeini’s stature and allowed him to consolidate and stabilize his leadership. After this reversal, Khomeini refused an Iraqi offer of a truce, declaring “the regime in Baghdad must fall and must be replaced by the Islamic Republic.”[95][96]

The war continued for another six years under the slogans `War, War until Victory,` and `The Road to Jerusalem Goes through Baghdad,`[97] but other countries, particularly the Soviet Union gave crucial aid to Iraq. As the costs mounted and Iranian morale waned, Khomeini finally accepted a truce called for by UN Security Council Resolution 598. By 1988, Iran was nearly bankrupted by the ruinous costs of the war and its manpower pool also exhausted. The Iranian Army in desperation began resorting to using boys as young as 14 in human wave attacks against Iraqi machine gun emplacements. Khomeini remarked that agreeing to peace with Iraq was “like drinking hemlock”, but there was no other choice.[98] Although neither borders nor regimes were changed[99] the war helped to `awaken the people and to fight the problems that threaten the revolution,` according to future president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.[100] An estimated 200,000 Iranians were killed[101] and the war is estimated to have cost Iran $627 billion in total direct and indirect charges (in 1990 dollars).[102]

Early laws of the Islamic Republic

The new regime undid the Shah’s old Family Protection Law, lowering the marriage age for girls back to nine and allowed husbands to divorce wives with the Triple talaq, without court permission. It purged women from the judiciary and secular teachers from the educational system. It removed Baha’is from government positions, closed down Baha’i Centers, and arrested and even executed their leaders. A strict “Islamic code of public appearance” was enforced—men were discouraged from wearing ties, women were obliged to wear either scarf and long coats or preferably the full chador.[103]

Economy

Iran’s economy suffered during the first decade following the revolution. Its currency, the rial, fell from 7 to the dollar before the revolution, to 1749 to the dollar in 1989.[104] The revolution also is said to have put an end to the influence of “the notables”, and created a very large public sector of the economy, when the government “nationalizing their enterprises in order to keep their employees working… the state ended up with more than 2000 factories many of them operating in the red.”[105]

Human Rights

In its early years, the revolutionary regime was especially criticized for its human rights record.[106] In the first 28 months of the Islamic Republic, between February 1979 and June 1981, revolutionary courts executed 497 political opponents as “counterrevolutionaries”, and “sowers of corruption on earth” (Mofsed-e-filarz). In the next four years from June 1981 until June 1985, the courts sentenced more than 8000 opponents to death.[107] After a relative lull, thousands of political prisoners were executed in 1988. Like other revolutions before it, the Iranian Revolution took a higher toll on those who had participated in the revolution than those in the regime it overthrew.[58]

Rafsanjani administration

Ideological changes by fatwa and constitution

Two major changes in the ideological underpinnings of the Islamic Republic occurred toward the end of Khomeini’s reign. In January 1988, he issued an edict declaring that the Islamic “Government is among the most important divine injunctions and has priority over all peripheral divine orders … even prayers, fasting and the Hajj.”[108] In April of the next year he decreed a task force to revise the country’s constitution to separate the post of Supreme Leader of Iran from that of Shia marja, (the `highest source of religious emulation`), since he found none of Marja to be suitable successors as none had given strong support for his policies.[109] The amendments were drafted and approved by the public about one month after Khomeini’s death (1989 July 9). They paved the way for Ali Khamenei – a long time lieutenant of Khomeini, but a relatively low ranking cleric – to be Khomeini’s successor as Supreme Leader,[110] but to critics they undermined the “intellectual foundations” of the Islamic Republic theocracy,[111][112] breaking “the charismatic bond between leader and followers.”[113]

Political struggle

The first post-war decade in Iran has been described as a time of pragmatism, and an `economy-first` policy.[114] According to Shirin Ebadi, “about two years into the postwar period, the Islamic Republic quietly changed course. … It was fairly clear by then that the Shiarevolution would not be sweeping the region.”[115]

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani was elected president shortly after Khomeini’s death, and has been described as less revolutionary and “isolationist” than his rivals — “economically liberal, politically authoritarian, and philosophically traditional.”[116] (He served from August 17, 1989, to August 1997.) While Leader Khamenei and the Council of Guardians generally supported these policies, in the parliament radical deputies initially had control, outnumbered Rafsanjani’s “pragmatic-conservative camp” 90 to 160.[117]

The two groups differed strongly over economic and foreign policy, with radicals tending to support mass political participation and state control of the economy, and oppose normalization of relations with the West.[118] Conservatives used the power to disqualification candidates from running for office to deal with this problem. “The Council of Guardians disqualified nearly all radical candidates from the fall 1990 Assembly of Experts elections because they had failed to pass written and oral tests in Islamic jurisprudence.”[119] In the winter and spring of 1992 nearly one-third of the 3150 candidates for the 1992 election for the parliament were rejected, including 39 incumbents. Leading radicals such as Khalkhali, Nabvi, Bayat, and Hajjat al-Islam Hadi Ghaffari were sent packing because they lacked the “proper Islamic credentials.”[120]

In late 1992 Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance Seyed Mohammad Khatami and director of the Voice and Vision Broadcasting company Mohammad Hashemi Rafsanjani (brother of the president) were both forced out. By 1994 “hundreds of intellectuals and supposed dissidents were in prison and some had been executed.” These purges cleared the regime of opponents but are thought to have set the stage for the reform movement, as exiled radicals warmed to the “liberal” values of freedom of speech, assembly, due process, etc.[120]

Persian Gulf War

Iraq invaded and overran Kuwait on August 2, 1990, causing a multinational coalition of UN forces to be assembled in response. Although Iran criticized the invasion and supported sanctions against its neighbor, it refused any active participation in the war, not surprising given the country’s anti-Western attitudes and state of exhaustion from the recent conflict with its neighbor. As a result of the war and its aftermath, more than one million Kurds crossed the Iraqi border into Iran as refugees.

Economy

Iran’s total debt service as percent of exports of goods services and income increased sixfold between 1990 and 1997.

Despite the “economy first” focus, Iran suffered serious economic problems during the Rafsanjani era. According to economist Bijan Khajehpour, economic growth in Iran between 1989 and 1994 was “mainly financed through the accumulation of some $30 billion in foreign debt. In 1993, the ratio of Iran’s foreign debt to the country’s GDP reached 38%, which was alarming.”[121] A lack of foreign investment along with a fall in oil prices from $20 to $12 per barrel added to this external debt, and triggered an economic recession. The Iranian rial plummeted from 1749 to 6400 to the dollar in 1995. Unemployment reached 30%. The price of sugar, rice, and butter rose threefold, and that of bread sixfold.[104]

In part this economic downturn came from American economic sanctions leveled in 1995, when America suspended all trade with Iran, accusing Iran of supporting terrorist groups and attempting to develop nuclear weapons. The sanctions, in turn, may be traceable to the earlier hostage crisis and the enmity of the US government which continued to see Iran as a major regional threat both to America and Israel.[104]

Birth control

A new policy regarded as a success of the new government was its promotion of birth control. In 1989, the government, “having previously encouraged population growth, reversed gears and declared that Islam favored families with only two children”. Birth control clinics were opened – especially for women. Condoms and pills were distributed. Subsidies to large families were cut. Sex education was introduced into the school curriculum, mandatory classes for newlyweds were held.[122])

Khatami administration

Between March 2001 and April 2003, the TSE index (Topix) bucked the trend by going up nearly 80%.[123]

The eight years of Mohammad Khatami‘s two terms as president in 1997–2005 are sometimes called Iran’s Reform Era.[124]

Khatami based his campaign on a reform program promising a more democratic and tolerant society, promotion of civil society, the rule of law and improvement of social rights.[125][126] This included city council elections, adherence to Iran’s constitution, freedom to criticize high ranking authorities – including the supreme leader, permission to operate newspapers of a wide range of political views, reopening the embassies of all European countries, reorganizing the Ministry of Intelligence of Iran after the Iran’s Chain Murders of Intellectuals, initiating a dialogue between people of different faith inside and outside Iran, also called “Dialogue Among Civilizations.”

Iran’s large youth demographic (by 1995, about half of the country’s 60.5 million people had not been born after the Islamic Revolution) is one of Khatami’s bases of support.

Political and cultural changes

At first, the new era saw significant liberalization. The number of daily newspapers published in Iran increased from five to twenty-six. Journal and book publishing also soared. Iran’s film industry boomed under the Khatami regime and Iranian films won prizes at Cannes, and Venice.[127] Local elections promised in the Islamic Republic’s constitution but delayed for over a decade were held for towns, villages, and hamlets and the number of elected officials in Iran increased from 400 to almost 200,000.[128]

Conservative reaction

After taking office, Khatami faced fierce opposition from his powerful opponents within the unelected institutions of the state which he had no legal power over, and this led to repeated clashes between his government and these institutions (including the Guardian Council, the state radio, and television, the police, the armed forces, the judiciary, the prisons, etc.).

In 1999, new curbs were put on the press. Courts banned more than 60 newspapers.[127] Important allies of President Khatami were arrested, tried and imprisoned on what outside observers considered “trumped up”[129] or ideological grounds. Tehran mayorGholamhossein Karbaschi was tried on corruption charges and Interior Minister Abdollah Nouri for “sacrilege” – despite their credentials as activists in the Islamic revolution.[citation needed] In 2002 history professor and reformist activist Hashem Aghajari was sentenced to death for apostasy for calling for “Islamic Protestantism” and reform in Islam.[130]

In July 1999 conservatives closed the reformist newspaper, Salam, and attacked a Tehran University student dormitory after students protested the closing. Prodemocracy student demonstrations erupted at Tehran University and other urban campuses. These were followed by a wave of counter-demonstrations by conservative factions.

Reformers won a substantial victory in Feb. 2000, parliamentary elections, capturing about two-thirds of the seats, but conservative elements in the government forced the closure of the reformist press. Attempts by parliament to repeal restrictive press laws were forbidden by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Despite these conditions, President Khatami was overwhelming re-elected in June 2001. Tensions between reformers in parliament and conservatives in the judiciary and the Guardian Council, over both social and economic changes, increased after Khatami’s reelection.

Foreign policy

Military expenditures (% GDP)

Khatami worked to improve relations with other countries visiting many other countries and holding a dialogue between civilizations and encouraged foreigners to invest in Iran. He announced Iran would accept a two-state solution for Palestine if Palestinians agreed to one, relaxed restrictions on the Bahais, and assured Britain Iran would not implement the fatwa against Salman Rushdie.[131] Several European Union countries began renewing economic ties with Iran in the late 1990s, and trade and investment increased. In 1998, Britain re-established diplomatic relations with Iran, broken since the 1979 revolution. The United States loosened its economic embargo, but it continued to block more normalized relations, arguing that the country had been implicated in international terrorism and was developing a nuclear weapons capacity. In his State of the Union Address, United States President George W. Bush labeled Iran, along with Iraq and North Korea, as an “Axis of evil.”

Tensions with the United States increased after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in March 2003, as U.S. officials increasingly denounced Iran for pursuing the alleged development of nuclear weapons.

The reform era ended with the conservatives defeat of Iranian reformists in the elections of 2003, 2004 and 2005 – the local, parliamentary, and presidential elections. According to at least one observer, the reformists were defeated not so much by a growth of support for conservative Islamist policies as by division within the reformist movement and the banning of many reform candidates which discouraged pro-reform voters from voting.[5]

Ahmadinejad’s administration

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected to the presidency twice, in 2005 and 2009. Ahmadinejad ran for office as a conservative populist pledging to fight corruption, defend the interests of the poor, and strengthen Iran’s national security.[132] In 2005 he defeated former president Rafsanjani by a wide margin in the runoff, his victory credited to the popularity of his economic promises and a very low reformist voter turnout compared to the 1997 and 2001 elections.[132] This victory gave conservatives control of all branches of Iran’s government.

His administration has been marked by controversy over his outspoken pronouncements against American “arrogance” and “imperialism,” and description of the state of Israel as a “fabricated entity … doomed to go,”[133] and over high unemployment and inflation opponents blamed on his populist economic policies of cheap loans for small businesses, and generous subsidies on petrol and food.[134]

In 2009 Ahmadinejad’s victory was hotly disputed and marred by large protests that formed the “greatest domestic challenge” to the leadership of the Islamic Republic “in 30 years”,[135] as well as clashes with parliament.[136] Despite high turnout and large enthusiastic crowds for reformist opponent Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad was officially declared to have won by a 2–1 margin against three opponents. Allegations of voting irregularities and protest by Mousavi his supporters were immediate and continued off and on into 2011. Some 36–72 were killed and 4000 arrested.[137][138][138] Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared Ahmadinejad’s victory a “divine assessment”[139] and called for unity. He and others Islamic officials blamed foreign powers for fomenting the protest.[140]

However, by late 2010 several sources detected a “growing rift” between Ahmadinejad, and Khamenei and his supporters,[141] with talk of impeachment of Ahmadinejad.[142] The dispute centered on Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei, a top adviser and close confidant of Ahmadinejad,[143] and accused leader of a “deviant current”[144] opposing greater involvement of clerics in politics.[145]

Foreign relations

Although functions such as the appointment of the commanders of the armed forces and the members of national security councils are handled by the Supreme Leader and not by Iran’s president, Ahmadinejad gained considerable international attention for his foreign policy. Under Ahmadinejad, Iran’s strong ties with the Republic of Syria and Hezbollah of Lebanon continued, and new relationships with predominantly Shia neighbor Iraq and fellow opponent of U.S. foreign policy Hugo Chavez of Venezuela were developed.

Ahmadinejad’s outspoken pronouncements in foreign affairs included personal letters to a number of world leaders including one to American president George W. Bush inviting him to “monotheism and justice”,[146] an open letter to the American people,[147] the declaration that there were no homosexuals in Iran,[148] an expression of happiness at the 2008 global economic crisis which would “put an end to liberal economy”.[149]

Hezbollah’s dependence on Iran for military and financial aid is not universally supported in Iran. The 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War exposed the world to a number of weapons in Hezbollah possession said to be Iranian imports.[citation needed]

Controversy concerning remarks about Israel

President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad also made several controversial statements about the Holocaust and Israel, and was quoted in foreign media sources as saying “Israel should be wiped off the map.”[150] Iran’s foreign minister denied that Tehran wanted to see Israel“wiped off the map,” saying “Ahmadinejad had been misunderstood.” It was asserted that the correct translation of Ahmadinejad’s remark was, “the regime currently occupying Jerusalem will be erased from the pages of time.” Reviewing the controversy over the translation, New York Times deputy foreign editor Ethan Bronner observed that “all official translations” of the comments, including the foreign ministry and president’s office, “refer to wiping Israel away”.[151] His comments were strongly criticized by a number of foreign leaders.[152][153]

Iran’s stated policy on Israel is to urge a one-state solution through a countrywide referendum in which a government would be elected that all Palestinians and all Israelis would jointly vote for; which would normally be an end to the “Zionist state”. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei, rejecting any attack on Israel, called for a referendum in Palestine. Ahmadinejad himself has also repeatedly called for such solution.[154][155][156][157] Moreover, Khamenei’s main advisor in foreign policy, Ali Akbar Velayati, said that Holocaust was a genocide and a historical reality.[158] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other prominent officials have however on other occasion called for the destruction of Israel.[159]

Controversy about Iran’s nuclear program

After, in August 2005, Iran resumed converting raw uranium into gas, a necessary step for enrichment, the IAEA passed a resolution that accused Iran of failing to comply with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and called for the agency to report Iran to the UN Security Council. The timetable for the reporting, however, was left undetermined. Iran’s stated position is that it is in full compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, that it has allowed the IAEA inspections beyond what is required, and that it has no ambitions to build atomic weapons.

In February 2004, elections, conservatives won control of parliament, securing some two-thirds of the seats. Many Iranians, however, were unhappy with the failure of the current parliament to achieve any significant reforms or diminish the influence of the hardliners. In mid-2004 Iran began resuming the processing of nuclear fuel as part of its plan to achieve self-sufficiency in civilian nuclear power production, stating that the negotiations with European Union nations had failed to bring access to the advanced nuclear technologythat was promised. The action was denounced by the United States as one which would give Iran the capability to develop nuclear weapons. The IAEA said that there was no evidence that Iran was seeking to develop such arms. However, the IAEA also called for Iran to abandon its plans to produce enriched uranium. In November 2004, Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment but subsequently indicated that it would not be held to the suspension if the negotiations the EU nations failed.

During an October 2013 meeting, however, Iran agreed, in negotiations with several Western European nations, to toughen international inspections of its nuclear installations.[160] Nonetheless, the international community continued to express concerns over Iran’s nuclear program. At least five Iranian nuclear scientists during 2010 and 2011 had been killed, by unknown attackers.[161]

Economy

Ahmadinejad’s populist economic policies of cheap loans for small businesses, and generous subsidies on petrol and food were helped by soaring petroleum export revenues until the Global financial crisis of 2008.[134]

Corruption

President Ahmadinejad has vouched to fight “economic Mafia” at all echelons of government.[162] President Ahmadinejad has also proposed that lawmakers consider a bill, based on which the wealth and property of all officials who have held high governmental posts since 1979 could be investigated.[163]

According to Farda newspaper, the difference between President Ahmadinejad administration’s revenues and the amount deposited with the Central Bank of Iran exceeds $66 billion.[164] This is a large number as it is equal one-tenth of Iran’s total oil revenuessince the 1979 revolution. This amount is broken down as follows:

  • $35 billion in imported goods (2005–2009),
  • $25 billion in oil revenues (2005–2008),[165]
  • $2.6 billion in non-oil export revenues,
  • $3 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

Vice President for Executive Affairs Ali Saeedlou said in 2008 that “mafia groups” in Iran are trying to divert public opinion away from the government’s determination to fight economic corruption by creating impediments, spreading rumors and promoting despair in the society.[166][167]

In 2010, more than 230 lawmakers in a letter to Judiciary Chief Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani said it is the duty of his organization to start from the top echelons of power in the drive against corruption. The letter added,

“It is the duty of the judiciary to start from higher echelons of power in this challenging but sacred drive. It does not make a difference whether the suspect is a high-ranking official or kith and kin of the officialdom. The legislators assure the people that they will endorse this Jihad of the judiciary alongside the Leader and people.”[168][169]

Controversies over economic policy

In June 2006, 50 Iranian economists wrote a letter to Ahmadinejad that criticized his price interventions to stabilize prices of goods, cement, government services, and his decree issued by the High Labor Council and the Ministry of Labor that proposed an increase of workers’ salaries by 40 percent. Ahmadinejad publicly responded harshly to the letter and denounced the accusations.[170][171]

In July 2007, Ahmadinejad ordered the dissolution of the Management and Planning Organisation of Iran, a relatively independent planning body with a supervisory role in addition to its responsibility to allocate the national budget,[172] and replaced it with a new budget planning body directly under his control, a move that may give him a freer hand to implement populist policies.[173][174]

In November 2008, a group of 60 Iranian economists condemned Ahmadinejad’s economic policies, saying Iran faces deep economic problems, including stunted growth, double-digit inflation, and widespread unemployment, and must drastically change course. It also criticized Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy calling it “tension-creating” and saying it has “scared off foreign investment and inflicted heavy damage” on the economy. Ahmadinejad replied that Iran has been “least affected by this international financial crisis.”[175]

2007 Gas Rationing Plan in Iran

In 2007, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s cabinet launched the Gas Rationing Plan to reduce the country’s fuel consumption. Although Iran is one of the world’s largest producers of petroleummismanagementkleptocracy, rapid increases in demand and limited refining capacity has forced the country to import about 40% of its gasoline, at an annual cost of up to $7 billion.[176][177]

Domestic policy

Human Rights

According to the group Human Rights Watch, Iran’s human rights record “has deteriorated markedly” under the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Beginning in 2005, the number of offenders executed increased from 86 in 2005 to 317 in 2007. Months-long arbitrary detentions of “peaceful activists, journalists, students, and human rights defenders” and often charged with “acting against national security,” has intensified.[178]

Population, cultural and women’s issues

In April 2007, the Tehran police began the most fierce crackdown on “bad hijab” in more than a decade. In the capital Tehran thousands of Iranian women were cautioned over their poor Islamic dress and several hundred arrested.[52] In 2011, an estimated 70,000 police in Tehran alone, patrolled for clothing and hair infractions.[179] As of 2011, men are barred from wearing necklaces, “glamorous” hairstyles, ponytails, and shorts.[53] Neckties are forbidden in the holy city of Qom.[53] After a leading cleric (Hojatoleslam Gholamreza Hassani) issued a fatwa against keeping dogs as pets, a crackdown on dog ownership commenced.[180]

Several controversial proposals by President Ahmadinejad and conservatives have not come to fruition. Plans to encourage larger families,[181] to encourage polygamy by permitting it despite the opposition of a husband’s first wife; and to put a tax on Mahriyeh—a stipulated sum that a groom agrees to give or owe to his bride which is seen by many women “as a financial safety net in the event a husband leaves the marriage and is not forced to pay alimony”[182][183]—have not gone anywhere.

2009 election controversy

Ahmadinejad’s 2009 election victory was hotly disputed and marred by large protests that formed the “greatest domestic challenge” to the leadership of the Islamic Republic “in 30 years”.[135] Despite high turnout and large enthusiastic crowds for reformist opponent Mir-Hossein Mousavi, Ahmadinejad was officially declared to have won by a 2–1 margin against three opponents. Allegations of voting irregularities and protest by Mousavi his supporters were immediate and by 1 July 2009 1000 people had been arrested and 20 killed in street demonstrations.[184] Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and others Islamic officials blamed foreign powers for fomenting the protest.[140] However, according to World Public Opinion (a United States poll), the protest does not mean Iran is in a “pre-revolutionary” situation as a WPO poll of Iranians taken in early September 2009 found high levels of satisfaction with the regime. 80% of the Iranians respondents said President Ahmadinejad was honest, 64% expressed a lot of confidence in him, and nine in ten said they were satisfied with Iran’s system of government.[185]

Public opinion

According to the (U.S.) International Peace Institute‘s 2010-poll conducted in Persian by a representative sample of the Iranian people:[186]

  • Iranians are divided on the government‘s performance.
  • Dissatisfied with the economy.
  • Worry over sanctions and isolation.
  • Want to focus on domestic affairs.
  • Favor closer ties to the West.
  • Rising tensions sparked hostility toward the US, Europe, and U.N.
  • Favor nuclear arms and do not want to back deals to halt enrichment.
  • Independent polls do not contradict official turnout of 2009 election, which gave around 60% of the vote to Ahmadinejad.

Post election of Rouhani in 2013

Hassan Rouhani was elected as President of Iran on 12 June 2013 and took office on 3 August. He is known as a moderate left-leaner, supported by reformists in the election. He has open ideas in the area of economics and a high-level foreign policy, as he served as a diplomat before his election. He has moved quickly to engage in diplomatic negotiations with Western countries, seeking the lifting of crippling economic sanctions on oil exports in exchange for Iran’s cooperation with UN treaties regarding the development of nuclear weapons.

See also

References

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

 

 

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Story 1: Iran’s Government Blocks Internet as Third Day of Economic Protests Against High Unemployment and Prices and Corrupt Dictatorship Continues Across Islamic Republic of Iran — Eighth Anniversary of Green Revolution — Videos

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Story 1: Iran’s Government Blocks Internet as Third Day of Economic Protests Against High Unemployment and Prices Continues Across Islamic Republic of Iran — Videos

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New economic protests in Tehran challenge Iran’s government

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A wave of spontaneous protests over Iran’s weak economy swept into Tehran on Saturday, with college students and others chanting against the government just hours after hard-liners held their own rally in support of the Islamic Republic’s clerical establishment.

The demonstrations appear to be the largest to strike the Islamic Republic since the protests that followed the country’s disputed 2009 presidential election.

Thousands already have taken to the streets of cities across Iran, beginning at first on Thursday in Mashhad, the country’s second-largest city and a holy site for Shiite pilgrims.

The protests in the Iranian capital, as well as U.S. President Donald Trump tweeting about them, raised the stakes. It also apparently forced state television to break its silence, acknowledging it hadn’t reported on them on orders from security officials.

“Counterrevolution groups and foreign media are continuing their organized efforts to misuse the people’s economic and livelihood problems and their legitimate demands to provide an opportunity for unlawful gatherings and possibly chaos,” state TV said.

The protests appear sparked by social media posts and a surge in prices of basic food supplies, like eggs and poultry. Officials and state media made a point Saturday of saying Iranians have the right to protest and have their voices heard on social issues.

Amateur video emerged on Saturday showing large protests in the central Iranian city of Hojedk. The footage showed protesters throwing stones at security officials and chanting “down with dictator”. (Dec. 30)

However, protesters in Tehran on Saturday chanted against high-ranking government officials and made other political statements, according to the semi-official Fars news agency. Hundreds of students and others joined a new economic protest at Tehran University, with riot police massing at the school’s gates as they shut down surrounding roads.

Fars also said protests on Friday also struck Qom, a city that is the world’s foremost center for Shiite Islamic scholarship and home to a major Shiite shrine.

Social media videos purport to show clashes between protesters and police in several areas. At least 50 protesters have been arrested since Thursday, authorities said. State TV also said some protesters chanted the name of Iran’s one-time shah, who fled into exile just before its 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Telecommunications Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi send a message by Twitter to the CEO of messaging service Telegram, Pavel Durov, saying: “A telegram channel is encouraging hateful conduct, use Molotov cocktails, armed uprising, and social unrest.” Telegram responded saying it had suspended the account.

“A Telegram channel (amadnews) started to instruct their subscribers to use Molotov cocktails against police and got suspended due to our ‘no calls for violence’ rule. Be careful – there are lines one shouldn’t cross.” Durov tweeted.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted the deputy commander of Tehran’s Revolutionary Guard base, Brig. Gen. Ismail Kowsari, as saying: “Peace has returned to city of Tehran and its surroundings.” He added that if inflation was the reason the protesters took to the streets they should not have destroyed property, according to the report.

The Semi-official ILNA news agency reported on Saturday that the security deputy of Tehran’s governor, Mohsen Hamedani, said that Tehran’s provincial security council held a meeting to address the protests, but that its decisions were “classified.”

Earlier Saturday, hard-liners rallied across the country to support Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and others. The rallies, scheduled weeks earlier, commemorated a mass 2009 pro-government rally challenging those who rejected the re-election of hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad amid fraud allegations.

State TV aired live the pro-government “9 Dey Epic” rallies, named for the date on the Iranian calendar the 2009 protests took place. The footage showed people waving flags and carrying banners bearing Khamenei’s image.

In Tehran, some 4,000 people gathered at the Musalla prayer ground in central Tehran for the rally. They called for criminal trials for Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mahdi Karroubi, leaders in the 2009 protests who have been under house arrest since 2011. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose administration struck the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, campaigned on freeing the men, though they remain held.

Mohsen Araki, a Shiite cleric who serves in Iran’s Assembly of Experts, praised Rouhani’s efforts at improving the economy. However, he said Rouhani needed to do more to challenge “enemy pressures.”

“We must go back to the pre-nuclear deal situation,” Araki said. “The enemy has not kept with its commitments.”

Ali Ahmadi, a pro-government demonstrator, blamed the U.S for all of Iran’s economic problems.

“They always say that we are supporting Iranian people, but who should pay the costs?” Ahmadi asked.

Iran’s economy has improved since the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the end of some of the international sanctions that crippled its economy. Tehran now sells its oil on the global market and has signed deals for tens of billions of dollars of Western aircraft.

That improvement has not reached the average Iranian, however. Unemployment remains high. Official inflation has crept up to 10 percent again. A recent increase in egg and poultry prices by as much as 40 percent, which a government spokesman has blamed on a cull over avian flu fears, appears to have been the spark for the economic protests.

While police have arrested some protesters, the Revolutionary Guard and its affiliates have not intervened as they have in other unauthorized demonstrations since the 2009 election. The economic protests initially just put pressure on Rouhani’s administration.

Trump tweeted out support for the protests Saturday.

“The entire world understands that the good people of Iran want change, and, other than the vast military power of the United States, that Iran’s people are what their leaders fear the most….” he tweeted. “Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever, and the day will come when the Iranian people will face a choice. The world is watching!”

It’s unclear what effect Trump’s support would have. Iranians already are largely skeptical of him over his refusal to re-certify the nuclear deal and Iran being included in his travel bans. Trump’s insistence in an October speech on using the term “Arabian Gulf” in place of the Persian Gulf also has also riled the Iranian public.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments in June to Congress saying American is working toward “support of those elements inside of Iran that would lead to a peaceful transition of that government” has been used by Iran’s government of a sign of foreign interference in its internal politics.

The State Department issued a statement Friday supporting the protests, referencing Tillerson’s earlier comments.

“Iran’s leaders have turned a wealthy country with a rich history and culture into an economically depleted rogue state whose chief exports are violence, bloodshed and chaos,” the statement said.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry dismissed the comments.

“The noble Iranian nation never pays heed to the opportunist and hypocritical mottos chanted by the U.S. officials and their interfering allegations on domestic developments in the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the state-run IRNA news agency quoted ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi as saying.

___

Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

https://apnews.com/ce07ad7aea0a4d1a86f9c90f6104a1ba/Iran-hard-liners-rally-as-new-protests-challenge-government

‘Death to the dictator’: Thousands of protesters in Iran attack president and mullahs in second day of clashes as demonstrations spread to eight cities

  • Videos show protesters chanting ‘Death to the dictator’ and ‘Death to Rouhani’
  • Police said 52 people have been arrested as riot police fired tear gas into crowds
  • In one clip, mullah is chanted at aggressively as he walks through angry group
  • Last major demonstrations in Iran were over the disputed 2009 general election 

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in Iran to demonstrate against the country’s president, mullahs and price rises for the second day.

Videos show crowds chanting ‘Death to the dictator’ and ‘Death to Rouhani’ across the Islamic republic – including Iran’s holy second city, Mashhad – as the protests spread to at least eight other cities.

State media said 52 people have been arrested, with footage recorded by protesters yesterday showing tear gas being thrown into crowds by riot police.

In one clip, a mullah – an Islamic cleric and representative of the feared religious class which runs theocratic Iran – is chanted at aggressively as he walks through a group of protesters.

State media said 52 people have been arrested, with footage recorded by protesters yesterday showing tear gas being thrown into crowds by riot police

The protests have spread across the country, including to Yazd, Birjand, Kashmar and Shahroud

Shocking footage shows police in Iran violently kick protestors

Videos show crowds chanting ‘Death to the dictator’ and ‘Death to Rouhani’ in cities across the Islamic republic – including Iran’s holy second city, Mashhad – as the protests spread to at least eight cities

Police forces use water cannons on protesters in Iran
Protesters have been sprayed with water cannon by police as the demonstrations spread across the country

In one clip, a mullah – an Islamic cleric and representative of the feared religious class which runs theocratic Iran – is chanted at aggressively as he walks through a group of protesters

Political protests are rare in Iran – but demonstrations are often held by workers over layoffs or non-payment of salaries and people who hold deposits in non-regulated bankrupt financial institutions

They shout: ‘Mullahs, be ashamed – and leave Iran’.

Another video appears to show police kicking protesters.

Some also chanted: ‘Not Gaza, not Lebanon, my life for Iran’ – a reference to anger at the government’s repeated interventions abroad.

One activist reported on social media that crowds also shouted: ‘Leave Palestine and think about us’.

Political protests are rare in Iran – but demonstrations are often held by workers over layoffs or non-payment of salaries and people who hold deposits in non-regulated bankrupt financial institutions.

Political protests of national significance took place most recently in 2009 when Mahmoud Amadinejad’s re-election as president ignited an eight-month firestorm of street demonstrations. His pro-reform rivals said the vote was rigged. Prominent conservative cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Alamolhoda was quoted as saying: ‘If the security and law enforcement agencies leave the rioters to themselves, enemies will publish films and pictures in their media and say that the Islamic Republic system has lost its revolutionary base in Mashhad,’ .

Alamolhoda, the representative of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in northeastern Mashhad, said a few people had taken advantage of yesterday’s protests against rising prices to raise slogans against Iran’s involvement in regional conflicts.

‘Some people had came to express their demands, but suddenly, in a crowd of hundreds, a small group that did not exceed 50, shouted deviant and horrendous slogans such as “Let go of Palestine”, “Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I’d give my life for Iran”,’ Alamolhoda said.

Videos on social media also showed demonstrators chanting ‘Leave Syria, think about us’, criticising Iran’s military and financial support for President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting opponents of the government in Syria’s six-year-old civil war.

Videos on social media also showed demonstrators chanting ‘Leave Syria, think about us’, criticising Iran’s military and financial support for President Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting opponents of the government in Syria’s six-year-old civil war

The prices of several staples, including eggs, have risen by up to 40 per cent in recent days, with farmers blaming the hikes on higher prices for imported feed. Pictured: Protesters in Iran yesterday

Political protests of national significance took place most recently in 2009 when Mahmoud Amadinejad’s re-election as president ignited an eight-month firestorm of street demonstrations. His pro-reform rivals said the vote was rigged

Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, a close ally of President Rouhani, suggested that hardline opponents of the president may have started the protests.

‘When a social and political movement is launched on the streets, those who started it will not necessarily be able to control it in the end,’ IRNA quoted Jahangiri as saying.

‘Those who are behind such events will burn their own fingers. They think they will hurt the government by doing so.’

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency quoted the governor of the northeastern city of Mashhad, Mohammad Rahim Norouzian, as saying there was an illegal ‘No to high prices’ gathering in the city.

‘Police gave them the necessary notifications and treated them with great tolerance,’ he said.

Norouzian said police arrested a number of people who intended to destroy public property, without elaborating.

The prices of several staples, including eggs, have risen by up to 40 per cent in recent days, with farmers blaming the hikes on higher prices for imported feed.

Poultry is an important part of the diet of many of Iran’s 80 million people, and previous price increases have caused political problems for its leaders in the years since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Inflation has returned to 10 per cent, Iran’s central bank says. Youth unemployment also remains high.

As well as Mashhad, there were smaller protests in Yazd in southern Iran, Shahroud in the north and Kashmar in the northeast.

Tempers rose after Rouhani submitted his 2018 budget to parliament, which raises departure taxes for those flying out of the country.

Vice-President Eshaq Jahangiri, a close ally of President Rouhani (pictured), suggested that hardline opponents of the president may have started the protests

Tehran-based analyst Saeed Leilaz said that Rouhani’s political rivals may have played a role in organising the protests, saying ‘the hands of political groups could be seen in today’s gathering in Mashhad.’

But he said the administration still faces a major challenge.

‘There are more than 3 million jobless in Iran, and more than 35 percent of Iranians are under the poverty line. These are Rouhani’s problems, and could kill any government. I won’t be shocked if inflation hits 12 per cent.’

All this comes as the US Congress weighs President Donald Trump’s refusal to re-certify the nuclear deal.

Many Iranians now say they agree with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s repeated warnings the US can’t be trusted.

Khamenei has also kept up his criticism of how Rouhani’s administration has handled the economy, which includes the supreme leader’s opposition to allowing foreign firms to fully enter Iran.

The Revolutionary Guard, a hard-line paramilitary organization, has vast economic interests in the country.

But the Guard did not mobilise its Basij volunteer forces to counter any of the protests yesterday.

However, some protests included attacks on Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country’s civil war, in which the Guard has played a major role.

Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman for the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran – which considers itself a government in exile – said he believes the protests show a ‘desire for regime change’.

He added: ‘One has to keep in mind that the people have been on the streets in large numbers across Iran for two days despite huge risks and the regime’s total mobilisation of its oppressive forces.’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5220273/Thousands-protesters-Iran-attack-president.html#ixzz52mvNj8Zf

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Story 1: Protests in Islamic Republic of Iran — Death to Dictator — Videos

Posted on December 29, 2017. Filed under: Agriculture, American History, Articles, Blogroll, Communications, Corruption, Crisis, Cult, Economics, Employment, Energy, European History, Faith, Family, Farming, Fiscal Policy, Food, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, government spending, Health, history, Islam, Islam, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Middle East, Natural Gas, Newspapers, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Press, Programming, Psychology, Radio, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Religion, Religious, Religious, Resources, Shite, Speech, Strategy, Success, Taxation, Taxes, Television, Wisdom, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , |

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IRAN – 28 Dec. 2017: Thousand protest chanting “Death to Dictator”

Thousand Chant “Death to Dictator” “Death to Rouhani” in Iranian Cities

Price protests turn political in Iran as rallies spread

DUBAI (Reuters) – Demonstrators chanted anti-government slogans in several cities across Iran on Friday, Iranian news agencies and social media reports said, as price protests turned into the largest wave of demonstrations since nationwide pro-reform unrest in 2009.

Police dispersed anti-government demonstrators in the western city of Kermanshah as protests spread to Tehran and several other cities a day after rallies in the northeast, the semi-official news agency Fars said.

The outbreak of unrest reflects growing discontent over rising prices and alleged corruption, as well as concern about the Islamic Republic’s costly involvement in regional conflicts such as those in Syria and Iraq.

An official said a few protesters had been arrested in Tehran, and footage posted on social media showed a heavy police presence in the capital and some other cities.

Washington criticized the arrests. ”The United States strongly condemns the arrest of peaceful protesters. We urge all nations to publicly support the Iranian people and their demands for basic rights and an end to corruption.

About 300 demonstrators gathered in Kermanshah after what Fars said was a “call by the anti-revolution”. They shouted: “Political prisoners should be freed” and “Freedom or death”, and some public property was destroyed. Fars did not name any opposition groups.

The protests in Kermanshah, the main city in a region where an earthquake killed over 600 people in November, took place a day after hundreds rallied in Iran’s second largest city Mashhad to protest at high prices and shout anti-government slogans.

Videos posted on social media showed demonstrators yelling, “The people are begging, the clerics act like God”.

Fars said there were protests in the cities of Sari and Rasht in the north, Qazvin west of Tehran and Qom south of the capital, and also in Hamadan in western Iran. It said many marchers who wanted to raise economic demands left the rallies after demonstrators shouted political slogans.

PRO-GOVERNMENT RALLIES PLANNED

State television said annual nationwide rallies and events were scheduled for Saturday to commemorate pro-government demonstrations held in 2009 to counter protests by reformists.

https://www.youtube.com/results?sp=EgIIAw%253D%253D&search_query=iran+rebellion+protests+fox+news

Iran Developing: Large Protests in Mashhad and Other Cities Over Inflation

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Screenshot of protesters in Mashhad, Iran, December 28, 2017

Video is circulating of large protests in several Iranian cities on Thursday over rising prices.

Demonstrations are reported in Iran’s second city Mashhad, Neyshabur, and Kashmar, all in the northeast in Khorasan Province, and Yazd in the center. Slogans include “Death to [President] Rouhani”, “Death to the dictator”, “You took Islam as a staircase to power but left the people”, and “Don’t be scared, we are all together.”

There were also calls for Iran’s officials to focus on domestic issues and pull back from interventions, with chants such as “No Gaza, No Lebanon” — a refrain of lines after the disputed 2009 Presidential election — and “Forget about Syria, think about us”.

The rallies began earlier this week in Isfahan after officials warned of worsening unemployment, with more than 27,000 people fired from their jobs because firms went bankrupt over the past nine months.

Demonstrators in Mashhad gathered in a central square and then moved towards the shrine of Imam Reza, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam:

The Governor of Khorasan Province, Mohammad Rahim Norouzian, said the gathering was illegal but “the police force was very tolerant”. However, video showed tear gas being used to disperse demonstrators:

In Neyshabur, “Leave Syria, think of us”:

Footage has also been posted of the Yazd rally, with protesters shouting, “What a mistake I made to vote for Rouhani!”.

A cartoon showing the Supreme Leader closing his ears to the demands for action, as he thinks of Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine:

KHAMENEI PROTEST CARTOON 12-17

A compilation of the demonstrations in Neyshabur, Yazd, Shahrud, Kashmar and Mashhad:

Protesters arrested in Iran after rally against price hikes

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Iranians angry over rising food prices and inflation protested in the country’s second-largest city and other areas Thursday, putting new pressure on President Hassan Rouhani as his signature nuclear deal with world powers remains in peril.

The protests in Mashhad saw police make an unspecified number of arrests, local authorities said, though the country’s powerful Revolutionary Guard and its affiliates did not intervene as they have in other unauthorized demonstrations since Iran’s disputed 2009 election.

It wasn’t immediately clear how many people took part in Thursday’s protests, though social media posts suggest several thousand likely demonstrated at rallies across at least three other cities.

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency quoted the governor of the northeastern city of Mashhad, Mohammad Rahim Norouzian, as saying there was an illegal “No to high prices” gathering in the city.

“Police gave them the necessary notifications and treated them with great tolerance,” he said.

Norouzian said police arrested a number of people who intended to destroy public property, without elaborating.

The prices of several staples, including eggs, have risen by up to 40 percent in recent days, with farmers blaming the hikes on higher prices for imported feed. Poultry is an important part of the diet of many of Iran’s 80 million people, and previous price increases have caused political problems for its leaders in the years since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

So has inflation, which Iran’s Central Bank says has returned to 10 percent. Youth unemployment remains high.

Tempers rose further after Rouhani submitted his 2018 budget to parliament, which raises departure taxes for those flying out of the country.

Tehran-based analyst Saeed Leilaz told The Associated Press that Rouhani’s political rivals may have played a role in organizing the protests, saying “the hands of political groups could be seen in today’s gathering in Mashhad.”

But he said the administration still faces a major challenge.

“There are more than 3 million jobless in Iran, and more than 35 percent of Iranians are under the poverty line. These are Rouhani’s problems, and could kill any government. I won’t be shocked if inflation hits 12 percent.”

All this comes as the U.S. Congress weighs President Donald Trump’s refusal to re-certify the nuclear deal. Many Iranians now say they agree with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s repeated warnings the U.S. can’t be trusted.

Khamenei also has kept up his criticism of how Rouhani’s administration has handled the economy, which includes the supreme leader’s opposition to allowing foreign firms to fully enter Iran. The Revolutionary Guard, a hard-line paramilitary organization, has vast economic interests in the country.

The Guard did not mobilize its Basij volunteer forces to counter any of the protests Thursday. However, some protests saw criticism of Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad in his country’s civil war, in which the Guard has played a major role.

___

Associated Press writer Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-5218105/Protesters-arrested-Iran-rally-against-price-hikes.html#ixzz52hIxftUq
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Story 1: Chinese ships caught shipping oil to North Korea — After Winter Olympics Eliminate North Korea and Islamic Republic of Iran Nuclear and Missile Threats — Videos

Posted on December 28, 2017. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Books, British History, Chinese, Communications, Congress, conservatives, Corruption, Crisis, Cult, Culture, Diet, Documentary, Economics, Elections, Employment, European History, Family, Farming, Food, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Genocide, government spending, Health, history, Law, Life, Links, media, Newspapers, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Radio, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Talk Radio, Taxation, Taxes, Trade, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 Story 1: Chinese ships caught shipping oil to North Korea — After Winter Olympics Eliminate North Korea and Islamic Republic of Iran Nuclear and Missile Threats — VideosSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageSee the source imageImage result for china ships oil to north korea See the source image

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Is China secretly selling oil to Kim Jong-un? US satellites ‘have spotted Beijing tankers transferring fuel to North Korean ships 30 times in three months’ despite UN trade embargo

  • Satellite images ‘show Chinese and North Korean ships tied together off China’
  • South Korea claims there have been 30 such transactions in just three months 
  • Such trades are banned under a UN resolution adopted in September this year

US satellites have spotted Chinese tankers transferring oil to North Korean ships 30 times in three months – despite strict UN trade embargoes, it has been claimed.

Overhead images appear to show ships from the two countries shackled together for a fuel transfer in the West Sea off China.

Such ship-to-ship trades are banned under a UN Security Council resolution adopted in September.

But according to South Korean government sources, American satellites have pictured large vessels from both China and North Korea illegally trading in a stretch of the West Sea on multiple occasions.

US satellites have spotted Chinese tankers transferring oil to North Korean ships 30 times in three months - despite strict UN trade embargoes, it has been claimed. One picture (above), reportedly taken on October 19, shows a ship called Ryesonggang 1 connected to a Chinese vessel in the West Sea off China

One picture, reportedly taken on October 19, shows a ship called Ryesonggang 1 connected to a Chinese vessel, The Chosun Ilbo reports.

The US Treasury Department later placed six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their vessels on sanctions list.

It said the activity appeared to show attempts to bypass sanctions, though it has not been suggested that Chinese authorities were aware of the transactions.

Cai Jian, an expert on North Korea at Fudan University in Shanghai, said: ‘This is a natural outcome of the tightening of the various sanctions against North Korea.

The tightening ‘reflects China’s stance’, he said.

Professor of political science at the Pusan National University in South Korea told the Telegraph the reports were easily believable.

He said: ‘There is a lot of under-the-radar on the Chinese side. Beijing does not police the border strictly or enforce the sanctions toughly. This could be that.’

It comes a day after Chinese customs data was revealed claiming Beijing exported no oil products to North Korea in November.

The figures apparently go above and beyond sanctions imposed earlier this year by the United Nations in a bid to limit petroleum shipments to the isolated country.

Tensions have flared anew over North Korea’s ongoing nuclear and missile programmes, pursued in defiance of years of U.N. resolutions. Last week, the U.N. Security Council imposed new caps on trade with North Korea, including limiting oil product shipments to just 500,000 barrels a year.

Beijing also imported no iron ore, coal or lead from North Korea in November, the second full month of the latest trade sanctions imposed by U.N.

China, the main source of North Korea’s fuel, did not export any gasoline, jet fuel, diesel or fuel oil to its isolated neighbour last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Tuesday.

Sanctions have been placed on Kim Jong-un's secretive nation after he accelerated his nuclear and missile programmes

Sanctions have been placed on Kim Jong-un’s secretive nation after he accelerated his nuclear and missile programmes

November was the second straight month China exported no diesel or gasoline to North Korea. The last time China’s jet fuel shipments to Pyongyang were at zero was in February 2015.

‘This is a natural outcome of the tightening of the various sanctions against North Korea,’ said Cai Jian, an expert on North Korea at Fudan University in Shanghai.

The tightening ‘reflects China’s stance’, he said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she didn’t know any details about the oil products export situation.

‘As a principle, China has consistently fully, correctly, conscientiously and strictly enforced relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea. We have already established a set of effective operating mechanisms and methods,’ she said at a regular briefing on Tuesday, without elaborating.

Since June, state-run China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) has suspended sales of gasoline and diesel to North Korea, concerned that it would not get paid for its goods, Reuters previously reported.

Beijing’s move to turn off the taps completely is rare.

In March 2003, China suspended oil supplies to North Korea for three days after Pyongyang fired a missile into waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

It is unknown if China still sells crude oil to Pyongyang. Beijing has not disclosed its crude exports to North Korea for several years.

Industry sources say China still supplies about 520,000 tonnes, or 3.8 million barrels, of crude a year to North Korea via an aging pipeline. That is a little more than 10,000 barrels a day, and worth about $200 million a year at current prices.

North Korea also sources some of its oil from Russia.

Chinese exports of corn to North Korean in November also slumped, down 82 percent from a year earlier to 100 tonnes, the lowest since January. Exports of rice plunged 64 percent to 672 tonnes, the lowest since March.

Trade between North Korea and China has slowed through the year, particularly after China banned coal purchases in February. In November, China’s trade with North Korea totalled $388 million, one of the lowest monthly volumes this year.

China has renewed its call on all countries to make constructive efforts to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula, urging the use of peaceful means to resolve issues.

But tensions flared again after North Korea on Nov. 29 said it had tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile that put the U.S. mainland within range of its nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile Chinese exports of liquefied petroleum gas to North Korea, used for cooking, rose 58 percent in November from a year earlier to 99 tonnes. Exports of ethanol, which can be turned into a biofuel, gained 82 percent to 3,428 cubic metres.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5214787/China-ships-selling-oil-sanction-hit-North-Korea.html#ixzz52boFYOhA

 

Where The North Korean Crisis Meets The Iran Nuclear Deal

 Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

This article was originally published at Stratfor.com.

By Reva Goujon

By virtue of its military might, the United States has the unique ability to quickly — and credibly — place its most intractable adversaries under existential threat. Command over the world’s most powerful military gives a country options, and the option of regime change can be a tempting one for Washington as it tries to work through some of its more maddening foreign policy dilemmas.

A government living under the constant, lurking threat of decapitation does not particularly enjoy stewing in its own paranoia over what social fissures its enemies can exploit, which allies they can turn and what chain of events could finally push the United States into action. That’s why a nuclear deterrent is such an alluring prospect: What better way to kill your adversaries’ fantasy of regime change than to stand with them as near-equals on a nuclear plane?

This is North Korea’s rationale as the country closes in on demonstrating that it has a fully functional nuclear weapon and delivery arsenal. But Washington’s nuclear dilemma doesn’t end with Pyongyang. Whether Tehran attempts to return to its treacherous path toward nuclear armament rests in large part on just how seriously the White House entertains and attempts to execute a policy of regime change.

Preventing Another North Korea

North Korea is set to prove to the world that it has attained a nuclear deterrent. With the Nov. 29 test of its longest-range intercontinental ballistic missile yet — and plenty more demonstrations to come in the months ahead — the country is on track to show that it could field a reliable, nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States and that it has the arsenal necessary to weather a first strike. The window to launch a preventive strike on North Korea is rapidly closing. And in turn, the odds are growing that the United States, along with the countries in and around the Korean Peninsula, will have to accept the reality of a nuclear-armed North Korea and prepare instead for a pre-emptive strike in case Pyongyang decides to launch an attack.

The result will be a new and unstable pattern of nuclear deterrence in the 21st century, one in which the unique challenges of communicating with the North Korean government will leave the door open to potential miscalculations. More Cold War-era arms agreements that rest on reliable communication among nuclear peers will come under threat. China and Russia, after all, fear that the irreversible buildup of the United States’ ballistic missile defense network will undermine their own strategic deterrents and will have less incentive to abide by obsolete arms pacts as a result. Despite continued calls for diplomacy to bring Pyongyang to the table and somehow prevent North Korea from crossing the nuclear Rubicon, the chances are slim that Kim Jong Un’s administration will trust a last-ditch negotiation. No amount of security guarantees from the United States will persuade Pyongyang that Washington, its allies or even Beijing has wholly abandoned their designs for regime change. Furthermore, Kim has commissioned an assassination campaign with global reach to ensure that any potential alternatives to his rule are eliminated early on. With its survival on the line, North Korea has an existential commitment to achieve its nuclear objectives.

The United States is weighing the risks of carrying out a preventive military campaign to avoid entering the dangerous new global order. But the associated costs of starting a war in Northeast Asia and plunging the world into recession make this scenario less likely. Even though he inherited a near-impossible timeline to neutralize the threat, U.S. President Donald Trump won’t take kindly to North Korea fulfilling its nuclear ambitions on his watch. When the time comes to reckon with this reality, his administration will probably reframe the issue as the product of decades of negligent and ineffective policy. The president will then set his sights on Iran, vowing to avoid a repeat of such a colossal failure in U.S. foreign policy.

In fact, the effort to shift attention from North Korea to Iran has been underway for some time. Trump has made clear that he sees the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the deal his predecessor, along with four other countries, made with Iran to deter it from pursuing nuclear capabilities — as flimsy and wholly insufficient. The U.S. administration, moreover, has expressed its frustration that the deal’s terms inhibit the imposition of economic sanctions in response to other threats from Iran. By decertifyng the JCPOA, Trump meant to send the message that he was serious about confronting the Islamic republic. To strike a deal in the first place, the previous administration and the JCPOA’s other signatories had to focus negotiations solely on Iran’s nuclear program, setting aside broader problems, such as Tehran’s covert support for militant proxies, its development of ballistic missiles and its alleged human rights abuses. The International Atomic Energy Agency and the JCPOA’s other parties affirm that Iran is upholding its end of the agreement. Yet the current occupants of the White House have used infractions unrelated to the deal, such as ballistic missile testing, to blur the JCPOA’s terms and justify reintroducing sanctions.

Iran Recalculates

Consequently, Iran will have much to contemplate in the coming year as it weighs the pros and cons of abiding by the JCPOA. Compared with North Korea, Iran sees a nuclear deterrent as more of a luxury than a strict necessity. Iran’s reliance on global energy trade, its heavy exposure to intelligence oversight from hawkish neighbors like Israel and its people’s ability to channel economic discontent into political change make its pursuit of nuclear arms more perilous. At the same time, the country’s layered political structure, formidable security apparatus, challenging terrain and ability to disrupt traffic in the Strait of Hormuz offer it useful insulation against its adversaries’ attempts to bring down the clerical government. In addition, Iran’s influence across the Middle East gives it leverage with the United States. Either by helping U.S. interests, for example in the fight against the Islamic State, or by hindering them — through threatening maritime vessels or backing militant proxies against U.S. allies — Tehran can influence its dealings with Washington. These factors led Iran to conclude that it could strike a bargain with the United States over its nuclear program to get economic reprieve from sanctions and reduce the potential for a military conflict in the Persian Gulf.

But the JCPOA wasn’t just about the nuclear program. Implicit in the framework was a deeper understanding between Washington and Tehran. Both sides understood there would remain a number of points of contention between them as they competed in proxy battlegrounds across the region. Still, in signing the deal, the United States was downgrading the potential for conflict in the Gulf region, thereby signaling to Tehran that it was taking any earlier plans for regime change off the table.

Now, in trying to directly discredit the JCPOA, the Trump administration risks stripping away those security guarantees and putting Iran back in an existential mindset that could push it onto the nuclear path once more.

A spate of leaks and acknowledgments from the U.S. president himself over the past year have revealed Trump’s disdain for anyone trying to block his Iran agenda and his respect for hawks on Iran policy. (The former group includes Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, while the latter category includes U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Sen. Tom Cotton, who has been rumored to be next in line to head the CIA should Trump decide to replace Tillerson with Pompeo.) The more frustrated he becomes with the North Korean dilemma, the more energy the U.S. president has put into lining up loyalists to try to limit interference in his agenda for Iran. Two key figures in the Middle East have exerted heavy influence over that agenda: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders, in fact, are so eager for the opportunity to shape a more aggressive U.S. policy toward Iran that they are downplaying their animosity for each other and collaborating in the open.

Iran’s leaders will now have to assess how far the U.S.-Saudi-Israeli triumvirate will go in trying to contain their country. Iran still has the benefit of a strong European defense for the JCPOA. The White House would risk a major confrontation with the Continent’s powers were it to attempt to unilaterally end sanctions waivers and reinstate secondary sanctions on foreign firms doing business with Iran. And enforcing additional sanctions would be difficult without buy-in from Iran’s main trading partners. With that in mind, Tehran will probably take care in the coming months to avoid blatantly violating the JCPOA and driving the Europeans back to the United States’ side on sanctions — even as a growing competition with Washington emboldens Iran’s hard-line politicians. At the same time, Tehran will look for ways to strengthen its burgeoning relationship with Russia to counterbalance the U.S.-Saudi-Israeli alliance.

Even if the framework of the JCPOA survives, however tenuously, Iran will still be on alert for other aggressive U.S.-backed efforts to destabilize its political system. After all, if the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia believe that the nuclear deal is fundamentally flawed and that they must compel Tehran back to the negotiating table, they’ll need to find ways to credibly threaten the Iranian government’s continued existence. Iran will be on the lookout for a range of threats, from a concerted military campaign against its Lebanese proxy militia, Hezbollah, to a cyberattack on its critical infrastructure to covert efforts to sow sedition in the Islamic republic. And even if the United States could coerce Iran to renegotiate the nuclear deal, Washington’s reputation for honoring that kind of pact is already deep in question. Agreeing to abandon the quest for nuclear weapons didn’t save Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, as Pyongyang and Tehran well know.

Overturning the JCPOA will compound the challenges the United States faces in finding diplomatic solutions to nuclear-sized problems. Moreover, a nuclear-armed North Korea would only complicate matters further. The cash-strapped country may find its coveted deterrent to be a lucrative asset in a pinch. And should the United States convince Iran of the JCPOA’s impending demise, Pyongyang may have a willing customer in Tehran.

The Luxury of Distance

Trump’s more assertive stance toward Iran isn’t an anomaly in U.S. foreign policy. Since the JCPOA took effect — a milestone that was arguably necessary to reduce the threat of military conflict in the Persian Gulf and to freeze Iran’s nuclear program — the Islamic republic’s economic recovery and re-engagement with the West has threatened to upset the balance of power in the Middle East. Iran, free from the fetters of sanctions, suddenly had more energy and resources to throw into its proxy battles in the region, at the expense of critical Sunni powers. The United States, in turn, was bound to shore up support for its Sunni allies and seek out new ways to keep Iran contained, regardless of who was conducting policy in the White House.

Even so, there is such thing as an overcorrection in policymaking. Trump’s willingness to wholeheartedly endorse the Saudi plan for cutting Iran back down to size sets him apart from his political contemporaries and predecessors. Along with trying to discredit the JCPOA, the U.S. administration has backed Riyadh’s short-sighted campaigns to isolate Qatar and to try to force a Saudi agenda down the Lebanese government’s throat. These moves, all sorely lacking in subtlety, at times suggest an ideological bent to target Iran at any cost.

But the United States doesn’t have to shoulder the historical baggage and the centuries of animosity that drive competition in the Middle East. It has the luxury of distance, from which it can manipulate the balance of power at will. In other words, while Israel and Saudi Arabia perceive Iran to be an existential threat, the same may not be true for the United States. Its removal from the situation gives Washington the space to manage Iran through a more assertive policy of strategic containment that stops short of reintroducing the menace of regime change and thus keeps the country from having to resort to more extreme measures. Therein lies the difference between strategic and ideological policymaking. As the North Korea conundrum gives rise to a more precarious age of nuclear deterrence, that difference will matter all the more.

This article was originally published by Stratfor Worldview, a leading geopolitical intelligence platform and advisory firm based in Austin, Texas.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/stratfor/2017/12/07/where-the-north-korean-crisis-meets-the-iran-nuclear-deal/#56ded7c9e9a6

Scoop: U.S. and Israel reach joint plan to counter Iran

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after delivering a speech during a visit to the Israel Museum on May 23, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. Photo: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel have reached a joint strategic work plan to counter Iranian activity in the Middle East. U.S. and Israeli officials said the joint understandings were reached in a secret meeting between senior Israeli and U.S. delegations at the White House on December 12th.

What it means: A senior U.S. official said that after two days of talks the U.S. and Israel reached at a joint document which included understandings on countering Iranian actions in the region. The U.S. official said the document goal’s was to translate President Trump’s Iran speech to joint U.S.-Israeli strategic goals regarding Iran and to set up a joint work plan.

At the table: The Israeli team was headed by national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and included senior representatives of the Israeli military, Ministry of Defense, Foreign Ministry and intelligence community. The U.S. side was headed by national security adviser H.R. McMaster and included senior representatives from the National Security Council, State Department, Department of Defense and the intelligence community.

As part of the understandings that were reached the U.S. and Israel decided to form several working groups according to the joint goals:
  1. Covert and diplomatic action to block Iran’s path to nuclear weapons – according to the U.S. official this working group will deal with diplomatic steps that can be taken as part of the Iran nuclear deal to further monitor and verify that Iran is not violating the deal. It also includes diplomatic steps outside of the nuclear deal to put more pressure on Iran. The working group will deal with possible covert steps against the Iranian nuclear program.
  2. Countering Iranian activity in the region, especially the Iranian entrenchment efforts in Syria and the Iranian support for Hezbollah and other terror groups. This working group will also deal with drafting U.S.-Israeli policy regarding the “day after” in the Syrian civil war.
  3. Countering Iranian ballistic missiles development and the Iranian “precision project” aimed at manufacturing precision guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon for Hezbollah to be used against Israel in a future war.
  4. Joint U.S.-Israeli preparation for different escalation scenarios in the region concerning Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Senior Israeli officials confirmed that the U.S. and Israel have arrived at strategic understandings regarding Iran that would strengthen the cooperation in countering regional challenges.

The Israeli officials said:

“[T]he U.S. and Israel see eye to eye the different developments in the region and especially those that are connected to Iran. We reached at understandings regarding the strategy and the policy needed to counter Iran. Our understandings deal with the overall strategy but also with concrete goals, way of action and the means which need to be used to get obtain those goals.”

https://www.axios.com/scoop-u-s-and-israel-reach-joint-plan-to-counter-iran-2520518565.html

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Story 1: Deputy Director Andrew McCabe Counting The Days To Early Retirement in March 2018 — Videos

Posted on December 23, 2017. Filed under: Blogroll, Congress, conservatives, Constitution, Corruption, Crisis, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Foreign Policy, Fraud, Freedom, government spending, Journalism, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Newspapers, People, Philosophy, Photos, Political Correctness, Politics, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Speech, Spying, Strategy, Success, Talk Radio, Video, Welfare, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , |

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F.B..I Deputy Director Andrew McCabe To RETIRE

Facing Republican attacks, FBIs deputy director plans to retire early next year

House Intel Cmte to issue new subpoenas after McCabe testimony

House Intel Cmte to issue new subpoenas after McCabe testimony

FBI Deputy Director McCabe testifies behind closed doors

Trey Gowdy Predicts FBI Agent Andrew McCabe Will Be Fired

Major News Out Of The FBI – Trey Gowdy Has Done It!

Collusion is between Clinton campaign, DNC, Fusion GPS, FBI, DOJ: Judicial Watch president

Former FBI Ass’t Dir says DoJ cabal is a conspiracy

Inspector General Says Hillary Clinton REFUSED To Be Interviewed By Him During Email Investigation!

Chaffetz on the Inspector General and the DOJ/FBI Scrutiny

Justice Dept. Inspector General Offers New Details on Discovery of FBI Official’s Anti-Trump Texts

Justice Dept. Inspector General Offers New Details on Discovery of FBI Official’s Anti-Trump Texts

FBI: Clinton and her aides were ‘extremely careless’ in email server use

Hannity: The fix was in for Hillary Clinton

Facing Republican attacks, FBI’s deputy director plans to retire early next year


Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s deputy director, has become a lightning rod in the political storms buffeting the agency. (Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
 December 23 at 4:14 PM
Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s deputy director who has been the target of Republican critics for more than a year, plans to retire in a few months when he becomes fully eligible for pension benefits, according to people familiar with the matter.McCabe spent hours in Congress this past week, facing questions behind closed doors from members of three committees. Republicans said they were dissatisfied with his answers; Democrats called it a partisan hounding.McCabe, 49, holds a unique position in the political firestorm surrounding the FBI . He was former director James B. Comey’s right-hand man, a position that involved him in most of the FBI’s actions that vex President Trump and in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, a matter that still riles Democrats.McCabe won’t become eligible for his full pension until early March. People close to him say he plans to retire as soon as he hits that mark. “He’s got about 90 days, and some of that will be holiday time. He can make it,’’ one said.

McCabe ‘absolutely’ pledges to tell Congress if White House meddles in Russia probe

He also asserted there had “been no effort to impede our investigation to date.” 

A spokesman for McCabe declined to comment, as did an FBI spokesman.

Word of McCabe’s plans drew a response Saturday from Trump, who in a Twitter postcharacterized the move as “racing the clock to retire with full benefits.”

When Trump fired Comey in May, McCabe stayed to run the agency until a new director was in place and to take the political heat for decisions made by his former boss.

“Andy’s in a difficult position now . . . because of the hyperpartisan political environment,’’ said John Pistole, who held the FBI’s No. 2 job for six years under former director Robert S. Mueller III. Mueller now serves as special counsel, running the investigation into whether any Trump associates conspired with Russian agents to interfere with the 2016 election.

Pistole said McCabe “is weathering the storm.”

“It’s disappointing,” he added, “to see how the criticism of the FBI is being used to try to undermine the credibility of the Mueller investigation. I think they’ve figured out they can’t undermine Bob’s integrity, so they’re just going to go after whoever they can dig up any dirt on.’’

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe is escorted by U.S. Capitol Police before a meeting with lawmakers Thursday on Capitol Hill. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Within the agency, there is praise — but also some criticism — for how McCabe has handled his role. Still, he has become a lightning rod in the political storms buffeting the bureau. Conservatives have called for heads to roll at the FBI, and McCabe is atop the lists of many. But current and former FBI officials said it would be dangerous to appease those demands.

“It would send a terrible message to move him now, but it’s also a terrible situation he’s in,’’ said one law enforcement official.

Last week, the FBI’s top lawyer, James Baker, told colleagues he was being reassigned, according to people familiar with the matter.

The pressure on McCabe has only intensified. He got an eight-hour grilling from the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday and returned to Congress on Thursday to face more than nine hours of questions from the House Judiciary and Oversight committees.

Other senior FBI officials, including those who worked closely with McCabe and Comey, are expected to face similar questioning from Congress next year.

Republicans are focusing in particular on the FBI’s relationship with the author of a dossier containing allegations against Trump. The bureau offered to pay the author of that document after the election to keep pursuing leads and information, but the agreement was never finalized, The Washington Post reported earlier this year.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), has called for McCabe’s ouster, saying he “ought to go for reasons of being involved in some of the things that took place in the previous administration. We want to make sure that there’s not undue political influence within the FBI — the [Justice] Department and the FBI.”

Democrats emerging from Thursday’s questioning of McCabe urged him to resist Republicans’ calls to step down, saying the GOP’s new focus on McCabe smells of political opportunism.

McCabe should not be fired because of “biased political commentary,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.).

Trump and his supporters have made clear they want McCabe gone, but as a civil service employee, he can’t be fired outright without a clear finding of major wrongdoing.

Christopher A. Wray became the FBI’s director in August, and a new leader typically appoints a new deputy to help run the agency. When Comey became director in 2013, for example, he got a new deputy after about two months.

But within the FBI, even reassigning McCabe is viewed by many as a bad idea. It would be seen as caving to political demands and might provoke calls for additional housecleaning, according to current and former law enforcement officials.

McCabe rose quickly through the FBI’s senior ranks, only to find himself, beginning last year, the subject of intense partisan fighting about his conduct.

Republicans attacked him after reports that his wife, a Democratic candidate for a Virginia Senate seat in 2015, had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations from the political action committee led by a close ally of the Clintons. He had also been part of discussions with Justice Department officials that critics said prevented FBI agents from more aggressively pursuing their investigation of the Clinton Foundation. Agents were trying to determine whether donations to the foundation were made with an expectation of government favors from Clinton or her allies.

After reports about those issues surfaced in October 2016, then-candidate Trump singled out McCabe for criticism, and congressional Republicans demanded detailed answers from the FBI about his role in the Clinton probes — questions they insist remain unanswered.

In a separate Twitter post on Saturday, Trump expressed his incredulity once more, asking how “How can FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the man in charge, along with leakin’ James Comey, of the Phony Hillary Clinton investigation (including her 33,000 illegally deleted emails) be given $700,000 for wife’s campaign by Clinton Puppets during investigation?”

McCabe’s role is being examined by the Justice Department’s inspector general, who has said a report on how the Clinton probe was handled should be finished by spring.

In May came Comey’s firing, which left the FBI, according to one person inside the bureau, “permanently playing defense.’’

McCabe was suddenly in charge, and, according to people familiar with the matter, law enforcement officials began to investigate the president for obstruction of justice.

In early December, McCabe faced yet another controversy. The Post reported that one of his senior advisers, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, had exchanged numerous pro-Clinton and anti-Trump text messages with Peter Strzok, the top FBI agent on Mueller’s probe. The special counsel removed Strzok when he learned of their communications; Page had left the Mueller team two weeks earlier for what officials said were unrelated reasons. In one text, Strzok wrote that he thought Clinton should win “100,000,000-0.’’

More problematic for McCabe is a text in which Page told Strzok, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.’’

Republican lawmakers have seized on the text as evidence that Strzok, Page and possibly McCabe were involved in an effort to somehow ensure Trump would not win the election. But people familiar with the exchange said that the two were debating how overtly they should begin investigating Trump, and that one of the factors they considered was the likelihood he could win the presidency — which they deemed small.

Even that explanation presents a headache for McCabe because it places a conversation in his office about how the expected election outcome should or should not affect the FBI’s investigative decisions.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/facing-republican-attacks-fbis-deputy-director-plans-to-retire-early-next-year/2017/12/23/b4802b8c-e67a-11e7-a65d-1ac0fd7f097e_story.html?utm_term=.c724e3cc1f16

 

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Story 1: U.S. Personal Consumption Spending and Inflation Rising — Videos

Posted on December 22, 2017. Filed under: American History, Banking, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Computers, Congress, Culture, Economics, Education, Elections, Employment, Faith, Family, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Food, Freedom, Friends, government spending, Health, history, Illegal, Immigration, Inflation, Investments, Journalism, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Macroeconomics, media, Microeconomics, Monetary Policy, Money, Money, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Resources, Success, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxation, Taxes, Technology, Video, Welfare, Work, Writing | Tags: , , , , |

Story 1: U.S. Consumption Spending and Inflation Rising — Videos

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U.S. Inflation Gains in Nov., While Core CPI Cools

Will retail earnings get a boost from consumer spending increase?

Gary Shilling Explains Why The US Should Focus Less On Consumption

What is inflation? | Inflation | Finance & Capital Markets | Khan Academy

What Is Consumer Price Index (CPI)? | Show Me | NBC News

U.S. Consumer Spending Tops Forecasts as Inflation Accelerates

U.S. consumer spending rose more than forecast in November and the Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge advanced to an eight-month high, signs of economic vitality that should keep the central bank on track to raise interest rates gradually in 2018.

Purchases rose 0.6 percent after a 0.2 percent advance that was less than previously estimated, Commerce Department figures showed Friday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey called for a 0.5 percent gain. Incomes rose 0.3 percent, slightly below projections, though the three-month gain was the fastest since early 2017.

While partly reflecting rising prices and spending related to energy, the results indicate strength in consumption, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy and is likely to drive U.S. growth again this quarter. Inflation moving closer to the Fed’s target may also reinforce expectations for interest- rate hikes next year under incoming Chairman Jerome Powell, and tax legislation awaiting President Donald Trump’s signature could provide a further boost to the economy.

One caveat: The report showed Americans’ spending is increasingly coming at the expense of storing up funds. The saving rate fell to 2.9 percent in November, the lowest since November 2007, just before the last recession began.

What Our Economists Say…

The results “support Bloomberg Economics’ forecast for consumer-spending growth to accelerate in the fourth quarter to the fastest pace since the beginning of the year. Importantly, robust personal spending is supported by strong income gains in November, suggesting that households are well-positioned to spend in the near term. Income gains should intensify going into the next year as wage pressures increase.”

— Yelena Shulyatyeva, Bloomberg Economics

For more on the data from BE, click here.

The Fed’s preferred inflation gauge — tied to consumption — rose 0.2 percent in November from the previous month and 1.8 percent from a year earlier, the fastest since March. Excluding food and energy, so-called core prices rose 0.1 percent from October and 1.5 percent from November 2016, matching estimates.

Inflation has missed the central bank’s 2 percent target for most of the past five years. While energy prices have helped drive the pickup in headline inflation, the rise in the core gauge should also hearten Fed officials, who expect inflation will slowly reach their goal as transitory downward pressures dissipate.

With steady hiring and rising stock and home prices boosting households’ ability to increase purchases, some analysts project the holiday season will be the best since before the recession began. Recent government figures showed retail sales rose more than forecast in November amid broad-based demand.

The latest results follow Commerce Department figures released Thursday that showed third-quarter gross domestic product grew at a 3.2 percent annualized pace, revised down slightly though still the fastest since early 2015. That reflected a somewhat slower rate of household consumption.

Economists expect growth of 2.7 percent in the October-December period, based on the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey.

Other Details

  • Wages and salaries rose 0.4 percent in November from the prior month; disposable income, or earnings adjusted for taxes and inflation, was up 0.1 percent after a 0.3 percent advance in October
  • Consumer spending on durable goods, adjusted for inflation, rose 0.2 percent for a second month; nondurable goods jumped 0.7 percent after a 0.2 percent advance; recreational goods and vehicles contributed to gains
  • Household outlays on services, adjusted for inflation, rose 0.4 percent after a 0.1 percent decline in prior month; gain reflects spending on electricity and gas

— With assistance by Jordan Yadoo, Catarina Saraiva, and Sophie Caronello

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-22/u-s-consumer-spending-tops-forecasts-as-inflation-accelerates

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Hezbollah Drug Ring Not Pursued To Save Iran Nuclear Deal — Project/Operation Cassandra Stopped By Obama — Drug and Nuclear Proliferation Obama’s Appeasement of Radical Islamic Terrorism — Junk Journalism At Big Lie Media Ignored The Story –Videos

Posted on December 20, 2017. Filed under: American History, Articles, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Computers, Congress, conservatives, Constitution, Crime, Crisis, Documentary, Drug Cartels, Economics, Education, Elections, Employment, Energy, Essays, Family, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government spending, history, History of Economic Thought, Illegal, Immigration, Islam, Islam, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Newspapers, Nuclear Power, Nuclear Proliferation, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Police, Political Correctness, Politics, Radio, Rants, Raves, Raymond Thomas Pronk, Religion, Resources, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Television, Video, War | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Hezbollah Drug Ring Not Pursued To Save Iran Nuclear Deal — Operation Cassandera Stopped By Obama — Drug and Nuclear Proliferation Obama’s Appeasement of Radical Islamic Terrorism — Videos

Politico: Obama Admin Blocked Efforts To Dismantle Hezbollah Drug Ring – Tucker Carlson

Rpt: Obama Admin Protected Terrorist Drug Ring To Secure Iran Nuclear Deal – Story

Did Obama let Hezbollah off the hook to seal Iran nuke deal?

Obama derailed campaign against Hezbollah to secure Iran deal: report

Rush Limbaugh: Bombshell, that nobody will read: Obama let Hezbollah run cocaine into the U.S.

Mark Levin Show: Obama let Hezbollah run cocaine into U.S. to facilitate the Iran Deal getting done

Obama Helped Hezbollah Sell Cocaine shield From DEA and CIA to Save Iran Nuclear Deal

Rpt: Obama Blocked pursuit of Hezbolllah’s Drug Ring to protect Iran Deal – The Five

At what cost was the nuclear deal with Iran reached?

Politico: Obama Admin Shielded Hezbollah Drug Ring From DEA To Save Iran Nuclear Deal – Cavuto

Joe Lieberman: Iran deal was bad for America

Giuliani on Iran deal: I call that money laundering

New details about $400M cash payment to Iran

Obama’s $400M Ransom Payoff Evidence of Iran Deal Fraud | “Dana”

Obama paid Iran $1.7B, two days after $400M cash payment

Oliver North: The U.S. administration lied about payment to Iran

Did the Obama admin break law in alleged Iran ‘ransom’?

Shane Smith’s Debrief on the Nuclear Deal in Iran

Dobbs: The Obama legacy has become one of shame

The Middle East’s cold war, explained

Proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia intensifies

 

 

The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook

An ambitious U.S. task force targeting Hezbollah’s billion-dollar criminal enterprise ran headlong into the White House’s desire for a nuclear deal with Iran.

PART I

A GLOBAL THREAT EMERGES

How Hezbollah turned to trafficking cocaine and laundering money through used cars to finance its expansion.

In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.

They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.

They followed cocaine shipments, tracked a river of dirty cash, and traced what they believed to be the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.

But as Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.

The Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force. And the State Department rejected requests to lure high-value targets to countries where they could be arrested.

December 15, 2011

Hezbollah is linked to a $483,142,568 laundering scheme

The money, allegedly laundered through the Lebanese Canadian Bank and two exchange houses, involved approximately 30 U.S. car buyers.

Read the document

“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” said David AsherDavid AsherVeteran U.S. illicit finance expert sent from Pentagon to Project Cassandra to attack the alleged Hezbollah criminal enterprise., who helped establish and oversee Project Cassandra as a Defense Department illicit finance analyst. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

https://www.politico.com/interactives/2017/obama-hezbollah-drug-trafficking-investigation/

Obama protected Hezbollah drug ring to save Iran nukes deal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Obama administration stymied a sprawling investigation into the terror group Hezbollah — and its highly lucrative drug- trafficking networks — to protect the Iran nuclear deal, according to a bombshell report.

A team at the Drug Enforcement Administration had been working for almost a decade to bring down the Iran-backed militant organization’s sophisticated $1 billion-a-year drug ring, which laundered money and smuggled cocaine into the United States, Politico reported.

But the departments of Justice and Treasury repeatedly undermined agents’ efforts to arrest and prosecute key members of the criminal network — because the Obama White House feared upsetting Tehran ahead of the nuclear agreement, according to Politico.

Former Treasury official Katherine Bauer even admitted in little-noticed testimony to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs last February that “under the Obama administration . . . these [Hezbollah-related] investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking the boat with Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.”

When the Iran agreement took effect in January 2016, the investigation — dubbed Project Cassandra — was effectively dismantled.

“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” said David Asher, an expert in illicit finance who helped found the project. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

The task force worked for eight years out of a top-secret facility in Virginia, with the help of 30 American and foreign security agencies, to unravel the global crime syndicate that was funding Hezbollah’s jihadist operations.

Politico also reported that late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was in cahoots with then-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hezbollah in cocaine trafficking and other activities meant to undermine US influence.

In 2007, Venezuela’s state-run Conviasa airline was ferrying drugs and cash from Caracas to Tehran via Syria each week, according to Politico.

DEA agents nicknamed the airline “Aeroterror” because the planes would come back carrying weapons, along with Hezbollah and Iranian operatives.

But the Obama administration never fought to have two major players in the scheme extradited to the United States to face charges when it had the opportunity, task force members charged.

Others the team sought to bring to justice were Abdallah Safieddine, Hezzbollah’s envoy to Tehran, and a shadowy operative nicknamed “Ghost,” whom it considered one of the biggest cocaine smugglers in the world.

“Hezbollah operates like the Gambino crime family on steroids, and [Safieddine] is its John Gotti,” ex-DEA agent Jack Kelly, who created the task force, told Politico. “Whatever Iran needs, Safieddine is in charge of getting it for them.”

Safieddine was ultimately linked to a massive drug-smuggling and money-laundering network allegedly led by Lebanese businessman Ayman Joumaa.

Agents discovered Joumaa had smuggled tons of cocaine into the States — then laundered $200 million a month by buying used cars from American dealers.

The cars were sent to Benin in West Africa, where satellite photos taken in 2015 showed rows upon rows of used cars in a lot.

But the Obama administration repeatedly thwarted efforts to prosecute Safieddine, Politico reported.

An Obama spokesman denied the operation was derailed for political reasons, noting several Hezbollah members were arrested.

Other administration officials suggested those involved were blind to the bigger picture.

“The world is a lot more complicated than viewed through the narrow lens of drug trafficking,” one official said. “So you’re not going to let CIA rule the roost, but you’re also certainly not going to let DEA do it either.”

https://nypost.com/2017/12/18/obama-protected-hezbollah-drug-ring-to-save-iran-nukes-deal/

Report: Obama ‘Derailed’ DEA Probe into Hezbollah in Latin America to Save Iran Deal

Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration “derailed” a DEA operation targeting Hezbollah’s multi-million-dollar drug trafficking activities in Latin America to secure approval of the controversial Iran nuclear deal, reports Politico.

Iran’s narco-terrorist proxy Hezbollah is involved in a plethora of criminal activities in Latin America, ranging from money laundering to massive drug trafficking.

“This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” David Asher, a veteran Pentagon illicit finance expert deployed to combat the alleged Hezbollah criminal enterprise, told Politico, referring to the DEA operation, dubbed Project Cassandra. “They [Obama administration] serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”

For years, the U.S. military has been sounding the alarm on the threat against the United States posed by the presence of Iran and Hezbollah in America’s backyard — Latin America.

However, the Obama administration argued that Iran’s influence in the Western Hemisphere was “waning,” reported the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’ watchdog arm, in late September 2014, months before world powers and Iran approved the nuclear deal in July 2015.

In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.

The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC), the chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, chastised the Obama administration for undermining the DEA operation.

In a statement, Pittenger, the vice chairman of the House Financial Services Committee Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing, declared:

The nexus between terrorists organizations, including Hezbollah, and Latin American drug cartels is a subversive alliance which provides hundreds of millions of dollars to global jihad. “The witnesses providing account of the Obama administration derailing and stonewalling the prosecution of this illicit funding investigation has resulted in the most serious consequences of the misguided and injudicious actions of President Obama and his team.”

In June 2016, Michael Braun, a former DEA agent, told lawmakers that Hezbollah is generating hundreds of millions from a “cocaine money laundering scheme” in Latin America that “provides a never-ending source of funding” for its terrorist operations in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Iran has deployed thousands of Hezbollah militants to fight on behalf of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, a move that has allowed the ruthless leader to remain in power.

Both the U.S. military and State Department have warned against the menace that Hezbollah and Iran’s presence in Latin America represents.

Politico reveals:

As Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.

The Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force. And the State Department rejected requests to lure high-value targets to countries where they could be arrested.

Soon after U.S.-led world powers and Iran approved the nuclear pact, Obama predicted that Iran would use sanction relief funds to boost its terrorist proxies, namely Hezbollah, saying in August 2015:

Let’s stipulate that some of that money will flow to activities that we object to … Iran supports terrorist organizations like Hezbollah. It supports proxy groups that threaten our interests and the interests of our allies — including proxy groups who killed our troops in Iraq.

A day after the deal’s approval, Obama also said:

Do we think that with the sanctions coming down, that Iran will have some additional resources for its military and for some of the activities in the region that are a threat to us and a threat to our allies? I think that is a likelihood that they’ve got some additional resources. Do I think it’s a game-changer for them? No.

They are currently supporting Hezbollah, and there is a ceiling — a pace at which they could support Hezbollah even more, particularly in the chaos that’s taking place in Syria. So can they potentially try to get more assistance there? Yes.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Iran has dramatically increased its financial support to Hezbollah from $200 million to $800 million per year, two years after the nuclear deal was signed by Iran and world powers.

In 2010, John Brennan, Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser and then CIA director, confirmed that former president’s administration was trying to build up “moderate elements” within Iran’s terror proxy Hezbollah.

“Hezbollah is a very interesting organization,” Brennan told a Washington conference, saying it had evolved from “purely a terrorist organization” to a militia and, ultimately, a prominent Shiite political party in Lebanon, reported Reuters.

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2017/12/18/obama-sabotaged-dea-operation-targeting-hezbollah-in-latin-america-to-secure-iran-nuclear-deal/

Ex-CIA Adviser Denies Report That Obama Thwarted anti-Hezbollah Operation to Save Iran Deal
Brian O’Toole, who was a senior officer in the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control, calls the Politico report ‘a grand conspiracy led by Hezbollah’

Haaretz Dec 19, 2017 9:54 PM
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.829978

Obama administration reportedly shielded Hezbollah from DEA and CIA to save Iran nuclear deal
Nasrallah: Hezbollah to focus on Jerusalem, best response to Trump would be third intifada
Israeli intel minister to Saudi media: Israel can strike Iranian missile plants in Lebanon, ‘as is happening in Syria’

A former CIA adviser denied a Politico report in a series of tweets on Tuesday, calling it “a grand conspiracy led by Hezbollah.” According to the Monday report, the Obama administration thwarted a covert operation against the militant Lebanese group in order to save the Iran nuclear deal.
In a tweet, Brian O’Toole called Politico’s sources “malcontents” who turned to the press despite the fact that no one in the civil service agreed with them.
skip – Brian O’Toole Tweets
According to the Atlantic Council think tank, O’Toole was a CIA adviser and worked in the intelligence department of the Department of the Treasury from 2009 until this year, and then became senior members of the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control and a specialist on sanctions.

O’Toole wrote that he would be careful with what he reveals, because “unlike the many sources cited by name here, I actually intend to honor the non-disclosure agreement I signed with the CIA and treasury.”
“What this story and these people allege is a grand conspiracy led by Hezbollah. They’d have you believe it involved multiple world leaders and centers around Hezbollah actively trafficking in narcotics. They’ve based these assessments on classic analytical overreach, however,” added O’Toole.

According to Politico’s Monday report, the White House directly prevented actions by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to battle Hezbollah drugs and weapons trafficking operations in order to avoid hurting what was then a delicate emerging nuclear agreement with Iran.
“It disgusts me that they would go public with this conclusion because no one else in the career civil service would agree with them. These weren’t politicals at every turn, but seasoned analysts who knew much more than they did,” wrote O’Toole.

He added that in his opinion, the Politico report was possible due to the fact that the sources knew that they would receive “no rebuke” from the Trump administration, which he called “deparate to hammer Iran and unwilling to discuss classified info in public.”
He further said the report “may well end up helping Hezbollah.”

Other independent journalists have begun investigating into who the quoted sources are in the Politico report. One of them may be Katherine Bauer, who worked in the U.S. Ministry of the Treasury during the Obama Administration. The report quotes statements made by Bauer to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, in which she said that “these investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking the boat with Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.”

The report, however, did not say that Bauer currently works at a research institute founded by AIPAC, which opposes the nuclear deal. David Asher, one of the founders of the operation against Hezbollah, called the Cassandra Project, was also quoted, as saying that the closer they got to a deal with Iran, the more operations were cancelled. Today Asher works at the Foundations for the Defense of Democracy, a think tank that testified before Congress 17 times against the nuclear deal.

The Politico report was based on a number of interviews, according to which the DEA tracked Hezbollah’s criminal activities including cocaine trafficking and money laundering for eight years. They evidence showed that Hezbollah’s inner circle and Iran’s supporters were involved in these activities — but that the administration prevented or delayed arrests and investigations into Hezbollah operatives.

 https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/1.829978

 

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