TBR News July 6, 2018

Jul 06 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8

Washington, D.C. July 6, 2018: “Trump has been insulting Elizabeth Warren about her Native American background in as crude a manner as possible. On the subject of ancestry, one should consider that the current American President is directly descended from the German Trumpf family. His ancestor in the direct line was Johannes Trump(f), a native of the village of Kallstadt.

The same Trumpf family also produced one Arnold Wilhelm August Trumpf.

Arnold Trumpf was Vorstand Reichsverband Deutscher Landwirtschaftlicher Genossenschaften-Raiffensene.V and Hauptabteilungsleiter III of the Reichsnahrstand, and was a member of the Allegemeine SS since 1934.

Trumpf was also a director of the Reichsbank.

SS background of Arnold Trumpf:

SS-Oberführer / Leutnant d.R. a.D.

Born: 27. Oct. 1892 in Gifhorn

Died: 7. January 1985 in Garmish-Partenkirchen

NSDAP-Nr.: 389 920 from 1, December 1930

SS-Nr.: 187 119


SS-Oberfuhrer: 30. Jan. 1939


Bei dem RuS-Hauptamt: (9. Nov. 1944)

Decorations & Awards:

1914 Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse

Kriegsverdienstkreuz II. Klasse ohne Schwerter

Verwundetenabzeichen, 1918 in Schwarz

Ehrenkreuz fur Frontkampfer

Ehrendegen des RF SS

Totenkopfring der SS

The RuSHA was founded in 1931 by Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler

Among their duties were:

  • Kidnapping of children suitable for Germanization
  • Population transfers
  • The persecution and liquidation of Jews

The RuSHA also employed Josef Mengele from November 1940 to early 1941, in Department II of its Family Office, where he was responsible for “care of genetic health” and “genetic health tests”


  • http://de.metapedia.org/wiki/Trumpf,_Arnold
  • Das Deutsche Führerlexikon, Otto Stollberg G.m.b.H., Berlin 1934
  • Dienstaltersliste der Schutzstaffel der NSDAP 9, November 1944”



The Table of Contents

  • China blames U.S. for ‘largest-scale trade war’ as tariffs kick in
  • Russia slaps retaliatory duties on US imports
  • Beyond the trade war, US and China fight for economic supremacy
  • Scott Pruitt resigns: The EPA’s chief’s long list of controversies
  • The ethics scandals that eventually forced Scott Pruitt to resign
  • Feeding the Monster
  • U.S. Border Patrol agents stopping and boarding Canadian fishing boats
  • The Coming Mortgage Scandal
  • Judge largely rules for California in ‘sanctuary state’ fight

 China blames U.S. for ‘largest-scale trade war’ as tariffs kick in

July 5, 2018

by Michael Martina and David Lawder


BEIJING/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and China slapped tit-for-tat duties on $34 billion worth of each other’s imports on Friday, with Beijing accusing Washington of triggering the “largest-scale trade war” as the world’s two biggest economies sharply escalated their conflict.

Hours before Washington’s deadline for the tariffs to take effect, U.S. President Donald Trump upped the ante, warning that the United States may ultimately target over $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, or roughly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year.

China’s commerce ministry, in a statement shortly after the U.S. deadline passed at 0401 GMT on Friday, said that it was forced to retaliate, meaning imported U.S. goods including cars, soybeans, and lobsters also faced 25 percent tariffs.

China’s soymeal futures fell more than 2 percent on Friday afternoon before recovering most of those losses, amid initial market confusion over whether Beijing had actually implemented the tariffs, which it later confirmed it had.

“We can probably say that the trade war has officially started,” said Chen Feixiang, professor of applied economics at Shanghai Jiaotong University’s Antai Colege of Economics and Management.

“If this ends at $34 billion, it will have a marginal effect on both economies, but if it escalates to $500 billion like Trump said then it’s going to have a big impact for both countries.”

Friday’s long-expected tariff volley fueled fear that a prolonged and escalating battle would deal a blow to global trade, investment and growth, while also damaging U.S. farmers who stand to lose revenues and potentially driving up food prices in China.

“Trade war is never a solution,” Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said at a news briefing with Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in Sofia before a summit with 16 central and eastern European countries.

“China would never start a trade war but if any party resorts to an increase of tariffs then China will take measures in response to protect development interests.”

In the run-up to Friday, there was no sign of renewed negotiations between U.S. and Chinese officials, business sources in Washington and Beijing said.

“Our baseline forecast assumes only a modest further escalation in the trade ‘war’ this summer,” Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a Friday note.

“However, we can’t rule out a full-blown, recession-inducing ‘trade war’,” it said.

The dispute has roiled financial markets including stocks, currencies and the global trade of commodities from soybeans to coal in recent weeks.

Chinese shares, battered in the run-up to the tariff deadline, reversed earlier losses to close higher, but the yuan remained weaker against the dollar. Asian equities wobbled but also managed to end up.

China had lodged a case with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the United States, its commerce ministry said in a one-line statement late on Friday.


Importers of American retail goods hit by higher Chinese duties were reluctant to pass the costs on to consumers for now.

An analysis of over four dozen targeted U.S products showed that prices were little changed on Friday afternoon from earlier in the week. The products, all sold on Chinese e-commerce platforms, ranged from pet food to mixed nuts and whiskey.

Ford Motor Co said on Thursday that for now, it will not hike prices of imported Ford and higher-margin luxury Lincoln models in China.

Some Chinese ports had delayed clearing goods from the United States, four sources said on Friday. There did not appear to be any direct instructions to hold up cargoes, but some customs departments were waiting for official guidance on imposing added tariffs, the sources said.

While Chinese state media have slammed Trump’s trade policies and on Friday likened his administration to a “gang of hoodlums,” the simmering conflict has gained little traction on China’s tightly controlled social media, not cracking the 50 top-searched topics on the Twitter-like Weibo platform.


China’s commerce ministry called the U.S. actions “a violation of world trade rules” and said that it had “initiated the largest-scale trade war in economic history.”

Trump has railed against Beijing for intellectual property theft and barriers to entry for U.S. businesses and a $375 billion U.S. trade deficit with China.

“You have another 16 (billion dollars) in two weeks, and then, as you know, we have $200 billion in abeyance and then after the $200 billion, we have $300 billion in abeyance. Ok? So we have 50 plus 200 plus almost 300,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One on Thursday.

Throughout the escalating conflict, China has sought to take the high road, positioning itself as a champion of free trade, but state media ramped-up criticism of Trump on Friday.

“In effect, the Trump administration is behaving like a gang of hoodlums with its shakedown of other countries, particularly China,” the state-run China Daily newspaper said in an English language editorial on Friday.

“Its unruliness looks set to have a profoundly damaging impact on the global economic landscape in the coming decades, unless countries stand together to oppose it.”

A China central bank adviser said the planned U.S. import tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods – $34 billion plus a planned follow-on list worth $16 billion – will cut China’s economic growth by 0.2 percentage points, the official Xinhua news agency reported Friday.

China’s tariff list is heavy on agricultural goods such as soybeans, sorghum and cotton, threatening U.S. farmers in states that backed Trump in the 2016 U.S. election, such as Texas and Iowa.

“This is not economic Armageddon. We will not have to hunt our food with pointy sticks,” Rob Carnell, chief Asia economist at ING, said in a note.

“But it is applying the brakes to a global economy that has less durable momentum than appears to be the case.”

Reporting by Adam Jourdan in SHANGHAI, Michael Martina, Christian Shepherd, Dominique Patton, Elias Glenn and Josephine Mason in BEIJING, David Lawder and Jeff Mason WASHINGTON, Meg Shen in HONG KONG and Tsvetelia Tsolova in SOFIA; Writing by Tony Munroe; Editing by Sam Holmes, Shri Navaratnam and Nick Macfie


Russia slaps retaliatory duties on US imports

July 6, 2018


Moscow has raised tariffs from 25 to 40 percent on some US imports in response to Washington’s move to impose tariffs on Russian steel and aluminum.

“Compensating measures apply as additional, higher rates of import duties from 25 to 40 percent of the price of imported goods. They will cover certain US goods, whose alternatives are produced in Russia,” Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin said, as quoted by TASS news agency.

“In particular, measures apply to certain types of road construction machinery, oil and gas equipment, metalworking and rock drilling tools and optic fiber,” he added.

Russia has the right to impose tariffs on other goods, since the responding levies don’t cover the country’s $537.6 million losses from US steel and aluminium tariffs, according to the Russian minister.

“Currently our higher duties cover only part of the damage – $87.6 million. This is the compensation Russia has the right to under WTO rules,” Oreshkin said.

Russia is expecting a decision from the World Trade Organisation on whether US measures comply with the trade rules of the organization. It can fully retaliate in three years, Oreshkin said.

If the WTO rules the US tariffs were illegal, Russia would levy an additional $450 million worth of US imports. The $87.6 million in tariffs is the amount Russia can levy without the WTO decision, according to the organization’s rules.

The US imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum on major global suppliers, citing national security concerns. The trade penalties of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum took effect from June 1. China, Russia, Japan, India, Turkey and the EU have accused the US of protectionism and threatened to retaliate with levies on US goods.


Beyond the trade war, US and China fight for economic supremacy

Trade frictions between the US and China are getting worse again with a fresh round of tariffs. Yet it’s not just about trade, but something more fundamental

July 6, 2018

by Thomas Straubhaar


Forget about the term “trade war.” After all, we’re not talking about electrical appliances or soybean deliveries. US tariffs on imports from China and retaliatory Chinese tariffs on agricultural products from the US are symbolic acts — good to attract media attention, and bad for the populations concerned.

The current trade conflict is only the most visible sign of a much bigger battle in the epochal race for power, domination and supremacy in the 21st century. What we’re witnessing is the clash of two geopolitical giants, a clash between “America First” and “Made in China.”

Will the United States remain the measure of all things like it has been over the past 150 years, and will the American way of life remain modernity’s gold standard? Or will China be back as the strongest economic power, with Beijing believing that’s the way it should be? For centuries on end, until less than 200 years ago, China was indeed way ahead of the rest economically.

G7? G20? G2!

US President Donald Trump has never concealed his “America First” ambitions. Everything else has been of secondary importance to him and may only be a means to support his main goal — to pursue US interests. And for Trump, there’s only one adversary standing in the way: China. All other nations are small fish in this geopolitical battle. It doesn’t matter to him whether or not G7, G8 or G20 heads of state and government meet for summits that get a lot of media attention. For Trump, it’s always been just G2 — the US and China.

The G2 doctrine is no psychopathic spleen of Trump, to be true. His assessment of things is not much different from what you can find in many geopolitical analysis papers from large parts of the country’s think tanks. The latter have maintained long before Trump came to power that the US and China are the two nations fighting for economic supremacy, with Europe not playing a role in this at all.

Not expected to play a big role either in this fight of the two giants is the World Trade Organization (WTO). That’s sad, as the United States was the driving force behind the post-WWII world trade order. Global trade and the international division of labor picked up markedly when China joined the WTO in 2001.

But neither the US nor China will allow the trade body to stand in their way. And when yet another round of punitive tariffs doesn’t do the trick, the two will use the big guns, such as the manipulation of exchange rates.

From trade war to currency war

It’s not by chance but a very logical thing economically that the Chinese currency, the yuan or renminbi, has lost 7 percent of its value against the dollar within only a couple of weeks. Devaluation is a mighty protectionist tool as it renders punitive tariffs virtually harmless. The yuan’s recent depreciation is nothing less than an import tariff of 7 percent across the board, not just a retaliatory tariff on selected US goods.

At the same time, this depreciation strongly supports Chinese exports to all of the world’s markets as Chinese products there are now 7 percent cheaper. Again, using depreciation means offsetting the impact of Trump’s punitive duties.

A currency war is the continuation of a trade war with heavy-calibered weapons, turning the WTO into a toothless tiger as it does not have any instruments to counter depreciation schemes. Back in 1948, currency wars simply weren’t on the radar of the trade body’s founding members. Back then, the Bretton Woods system of 1944 was still in place with its dollar-pegged fixed exchange rates, and that system was adhered to for another three decades.

Regionalism no way out

The de facto end of the multilateral economic order results in European interests becoming a plaything for the G2 protagonists. When multilateralism was still around, the US and China had a voice, but so did every single country in Europe. Hence Europe’s voting power exceeded that of China and the US by far. In bilateral talks, the law of the strongest will prevail again, and Europe is well-advised not to have any illusions about being spared.

It’s high time to look for new approaches beyond a global free trade system, non-discrimination or the principle of reciprocity. What Europe needs to understand first of all is that regionalism is highly counterproductive. None of the individual countries in the EU including Germany and France has any significant clout on its own in a world of G2 power supremacy. Only by sticking together will Europe have a chance to make its voice heard and protect its own interests against an “America First” strategy and an economic and military heavyweight in Asia.

Thomas Straubhaar is a Swiss economist and migration researcher. He’s a professor for International Economics at the University of Hamburg.


Scott Pruitt resigns: The EPA’s chief’s long list of controversies

July 5, 2018

by Anthony Zurcher North America reporter

BBC News

Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt has resigned after months of inquiries into a range of controversies swirling around him.

Here’s a run-down of the trouble Mr Pruitt faced, how he tried to explain them and just why they got him in so much hot water.

The bargain room for rent

For $50 a night, a Washington tourist might be lucky to get bare-bones accommodation in a seedy motel in a distant suburb. For that same amount, however, Mr Pruitt landed a room for six months last year in a furnished townhouse just a few blocks from the US Capitol.

He only paid for nights he stayed there, and his daughter – who was working as a White House intern – had her own room (with no indication of what, if anything, she paid).

The house is owned by the wife of an energy industry lobbyist, and while Mr Pruitt has insisted that there was no potential conflict of interest, that does not appear to be the case.

Mr Pruitt points to an EPA ethics review that approved his lease, but several agency employees involved have since said they were not given all the relevant information.

Hot water temperature: Boiling. Accepting below-market-rate housing from a deep-pocketed Washington lobbyist with business before your agency? It doesn’t get much swampier than that.

Sirens to clear the traffic

Early in Mr Pruitt’s tenure as EPA chief, he reportedly requested that his motorcade use flashing lights and police sirens to speed trips through Washington-area traffic when he was late for official meetings or rushing to the airport for a flight.

In at least one instance, according to the New York Times, he used it to speed to dinner at a trendy French restaurant.

Per multiple media accounts, the head of Mr Pruitt’s protective detail – a 16-year-veteran of the EPA – objected to the use of the sirens and was subsequently reassigned within the agency.

Agency officials have denied that Mr Pruitt requested the sirens or that their use deviated from government guidelines.

Water temperature: Simmering. In the vast scheme of things this is a relatively minor issue, but demanding traffic-halting motorcades to chic French bistros is the kind of tidbit that can capture the public’s attention.

The travel budget

In his first year as EPA administrator, Mr Pruitt spent more than $168,000 on air travel across the US, including frequent trips to his home state of Oklahoma and several international journeys. He often relied on charter jet service or first-class commercial airline seats because, per the agency, security concerns prevented him from mingling with the masses in coach.

Mr Pruitt spent $36,000 for a military flight from Cincinnati to New York so he could catch a first-class flight to Italy, where he met with foreign leaders and took a private tour of the Vatican.

An EPA spokesperson told the Washington Post that Mr Pruitt’s travels have all been approved by the agency and were needed to spread the administration’s message and hear “directly from people affected by EPA’s regulatory overreach”.

Fox News’ Lukas Mikelionis notes that previous EPA administrators have spent similar figures on their foreign trips, when factoring in higher costs for Mr Pruitt’s round-the-clock security.

Water temperature: Toasty. Extensive use of first-class and charter travel was enough to force Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price out of his job last year, but travel-scandal fatigue may be setting in. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has faced similar allegations and seems secure in his job.

Questionable purchases

Then there are some rather unusual purchases the EPA has made under Mr Pruitt’s tenure. His office spent $5,800 on thumb-print security locks, $1560 for 12 fountain pens and $43,000 for a soundproof phone booth. There was a proposal for $70,000 to replace two desks in his office suite, including one that was bulletproof. In the end, however, the EPA ended up spending $2,000 to refurbish an antique oversize desk for Mr Pruitt that was being stored in a government warehouse.

Water temperature: Tepid. Nothing is going to top Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s since cancelled purchase of a $30,000 dining set for his office, although bulletproof desks and soundproof communications stations do reveal a bit of an obsession with security.

Misuse of staffers

Last year Mr Pruitt reportedly instructed an aide to contact Republican donors and businesses in an effort to find six-figure employment for his wife, Marlyn. In one notable instance detailed by the Washington Post, the EPA chief had his scheduler reach out to the head of the fast-food company Chick-fil-A to explore the possibility of having his wife operate one of their franchises.

Mrs Pruitt, a former school nurse in Oklahoma, performed consulting work for several clients with Republican ties – involvements that could violate ethics rules prohibiting government officials from using their positions for personal financial gain.

Jobs weren’t the only thing Mr Pruitt had staffers hunting for, either. According to congressional testimony, the EPA head instructed his aides to find a new apartment for him, call the Trump hotel to inquire about purchasing a used mattress, buy him fancy snack food, arrange a family vacation to California, pick up his dry cleaning and search for a particular brand of moisturising lotion available only in select Ritz-Carlton hotels.

On multiple occasions staffers reportedly had to use their own credit cards to make purchases for Mr Pruitt and, according to The Washington Post, one staffer was never reimbursed for some of her expenses.

Water temperature: Simmering. Assigning government staffers to conduct personal business during work hours or to provide uncompensated help is a big ethical no-no. If any of the organisations approached for help with Ms Pruitt’s job search had business before the EPA, that would be a particularly egregious violation.

Reassigned staffers

Mr Pruitt’s first security head wasn’t the only senior EPA officials moved to different duties once the new administrator arrived.

Per the New York Times, at least five officials – including one veteran of the Trump presidential campaign – were “reassigned or demoted” or otherwise moved after they questioned the agency’s “spending and management” under Mr Pruitt.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that career EPA employees have been uncomfortable under the direction of a man who had railed against the agency – and filed lawsuits challenging its actions – prior to taking the helm.

Water temperature: Luke-warm. Personality clashes are inevitable, and it’s difficult to determine whether these moves are because of legitimate policy differences or retribution for attempts to prevent wasteful spending and abuse of power.

Rewarded staffers

Two political appointees who followed Mr Pruitt to the EPA from Oklahoma were given sizeable pay boosts, apparently over the objection of the White House.

The EPA used a provision of a clean-drinking-water law to supplement the salaries of the aides – to the tune of $57,000 in one case and $28,000 in another – after the White House had rejected a direct request for a salary increase.

According to The Atlantic magazine, the move angered long-time EPA staffers, who viewed it as a misuse of money allocated by law for hiring scientific and engineering professionals

In a testy interview with Fox News, Mr Pruitt said he only recently learned of the pay boosts for his two close aides and have ordered that they be rescinded. The Washington Post, however, cites EPA officials on background saying the administrator authorised the moves himself.

Water temperature: Steaming. This one probably won’t make much of a dent in public opinion, but the folks in the White House certainly won’t be happy about Mr Pruitt flouting their directives.

His ambition

Mr Pruitt has reportedly been angling for a chance to rise above his current EPA station, potentially seeking to be the next US attorney general if Jeff Sessions, who has fallen into disfavour with the president, were to get the axe.

The rumours were growing thick enough that the president felt compelled to debunk them himself in a Friday morning tweet.

The former Oklahoma attorney general may also have an eye toward his home state, which could explain his frequent visits. There’s a governor’s election there this November, and the former attorney general would rocket to the front of the pack if he threw his hat in the ring.

Water temperature: Cool. Aspirations for higher office are hardly scandalous in Washington, although furtively lobbying for jobs that are currently filled – even when the current occupant is the oft-beleaguered Sessions – is a bit unseemly

Why Pruitt resigned and what happens next?

On Thursday morning CNN quoted an unnamed senior White House official saying that the Pruitt controversies were “inching toward the tipping point”. It turns out that point was very close indeed.

The EPA chief had managed to hold out longer than most expected as a cavalcade of controversies mounted, each alone enough to fell a Cabinet appointee in a past administration.

Mr Pruitt had survived due to a combination of the vigour with which he advanced the conservative goal of paring regulations and weakening the agency and Mr Trump’s natural reluctance to cede to a political outcry.

In the end, however, it was Mr Pruitt who had been weakened beyond repair – hobbled by allegations of abuse of the power and privileges of office. Mr Trump had come to Washington pledging to “drain the swamp”, and Democrats – with mid-term elections looming – were poised to point to Mr Pruitt as a prime example of how the swamp had consumed the president and Republicans in general.

With Andrew Wheeler – a former coal industry lobbyist – set to run the agency for the immediate future, little will probably change as far as policies and priorities within the EPA. Many Republicans in Washington, who were growing uneasy with Mr Pruitt’s seemingly never-ending bad press, will surely be happy with the change.

Their relief, however, may be tinged with a certain amount of regret. Mr Pruitt had proven to be an effective champion of the conservative fight against the EPA – and even environmentalists had recognised him as a formidable adversary.

Mr Pruitt himself had aspirations for higher office – either within the administration or back home in Oklahoma. While political careers these days are rarely permanently ended, at least for the moment his has been seriously derailed.


The ethics scandals that eventually forced Scott Pruitt to resign

Pruitt was accused of a litany of corrupt practices, any one of which would have ended the career of an ordinary politician

July 5, 2018

by Sam Wolfson

The Guardian

After months of scandals, investigations and public protest, Scott Pruitt has finally resigned as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. During his relatively short time in the role, he was accused of a litany of corrupt practices, illegal activities and misuse of public funds, any one of which would have ended the career of an ordinary politician. Pruitt was far from ordinary, though. He had such an apparent disregard for government ethics and political norms, that many questioned whether he would ever leave office. But as CNN reported that Pruitt had kept a secret diary of meetings he didn’t want the public to know about because he thought it would “look bad”, his Teflon finally flaked away

This is what it took for him to finally step down.

The condo situation

The scandal from which it all began. Pruitt got a steal on a Washington DC condo, paying just $50 a night in rent, way below market rates. The only catch: the condo belonged to the wife of J Steven Hart, a major oil lobbyist who represents Exxon, Cheniere Energy and other companies that are regulated by the EPA. The arrangement was a clear conflict of interest, but Pruitt claimed it was above board because Hart had no clients with business before the EPA, although it later emerged that was not true.

He used public money to live like a Hollywood mogul

Pruitt has spent hundreds of thousands on first-class flights, chartered jets and expensive renovations. He has repeatedly refused to fly coach class on trips, instead racking up over $100,000 on first-class plane tickets and a further $58,000 on private and chartered planes. He also spent $43,000 on the creation and installation of a custom-made soundproof booth in the EPA, so he could have private conversations. Pruitt also spent $1,500 on 12 pens bearing his signature.

The EPA inspector general is currently looking into his spending and has already had to expand the scope of the investigation as further spending allegations have emerged.

He repeatedly broke the law  

Pruitt’s disregard for government ethics was impressive, even by the standards of the Trump administration. It’s believed he was using four separate email accounts, some of which may not have been secure or properly archived. The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, an NGO, has filed a lawsuit that claims Pruitt deliberately avoided creating written records of meetings so they could not be archived or subject to oversight. The lawsuit also claims Pruitt “uses phones other than his own to deal with important EPA-related matters so the calls do not show up in his call logs”.

His security detail cost taxpayers millions

Pruitt demanded a 20-member full-time security detail, costing over $3m, far more than any previous EPA administrator has spent on security in a similar time period. Much of that spending came from huge overtime bills, a result of Pruitt’s demand for 24-hour protection. This included family trips to Disneyland and the Rose Bowl when Pruitt wasn’t engaged in any public business (Pruitt’s Rose Bowl tickets were donated by a major oil PR, an arrangement that is also under investigation.)

Whenever Pruitt or his aides have been questioned about these arrangements, they have claimed that Pruitt is so hated by the American public that he is in constant danger. An EPA spokesman, Jahan Wilcox, pointed to the “unprecedented” number of death threats Pruitt has received.

He treated experienced EPA staff like his snack servants

Four separate sources told the Daily Beast that Pruitt would send staff out to get protein bars, cookies and yoghurts for him. He would not be satisfied with a run to the vending machines, either – Pruitt demanded they visit upmarket grocery chain Dean & DeLuca instead. The Washington Post also reported that he would send his security detail on bizarre personal errands, including fetching him hand lotion that is only available at Ritz Carlton hotels.

… except for the personal aides he gave huge raises to

When Pruitt wanted to give two of his closest aides, Sarah Greenwalt and Millan Hupp, huge salary bumps, raising their pay to $164,200 and $114,590 respectively, he had to seek White House permission. When the White House refused, he found an obscure piece of legislation, worked into the 1996 Clean Water Act, that allowed a small number of roles in the EPA to be appointed without White House approval so that, for example, experts could be quickly hired in a time of crisis. Pruitt used the legislation to arrange raises for his aides.

He used EPA resources to try to find his wife a job

Samantha Dravis, a senior EPA administrator, told investigators that she was tasked by her boss with finding his wife a job, one that paid at least $200,000. That was after Pruitt had already been exposed for organizing a meeting with the CEO of Chick-fil-A to discuss “a potential business opportunity”. It emerged that he actually just wanted to find out if his wife could become a franchisee.

Even when he was corruptly using public money, he was still a cheapskate

A number of EPA staff told the Washington Post that Pruitt made them charge his hotel rooms to their personal cards, and then refused to reimburse them. This was particularly an issue for Pruitt’s former executive scheduler, Sydney Hupp, who often had to shell out for Pruitt’s trips. Hupp was also asked by Pruitt to speak with staff at one of Trump’s hotels, believing he could get a deal on a secondhand mattress they were selling.

Pruitt remained miserly even when he was abusing his position to get a good deal. He fell behind on the rental payments on the condo he was getting on the cheap and eventually had to be evicted and the locks were changed.


Feeding the Monster

Washington’s spinelessness enables Israeli brutality

July 3, 2018

by Philip Giraldi

The Unz Review

I have just spent a couple of days in New York City. Returning to Virginia on Wednesday morning, I had a somewhat strange experience. I cleared through my emails before leaving the hotel and also read through a number of the featured news articles. One, in particular, caught my eye. It described how the Democratic Party primary in Queens New York had returned a startling result. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won over mainstream incumbent Joe Crowley, signaling that not everyone in the Democratic Party is buying into the Clinton model of good governance by big donors and powerful interest groups. Many want change and even a radical departure from the political game whereby media savvy pressure groups and narrow constituencies are pandered to to create a governing majority.

One paragraph in particular in the article I read was highly suggestive, the claim that Ocasio-Cortez had been strongly opposed to the Israelis’ routine slaughter of Palestinians in Gaza, which has by now become of such little import that it is not even reported any more in the U.S. media. She is also allegedly a supporter of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction movement (BDS), which pressures Israel to end its theft and occupation of Palestinian land. The article expressed some surprise that anyone in New York City would dare to say anything unpleasant about Israel and still expect to get elected.

This is what Ocasio-Cortez, who called the shooting of more than 130 Gazans a “massacre,” actually said and wrote:

“No state or entity is absolved of mass shootings of protesters. There is no justification. Palestinian people deserve basic human dignity, as anyone else. Democrats can’t be silent about this anymore. I think I was primarily compelled [to speak out] on moral grounds because I could only imagine if 60 people were shot and killed in Ferguson. Or if 60 people were shot and killed in the West Virginia teachers’ strikes. The idea that we are not supposed to talk about people dying when they are engaging in political expression just really moved me.”

Five hours later, when I arrived home in Virginia I went to pull up the article I had read in the morning to possibly use it in a piece of my own and was somewhat surprised to discover that the bit about Israel had been excised from the text. It was clearly yet another example of how the media self-censors when there is anything negative to say about Israel and it underlines the significance of the emergence of recent international media reporting in The Guardian and elsewhere regarding how Jewish billionaire Sheldon Adelson largely dictates U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. That means that the conspiracy of silence over Israel’s manipulation of the United States government is beginning to break down and journalists have become bold enough to challenge what occurs when pro-Israel Jews obtain real power over the political process. Adelson, for what it’s worth, wants war with Iran and has even suggested detonating a nuclear device on its soil to “send a message.”

I personally would have liked to see Ocasio-Cortez go farther, a lot farther. Israel is a place where conventional morality has been replaced by a theocratically and culturally driven sense of entitlement which has meant that anything goes when it comes to the treatment of inferior Christian and Muslim Arabs. It also means that the United States is being played for a patsy by people who believe themselves to be superior in every way to Americans.

The question of the relationship with Israel comes at a time when everyone in America, so it seems, is concerned about children being separated from their parents who have illegally crossed the border from Mexico into the United States. The concern is legitimate given the coarse and sometimes violent justifications coming out of the White House, but it’s a funny thing that Israeli abuse and even killing of Arab children is not met with the same opprobrium. When a Jewish fanatic/Israel settler kills Palestinian children and is protected by his government in so doing, where is the outrage in the U.S. media? Settlers and soldiers kill Palestinians, young and old, with impunity and are almost never punished. They destroy their orchards and livestock to eliminate their livelihoods to drive them out. They bulldoze their homes and villages. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency does none of that and is yet subject to nonstop abuse in the mainstream media, so what about Israel?

A recent story illustrates just how horrible the Israelis can be without any pushback whatsoever coming from Washington objecting to their behavior. As the United States is the only force that can in any way compel Israel to come to its senses and chooses not to do so, that makes U.S. policymakers and by extension the American people complicit in Israel’s crimes.

The particularly horrible recent account that I am referring to describes how fanatical Jewish settlers burned alive a Palestinian family on the West Bank, including a baby, and then celebrated the deaths while taunting the victims’ surviving family when they subsequently appeared in court. The story was covered in Israel and Europe but insofar as I could determine did not appear in any detail in the U.S. mainstream media.

Israeli Jewish settlers carried out their shameful deed outside a court in the city of Lod, chanting “’Ali was burned, where is Ali? There is no Ali. Ali is burned. On the fire. Ali is on the grill!” referring to the 18-month old baby Ali Dawabsheh, who was burnt alive in 2015 by Jewish settlers hurling Molotov cocktails into a house in the West Bank town of Duma. Ali’s mother Riham and father Saad also died of their burns and were included in the chanting “Where is Ali? Where is Riham? Where is Saad? It’s too bad Ahmed didn’t burn as well.” Five year-old Ahmed, who alone survived the attack with severe burns, will have scars for the rest of his life.

The settlers were taunting Ali’s grandfather Hussein Dawabsheh, who accompanied Ahmed, at a preliminary hearing where the court indicted a man who confessed to the murders and a minor who acted as an accomplice. A video of the chanting shows Israeli policemen standing by and doing nothing. The court appearance also revealed that there have been another Molotov cocktail attack by settlers on another Dawabsheh family house in May that may have been an attempt to silence testimony relating to the first attack. Fortunately, the family managed to escape.

And by all accounts this outrage was not the first incident in which the burning of the Palestinian baby was celebrated. A December 15th wedding video showed settlers engaged in an uproarious party that featured dances with Molotov cocktails and waving knives and guns. A photo of baby Ali was on display and was repeatedly stabbed. A year later, 13 people from what became known as the “murder wedding” were indicted for incitement to terrorism, but as of today no one has actually been punished. Israelis who kill Arabs are rarely indicted or tried. If it is a soldier or policeman that is involved, which occurs all too often, the penalty is frequently either nothing at all a slap on the wrist. Indeed, the snipers who fired on Gazans recently were actually ordered to shoot the unarmed civilians and directed to take out anyone who appeared to be a “leader,” which included medical personnel.

The Trump Administration could, of course, stop the Israeli brutality if it chooses to do so, but it does not think Benjamin Netanyahu’s crimes against humanity are on the agenda. Nor did Clinton, Bush and Obama dare to confront the power of Israel’s lobby, though Obama tried a little pushback in a feeble way.

Someone in Washington should be asking why the United States should be fighting unnecessary wars and becoming an international pariah defending a country and people that believe they are “chosen” by God? One can only hope that the shift in perceptions on the Middle East by liberal Democrats like Ocasio-Cortez has some legs and will lead to some real change in U.S. foreign policy. To succeed the liberal Democrats will need to push against some formidable obstacles within their own party, most notably the Clinton wing and people like Senator Chuck Schumer, Minority leader in the Senate, who describes himself as Israel’s “shomer” or defender in the Upper House. Perhaps someone on the New York Times editorial board should publicly suggest to Schumer that he go and run for office in Israel since he seems to prefer it to the country that has made him rich and powerful. But of course, the Times and all the other mainstream media, which is responsible for what we are not allowed to know about Israel and its American mouthpieces, will never entertain that suggestion or anything like it.


U.S. Border Patrol agents stopping and boarding Canadian fishing boats

July 4, 2018

The Canadian Press

GRAND MANAN, N.B. — At least 10 Canadian fishing boats from New Brunswick have been intercepted by U.S. Border Patrol agents since last week while fishing in the disputed waters around Machias Seal Island, a spokesperson for the fishermen says.

Laurence Cook, chairman of the advisory board for Lobster Fishing Area 38, said Wednesday that some Canadian vessels were boarded by American agents who asked about possible illegal immigrants.

“There’s been a bit of a misunderstanding there somewhere,” Cook said in an interview. “They’re in international waters, so border patrol shouldn’t be boarding Canadian vessels.”

Machias Seal Island, which is about 19 kilometres southwest of Grand Manan Island and east of Maine, is in a disputed area known as the Grey Zone, where lobster fishermen from both Canada and the United States have long fished side by side.

However, both Canada and the United States claim sovereign jurisdiction over the island and the surrounding waters at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy.

It’s a cross-border dispute that dates back to the American Revolution in the late 1700s.

As lucrative lobster catches have increased in the zone, competition between fishermen has intensified.

“Neither country accepts that there is a Grey Zone,” said Stephen Kelly, a research scholar at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and a former American diplomat who served in Canada. “That’s created more tension in the area over the last decade.”

Kelly said both countries have done very little to assert their claims.

“Sometimes doing nothing is better,” he said. “But in this case, just because it looks like it’s not broken can be very deceiving — especially with our new president in the United States. The last thing Canada wants is for Donald Trump to seize on this as an example of U.S. sovereignty being challenged.”

On Grand Manan, local residents are speaking out about the U.S. intervention, said Cook.

“I guess the comment on the street would be: ‘Typical American bullies,'” he said. “They’re not happy about it, and they don’t think (the Americans) have any business doing this.”

Cook said he’s never before seen border patrol agents in the area, where the U.S. Coast Guard typically patrols.

Global Affairs Canada distributed a brief statement saying it is investigating “these incidents that occurred in Canadian waters.”

Spokesman John Babcock said the Canadian government is also talking with U.S. agencies, though he did not provide details about the fishermen’s allegations or Ottawa’s response.

“Canada’s sovereignty over the Machias Seal Island and the surrounding waters is long standing and has a strong foundation in international law,” Babcock said.

“Until the matter of the boundary is resolved, we will continue to take practical steps with the U.S. to ensure that the area is well managed. Canada and the U.S. have a long history of co-operation which ensures that fishing in this area is well-managed and safe for both countries.”

The Grand Manan Fishermen’s Association issued a statement late Wednesday that used much the same language. As well, the group suggested the actions of the U.S. agents may have been routine.

“We understand that a few Grand Manan fishermen were approached by the United State Border Services during the month of June. Our understanding is that this was a part of a regular exercise being conducted along the U.S. marine border.”

The association said it has enjoyed a respectful and cordial relationship with its U.S. counterparts.

“We look forward to continuing with that relationship,” the group’s statement said.


The Coming Mortgage Scandal

July 6, 2018

by Christin JUürs

Although only bankers are aware of it, there is a second wave of economic disaster starting to build up that will make the earlier one pale into insignificance. Let us start out with MERS, shall we?

MERS = Mortgage Electronic Registration Inc.holds approximately 60 million Amerrican mortgages and is a Delaware corporation whose sole shareholder is Mers Corp. MersCorp and its specified members have agreed to include the MERS corporate name on any mortgage that was executed in conjunction with any mortgage loan made by any member of MersCorp. Thus in place of the original lender being named as the mortgagee on the mortgage that is supposed to secure their loan, MERS is named as the “nominee” for the lender who actually loaned the money to the borrower. In other words MERS is really nothing more than a name that is used on the mortgage instrument in place of the actual lender. MERS’ primary function, therefore, is to act as a document custodian. MERS was created solely to simplify the process of transferring mortgages by avoiding the need to re-record liens – and pay county recorder filing fees – each time a loan is assigned. Instead, servicers record loans only once and MERS’ electronic system monitors transfers and facilitates the trading of notes. It has very conserbatively estimated that as of February, 2010, over half of all new residential mortgage loans in the United States are registered with MERS and recorded in county recording offices in MERS’ name

MersCorp was the created in the early 1990’s by the former C.E.O.’s of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Indy Mac, Countrywide, Stewart Title Insurance and the American Land Title Association. The executives of these companies lined their pockets with billions of dollars of unearned bonuses and free stock by creating so-called mortgage backed securities using bogus mortgage loans to unqualified borrowers thereby creating a huge false demand for residential homes and thereby falsely inflating the value of those homes. MERS marketing claims that its “paperless systems fit within the legal framework of the laws of all fifty states” are now being vetted by courts and legal commentators throughout the country.

The MERS paperless system is the type of crooked rip-off scheme that is has been seen for generations past in the crooked financial world. In this present case, MERS was created in the boardrooms of the most powerful and controlling members of the American financial institutions. This gigantic scheme completely ignored long standing law of commerce relating to mortgage lending and did so for its own prsonal gain. That the inevitable collapse of the crooked mortgage swindles would lead to terrible national reprecussions was a matter of little or no interest to the upper levels of America’s banking and financial world because the only interest of these entities was to grab the money of suckers, keep it in the form of ficticious bonuses, real estate and very large accounts in foreign banks.. The effect of this system has led to catastrophic metldown on both the American and global economy.

MERS, it has clearly been proven in many civil cases, does not hold any promissory notes of any kind.. A party must have possession of a promissory note in order to have standing to enforce and/or otherwise collect a debt that is owed to another party. Given this clear-cut legal definition,  MERS does not have legal standing to enforce or collect on the over 60 million mortgages it controls and no member of MERS has any standing in an American civil court.

MERS has been taken to civil courts across the country and charged with a lack of standing in reprossion issues. When the mortgage debacle initially, and invevitably, began, MERS always rotinely broght actions against defauilting mortgage holders purporting to represent the owners of the defaulted mortgages but once the courts discovered that MERS was only a front organization that did not hold any deed nor was aware of who or what agencies might hold a deed, they have been routinely been denied in their attempts to force foreclosure.  In the past, persons alleging they were officials of MERS in foreclosure motions, purported to be the holders of the mortgage, when, in fact, they nor only were not the holder of the mortgage but, under a court order, could not produce the identity of the actual holder. These so-called MERS officers have usually been just employees of entities who are servicing the loan for the actual lender. MERS, it is now widely acknowledged by the courty, has no legal right to foreclose or otherwise collect debt which are evidenced by promissory notes held by someone else.

The American media routinely identifies MERS as a mortgage lender, creditor, and mortgage company, when in point of fact MERS has never loaned so much as a dollar to anyone, is not a creditor and is not a mortgage company. MERS is merely a name that is printed on mortgages, purporting to give MERS some sort of legal status, in the matter of a loan made by a completely different and almost always,a totally unknown enitity.

The infamous collapse of the American housing bubble originated, in the main, with one Angelo Mozilo, CEO of the later failed Countrywide Mortgage.

Mozilo started working in his father’s butcher shop, in the Bronx, when he was ten years old. He graduated from Fordham in 1960, and that year he met David Loeb.. In 1968, Mozilo and Loeb created a new mortgage company, Countrywide, together. Mozilo believed the company should make special efforts to lower the barrier for minorities and others who had been excluded from homeownership. Loeb died in 2003

In 1996, Countrywide created a new subsidiary for subprime loans.

Countrywide Financial’s former management

  • Angelo R. Mozilo, cofounder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer
  • David S. Loeb, cofounder, President and Chairman from 1969 to 2000
  • David Sambol, president, chief operating officer, director
  • Eric P. Sieracki, chief financial officer, executive managing director
  • Jack Schakett, executive managing director, chief operating officer
  • Kevin Bartlett, executive managing director, chief investment officer
  • Andrew Gissinger, executive managing director, chief production officer, Countrywide Home Loans
  • Sandor E. Samuels, executive managing director, chief legal officer and assistant secretary
  • Ranjit Kripalani, executive managing director and president, Capital Markets
  • Laura K. Milleman, senior managing director, chief accounting officer
  • Marshall Gates, senior managing director, chief administrative officer
  • Timothy H. Wennes, senior managing director, president and chief operating officer, Countrywide Bank FSB
  • Anne D. McCallion, senior managing director, chief of financial operations and planning
  • Steve Bailey, senior managing director of loan administration, Countrywide Home Loans

The standard Countrywide procedure was to openly solicit persons who either had no credit or could not obtain it, and, by the use of false credit reports drawn up in their offices, arrange mortgages. The new home owners were barely able to meet the minimum interest only payments and when, as always happens, the mortgage payments are increased to far, far more than could be paid, defaults and repossessions were inevitable. Countrywide sold these mortgages to lower-tier banks which in turn, put them together in packages and sold them to the large American banks. These so-called “bundled mortgages” were quickly sold these major banking houses to many foreign investors with the comments that when the payments increased, so also would the income from the original mortgage. In 1996, Countrywide created a new subsidiary for subprime loans..

At one point in time,Countrywide Financial Corporation was regarded with awe in the business world. In 2003, Fortune observed that Countrywide was expected to write $400 billion in home loans and earn $1.9 billion. Countrywide’s chairman and C.E.O., Angelo Mozilo, did rather well himself. In 2003, he received nearly $33 million in compensation. By that same year, Wall Street had become addicted to home loans, which bankers used to create immensely lucrative mortgage-backed securities and, later, collateralized debt obligations, or C.D.O.s—and Countrywide was their biggest supplier. Under Mozilo’s leadership, Countrywide’s growth had been astonishing.

He was aiming to achieve a market share—thirty to forty per cent—that was far greater than anyone in the financial-services industry had ever attained. For several years, Countrywide continued to thrive. Then, inevitably, in 2007, subprime defaults began to rocket upwards , forcing the top American bankers to abandoned the mortgage-backed securities they had previously prized. It was obvious to them that the fraudulent mortgages engendered by Countrywide had been highly suceessful as a marketinig program but it was obvious to eveyone concerned, at all levels, that the mortgages based entirely on false and misleading credit information were bound to eventually default. In August of 2007, the top American bankers cut off

Countrywide’s short-term funding, which seriously hindered its ability to operate, and in just a few months following this abandonment,  Mozilo was forced to choose between bankruptcy or selling out to the best bidder.. In January, 2008, Bank of America announced that it would buy the company for a fraction of what Countrywide was worth at its peak. Mozilo was subsequently named a defendant in more than a hundred civil lawsuits and a target of a criminal investigation. On June 4th, 2007 the S.E.C., in a civil suit, charged Mozilo, David Sambol, and Eric Sieracki with securities fraud; Mozilo was also charged with insider trading. The complaint formalized a public indictment of Mozilo as an icon of corporate malfeasance and greed.

In essence, not only bad credit risks were used to create and sell mortgages on American homes that were essentially worthless. By grouping all of these together and selling them abroad, the banks all made huge profits. When the kissing had to stop, there were two major groups holding the financial bag. The first were the investors and the second were, not those with weak credit, but those who had excellent credit and who were able, and willing to pay off their mortgages.

Unfortunately, as no one knows who owns the title to any home, when the legitimate mortgage holder finally pays off his mortgage, or tries to sell his house, a clear title to said house or property cannot ever be found so, in essence, the innocent mortgage payer can never own or sell his house. This is a terrible economic time bomb quietly ticking away under the feet of the Bank of America and if, and when, it explodes, another bank is but a fond memory.


Judge largely rules for California in ‘sanctuary state’ fight

July 5, 2018

by Tom Hals


(Reuters) – California’s “sanctuary state” laws largely survived a legal attack by the Trump administration on Thursday after a federal judge declined to block state measures aimed at thwarting cooperation with Washington’s crackdown on illegal immigration.

But the judge, John Mendez of U.S. District Court in Sacramento, also rebuked lawmakers, saying that the immigration issue could not ultimately be settled in the courts and said elected leaders needed to put aside differences and forge legislation.

California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed into law in October measures that, among other things, prevent police from inquiring about immigration status and curtailing law enforcement cooperation with immigration officers.

The law extended to the entire state protections for illegal immigrants that exist in several so-called sanctuary cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

On Thursday, Mendez largely sided with the state against the Trump administration, which was seeking an injunction to prevent California from enforcing the measures.

Mendez did, however, issue an injunction that bars California officials from imposing fines of up to $10,000 on employers who grant immigration officials access to a private workplace or to employment records.

U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley called the ruling blocking the fines a “major victory for private employers in California who are no longer prevented from cooperating with legitimate enforcement of our nation’s immigration laws.”

The Department of Justice will continue to fight “unjust policies that threaten public safety,” O’Malley said in a statement.

The judge, in his 60-page ruling, said he hoped his order would “not be viewed through a political lens” and said a long-term immigration solution could not come from “piecemeal opinions issued by the judicial branch.”

Mendez said he was joining “the ever-growing chorus” of judges urging elected officials to set aside polarizing politics and work in a cooperative fashion toward passing immigration legislation. “Our nation deserves it,” wrote the judge, who was appointed by President George W. Bush. “Our Constitution demands it.”

The Justice Department had sued California in March, taking aim at three laws that the administration said violated the U.S. Constitution.

California, the country’s most populous state, leads the nation in its population of illegal immigrants, with more than 2.3 million people lacking legal status, according to the Pew Research Center.

The Trump administration has been battling hundreds of cities and other jurisdictions, many Democratic-governed, that have adopted sanctuary policies.

Thursday’s ruling follows a several legal setbacks for the administration over sanctuary cities. In April, a federal appeals court said the administration cannot deny public safety grants to cities that limit cooperation with the Trump administration, in a case brought by Chicago.

Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Leslie Adler

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