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TBR News March 2, 2017

Mar 02 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. March 2, 2017: “The ongoing war of the billionaires in becoming boring.

On the one hand, we have George Soros pouring vast sums of his money into his satellite organizations in order for them to do their best to disrupt Donald Trump and on the other, we have Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post who is using his money to do the same thing.

On the opposite side of the fence is billionaire Donald Trump who became president despite all his political  enemies’  frantic attempts to foist a physically and morally sick Hillary Clinton on the electorate.

Trump gave an excellent speech before Congress and in due time, his detractors will discover that President Trump has a very long arm and the ability to use it.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

 

Table of Contents

  • How the Press Serves the Deep State
  • FULL SPEECH: President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress
  • CIA honors Saudi for fighting terror, despite nation’s terror ties
  • Wahhabism, ISIS, and the Saudi Connection
  • The morally reprehensible rehabilitation of George W. Bush
  • Bitcoin’s “creator” races to patent technology with gambling tycoon

 How the Press Serves the Deep State

Mainstream U.S. media is proud to be the Deep State’s tip of the spear pinning President Trump to the wall over unproven allegations about Russia and his calls for detente, a rare point where he makes sense

March 1, 2017

by Daniel Lazare

consortiumnews

The New York Times has made it official. In a Sunday front-page article entitled “Trump Ruled the Tabloid Media. Washington Is a Different Story,” the paper gloats that Donald Trump has proved powerless to stop a flood of leaks threatening to capsize his administration.

As reporters Glenn Thrush and Michael M. Grynbaum put it: “This New York-iest of politicians, now an idiosyncratic, write-your-own-rules president, has stumbled into the most conventional of Washington traps: believing he can master an entrenched political press corps with far deeper connections to the permanent government of federal law enforcement and executive department officials than he has.”

Thrush and Grynbaum add a few paragraphs later that Trump “is being force-fed lessons all presidents eventually learn – that the iron triangle of the Washington press corps, West Wing staff and federal bureaucracy is simply too powerful to bully.”

Iron triangle? Permanent government? In its tale of how Trump went from being a favorite of the New York Post and Daily News to fodder for the big-time Washington news media, the Times seems to be going out of its way to confirm dark paranoid fears of a “deep state” lurking behind the scenes and dictating what political leaders can and cannot do. “Too powerful to bully” by a “write-your-own-rules president” is another way of saying that the permanent government wants to do things its way and will not put up with a president telling it to take a different approach.

Entrenched interests are nothing new, of course. But a major news outlet bragging about collaborating with such elements in order to cripple a legally established government is. The Times was beside itself with outrage when top White House adviser Steve Bannon described the media as “the opposition party.” But one can’t help but wonder what all the fuss is about since an alliance aimed at hamstringing a presidency is nothing if not oppositional.

If so, a few things are worth keeping in mind. One is that Trump was elected, even if only by an Eighteenth-Century relic known as the Electoral College, whereas the deep state, permanent government, or whatever else you want to call it was not. Where Trump gave speeches, kissed babies, and otherwise sought out the vote, the deep state did nothing. To the degree this country is still a democracy, that must count for something. So if the conflict between president and the deep state ever comes down to a question of legitimacy, there is no doubt who will come out ahead: The Donald.

A second thing worth keeping in mind is that if ever there was a case of the unspeakable versus the inedible (to quote Oscar Wilde), the contest between a billionaire president and billionaire-owned press is it.

Both sides are more or less correct in what they say about the other. Trump really is a strongman at war with basic democratic norms just as innumerable Times op-ed articles say he is. And giant press organization like the Times and the Washington Post are every bit as biased and one-sided as Trump maintains – and no less willfully gullible, one might add, than in 2002 or 2003 when they happily swallowed every lie put out by the George W. Bush administration regarding Iraqi WMDs or Saddam Hussein’s support for Al Qaeda.

Riveting TV

Trump’s Feb. 16 press conference – surely the most riveting TV since Jerry Springer was in his prime – is a case in point. The President bobbed, weaved, and hurled abuse like a Catskills insult comic. He threw out pseudo-facts, describing his victory, for instance, as “the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan” when in fact George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all got more votes. But commentators who panned the display as a “freak show” or simply “batshit crazy” didn’t get it. It wasn’t Trump who bombed that afternoon, but the press.

Why? Because reporters behaved with all the intelligence of a pack of Jack Russell terriers barking at a cat up a tree. Basically, they’ve been seized by the idée fixe that Russia is a predator state that hacks elections, threatens U.S. national security, and has now accomplished the neat trick of planting a Kremlin puppet in the Oval Office. It doesn’t matter that evidence is lacking or that the thesis defies common sense. It’s what they believe, what their editors believe, and what the deep state believes too (or at least pretends to). So the purpose of the Feb. 16 press conference was to pin Trump down as to whether he also believes the Russia-did-it thesis and pillory him for deviating from the party line.

More than half the questions that reporters threw out were thus about Russia, about Mike Flynn, the ex-national security adviser who got into trouble for talking to the Russian ambassador before the new administration formally took office, or about reputed contacts between the Trump campaign staff and Moscow. One reporter thus demanded to know if anyone from Trump’s campaign staff had ever spoken with the Russian government or Russian intelligence. Another asked if Trump had requested FBI telephone intercepts before determining that Flynn had not broken the law.

“I just want to get you to clarify this very important point,” said a third. “Can you say definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign?” A fourth wanted to get the President’s reaction to such “provocations” as a Russian communications vessel floating 30 miles off the coast of Connecticut (in international waters). “Is Putin testing you, do you believe, sir?” the reporter asked as if he had just uncovered a Russian agent in the Lincoln Bedroom. “…But do they damage the relationship?  Do they undermine this country’s ability to work with Russia?”

When yet another journalist asked yet again “whether you are aware that anyone who advised your campaign had contacts with Russia during the course of the election,” Trump cried out in frustration: “How many times do I have to answer this question?” It was the most intelligent query of the day.

The press played straight into Trump’s hands, all but providing him with his best lines. “Well, I guess one of the reasons I’m here today is to tell you the whole Russian thing, that’s a ruse,” he responded at one point. “That’s a ruse. And by the way, it would be great if we could get along with Russia, just so you understand that. Now tomorrow, you’ll say, ‘Donald Trump wants to get along with Russia, this is terrible.’ It’s not terrible. It’s good.”

The prose may not be very polished, but the sentiments are unassailable. Ditto Trump’s statement a few minutes later that “false reporting by the media, by you people, the false, horrible, fake reporting makes it much harder to make a deal with Russia. … And that’s a shame because if we could get along with Russia – and by the way, China and Japan and everyone – if we could get along, it would be a positive thing, not a negative thing.”

If the Washington Post and the Times do not agree that bogus assertions about unauthorized contacts with Russia are not poisoning the atmosphere, they should explain very clearly why not. They should also explain what they hope to accomplish with a showdown with Russia and why it will not be a step toward World War III.

But they won’t, of course. The media (with encouragement from parts of the U.S. government) are working themselves into a fit of outrage against Vladimir Putin just as, in past years, they did against Daniel Ortega, Manuel Noriega, Saddam Hussein, Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein (again), Muammar Gaddafi, Bashar al-Assad, and Viktor Yanukovych. In each instance, the outcome has been war, and so far the present episode shows all signs of heading in the same direction as well.

Reporters may be clueless, but working-class Americans aren’t. They don’t want a war because they’re the ones who would have to fight it. So they’re not unsympathetic to Trump and all the more inclined to give the yapping media short shrift.

This is a classic pattern in which strongmen advance on the basis of a liberal opposition that proves to be weak and feckless. Today’s liberal media are obliging Trump by behaving in a way that is even sillier than usual and well ahead of schedule to boot.

A Fragile Meme

The anti-Russia meme, meanwhile, rests on the thinnest of foundations. The argument that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee and thereby tipped the election to Trump is based on a single report by CrowdStrike, the California-based cyber-security firm hired by the DNC to look into the mass email leak. The document is festooned with head-spinning techno-jargon.

It says of Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, the hackers who allegedly penetrated the DNC in behalf of Russian intelligence: “Their tradecraft is superb, operational security second to none, and the extensive usage of ‘living-off-the-land’ techniques enables them to easily bypass many security solutions they encounter. In particular, we identified advanced methods consistent with nation-state level capabilities including deliberate targeting and ‘access management’ tradecraft – both groups were constantly going back into the environment to change out their implants, modify persistent methods, move to new Command & Control channels, and perform other tasks to try to stay ahead of being detected. Both adversaries engage in extensive political and economic espionage for the benefit of the government of the Russian Federation and are believed to be closely linked to the Russian government’s powerful and highly capable intelligence services.”

Impressive? Not to independent tech experts who have already begun taking potshots. Sam Biddle, The Intercept’s extremely smart tech writer, notes that CrowdStrike claims to have proved that Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear are Russian because they left behind Cyrillic comments in their “metadata” along with the name “Felix Edmundovich,” also in Cyrillic, an obvious reference to Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Cheka, as the Soviet political police were originally known.

But, Biddle observes, there’s an obvious contradiction: “Would a group whose ‘tradecraft is superb’ with ‘operational security second to none’ really leave behind the name of a Soviet spy chief imprinted on a document it sent to American journalists? Would these groups really be dumb enough to leave Cyrillic comments on these documents? …  It’s very hard to buy the argument that the Democrats were hacked by one of the most sophisticated, diabolical foreign intelligence services in history, and that we know this because they screwed up over and over again.”

Indeed, John McAfee, founder of McAfee Associates and developer of the first commercial anti-virus software, casts doubt on the entire enterprise, wondering whether it is possible to identify a hacker at all. “If I were the Chinese,” he told TV interviewer Larry King in late December, “and I wanted to make it look like the Russians did it, I would use Russian language within the code, I would use Russian techniques of breaking into organizations. … If it looks like the Russians did it, then I can guarantee you: it was not the Russians.” (Quote starts at 4:30.)

This may be too sweeping. Nonetheless, if the press really wanted to get to the bottom of what the Russians are doing, they would not begin with the question of what Trump knew and when he knew it. They would begin, rather, with the question of what we know and how we can be sure. It’s the question that the press should have asked during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but failed to. But it’s the question that reporters should be asking now before the conflict with Russia spins out of control, with consequences that are potentially even more horrendous.

It’s not easy making Donald Trump seem like a peacenik, but that’s what the billionaire’s press has done.

FULL SPEECH: President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress

February 28, 2017

by The Hill Staff

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and Citizens of America:

Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our Nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains.  Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.

Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice –- in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present.

That torch is now in our hands.  And we will use it to light up the world.  I am heretonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.

A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning.

A new national pride is sweeping across our Nation.

And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.

What we are witnessing today is the Renewal of the American Spirit.

Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.

All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free.

In 9 years, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our founding — 250 years since the day we declared our Independence.

It will be one of the great milestones in the history of the world.

But what will America look like as we reach our 250th year? What kind of country will we leave for our children?

I will not allow the mistakes of recent decades past to define the course of our future.

For too long, we’ve watched our middle class shrink as we’ve exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries.

We’ve financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit — and so many other places throughout our land.

We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross — and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate.

And we’ve spent trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled.

Then, in 2016, the earth shifted beneath our feet.  The rebellion started as a quiet protest, spoken by families of all colors and creeds -– families who just wanted a fair shot for their children, and a fair hearing for their concerns.

But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus — as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country.

Finally, the chorus became an earthquake – and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first … because only then, can we truly MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

Dying industries will come roaring back to life.  Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need.

Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve.

Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land.

Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and ultimately, stop.

And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety, and opportunity.

Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people.

It’s been a little over a month since my inauguration, and I want to take this moment to update the Nation on the progress I’ve made in keeping those promises.

Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart, and many others, have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.

The stock market has gained almost three trillion dollars in value since the election on November 8th, a record.  We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of the fantastic new F-35 jet fighter, and will be saving billions more dollars on contracts all across our Government.  We have placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential Federal workers.

We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a 5 year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials –- and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government.

We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job‑crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every Government agency; imposing a new rule which mandates that for every 1 new regulation, 2 old regulations must be eliminated; and stopping a regulation that threatens the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners.

We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs — and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.

We have withdrawn the United States from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership.

With the help of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have formed a Council with our neighbors in Canada to help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams.

To protect our citizens, I have directed the Department of Justice to form a Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime.

I have further ordered the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, along with the Department of State and the Director of National Intelligence, to coordinate an aggressive strategy to dismantle the criminal cartels that have spread across our Nation.

We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth — and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.

At the same time, my Administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security.  By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone.  We want all Americans to succeed –- but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos.  We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders.

For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime.

As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens.  Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised.

To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this question:  what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?

Our obligation is to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States. We are also taking strong measures to protect our Nation from Radical Islamic Terrorism.

According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.  We have seen the attacks at home -– from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon and yes, even the World Trade Cente

We have seen the attacks in France, in Belgium, in Germany and all over the world.

It is not compassionate, but reckless, to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur.  Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values.    We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America — we cannot allow our Nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.

That is why my Administration has been working on improved vetting procedures, and we will shortly take new steps to keep our Nation safe — and to keep out those who would do us harm.

As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS — a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women, and children of all faiths and beliefs.  We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.

I have also imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel.

Finally, I have kept my promise to appoint a Justice to the United States Supreme Court — from my list of 20 judges — who will defend our Constitution.  I am honored to have Maureen Scalia with us in the gallery tonight.  Her late, great husband, Antonin Scalia, will forever be a symbol of American justice.  To fill his seat, we have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill, and deep devotion to the law.  He was confirmed unanimously to the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination.

Tonight, as I outline the next steps we must take as a country, we must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited.

Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.

Over 43 million people are now living in poverty, and over 43 million Americans are on food stamps.

More than 1 in 5 people in their prime working years are not working.

We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years.

In the last 8 years, the past Administration has put on more new debt than nearly all other Presidents combined.

We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved, and we’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Our trade deficit in goods with the world last year was nearly $800 billion dollars.

And overseas, we have inherited a series of tragic foreign policy disasters.

Solving these, and so many other pressing problems, will require us to work past the differences of party.  It will require us to tap into the American spirit that has overcome every challenge throughout our long and storied history.

But to accomplish our goals at home and abroad, we must restart the engine of the American economy — making it easier for companies to do business in the United States, and much harder for companies to leave.

Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world.

My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone.  At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.

We must create a level playing field for American companies and workers.

Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes — but when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them almost nothing.

I just met with officials and workers from a great American company, Harley-Davidson.  In fact, they proudly displayed five of their magnificent motorcycles, made in the USA, on the front lawn of the White House.

At our meeting, I asked them, how are you doing, how is business?  They said that it’s good.  I asked them further how they are doing with other countries, mainly international sales.  They told me — without even complaining because they have been mistreated for so long that they have become used to it — that it is very hard to do business with other countries because they tax our goods at such a high rate.  They said that in one case another country taxed their motorcycles at 100 percent.

They weren’t even asking for change.  But I am.

I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be FAIR TRADE.

The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that the “abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government [will] produce want and ruin among our people.”

Lincoln was right — and it is time we heeded his words. I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers, be taken advantage of anymore.

I am going to bring back millions of jobs.  Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration.  The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers.

Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others –- have a merit-based immigration system.  It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.  Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon.  According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.

Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits:  it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families –- including immigrant families –- enter the middle class.

I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws.

If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.

Another Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program –- the building of the interstate highway system.  The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding.

America has spent approximately six trillion dollars in the Middle East, all this while our infrastructure at home is crumbling.  With this six trillion dollars we could have rebuilt our country –- twice.  And maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to negotiate.

To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital –- creating millions of new jobs.

This effort will be guided by two core principles:  Buy American, and Hire American.

Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better Healthcare.

Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America.  The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we will do.

Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits.  As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone.  Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his State — it is unsustainable and collapsing.

One third of counties have only one insurer on the exchanges –- leaving many Americans with no choice at all.

Remember when you were told that you could keep your doctor, and keep your plan?

We now know that all of those promises have been broken.

Obamacare is collapsing –- and we must act decisively to protect all Americans.  Action is not a choice –- it is a necessity.

So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.

Here are the principles that should guide the Congress as we move to create a better healthcare system for all Americans:

First, we should ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage, and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges.

Secondly, we should help Americans purchase their own coverage, through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts –- but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the Government.

Thirdly, we should give our great State Governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out.

Fourthly, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance – and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately.

Finally, the time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across State lines –- creating a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring cost way down and provide far better care.

Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed.  Every problem can be solved.  And every hurting family can find healing, and hope.

Our citizens deserve this, and so much more –- so why not join forces to finally get it done?  On this and so many other things, Democrats and Republicans should get together and unite for the good of our country, and for the good of the American people.

My administration wants to work with members in both parties to make childcare accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents have paid family leave, to invest in women’s health, and to promote clean air and clear water, and to rebuild our military and our infrastructure.

True love for our people requires us to find common ground, to advance the common good, and to cooperate on behalf of every American child who deserves a brighter future.

An incredible young woman is with us this evening who should serve as an inspiration to us all.

Today is Rare Disease day, and joining us in the gallery is a Rare Disease Survivor, Megan Crowley.  Megan was diagnosed with Pompe Disease, a rare and serious illness, when she was 15 months old.  She was not expected to live past 5.

On receiving this news, Megan’s dad, John, fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child.  He founded a company to look for a cure, and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life.  Today she is 20 years old — and a sophomore at Notre Dame.

Megan’s story is about the unbounded power of a father’s love for a daughter.

But our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration keeps too many advances, like the one that saved Megan’s life, from reaching those in need.

If we slash the restraints, not just at the FDA but across our Government, then we will be blessed with far more miracles like Megan.

In fact, our children will grow up in a Nation of miracles.

But to achieve this future, we must enrich the mind –- and the souls –- of every American child.

Education is the civil rights issue of our time.

I am calling upon Members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children.  These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.

Joining us tonight in the gallery is a remarkable woman, Denisha Merriweather.  As a young girl, Denisha struggled in school and failed third grade twice.  But then she was able to enroll in a private center for learning, with the help of a tax credit scholarship program.  Today, she is the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college.  Later this year she will get her masters degree in social work.

We want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty just like Denisha.

But to break the cycle of poverty, we must also break the cycle of violence.

The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century.

In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone –- and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher.

This is not acceptable in our society.

Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job.

But to create this future, we must work with –- not against -– the men and women of law enforcement.

We must build bridges of cooperation and trust –- not drive the wedge of disunity and division.

Police and sheriffs are members of our community.  They are friends and neighbors, they are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – and they leave behind loved ones every day who worry whether or not they’ll come home safe and sound.

We must support the incredible men and women of law enforcement.

And we must support the victims of crime.

I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American Victims.  The office is called VOICE –- Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement.  We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.

Joining us in the audience tonight are four very brave Americans whose government failed them.

Their names are Jamiel Shaw, Susan Oliver, Jenna Oliver, and Jessica Davis.

Jamiel’s 17-year-old son was viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member, who had just been released from prison.  Jamiel Shaw Jr. was an incredible young man, with unlimited potential who was getting ready to go to college where he would have excelled as a great quarterback.  But he never got the chance.  His father, who is in the audiencetonight, has become a good friend of mine.

Also with us are Susan Oliver and Jessica Davis.  Their husbands –- Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver and Detective Michael Davis –- were slain in the line of duty in California.  They were pillars of their community.  These brave men were viciously gunned down by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record and two prior deportations.

Sitting with Susan is her daughter, Jenna.  Jenna:  I want you to know that your father was a hero, and that tonight you have the love of an entire country supporting you and praying for you.

To Jamiel, Jenna, Susan and Jessica:  I want you to know –- we will never stop fighting for justice.  Your loved ones will never be forgotten, we will always honor their memory.

Finally, to keep America Safe we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war and –- if they must –- to fight and to win.

I am sending the Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the Defense sequester, and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.

My budget will also increase funding for our veterans.

Our veterans have delivered for this Nation –- and now we must deliver for them.

The challenges we face as a Nation are great.  But our people are even greater.

And none are greater or braver than those who fight for America in uniform.

We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens.  Ryan died as he lived:  a warrior, and a hero –- battling against terrorism and securing our Nation.

I just spoke to General Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.”  Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity.  For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom –- we will never forget him.

To those allies who wonder what kind of friend America will be, look no further than the heroes who wear our uniform.

Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world.  It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies across the globe.

We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism.

But our partners must meet their financial obligations.

And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that.

We expect our partners, whether in NATO, in the Middle East, or the Pacific –- to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost.

We will respect historic institutions, but we will also respect the sovereign rights of nations.

Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people –- and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path.  My job is not to represent the world.  My job is to represent the United States of America. But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict — not more.

We must learn from the mistakes of the past –- we have seen the war and destruction that have raged across our world.

The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long process of rebuilding.

America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align.  We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict.

We want peace, wherever peace can be found.  America is friends today with former enemies.  Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these World Wars.  This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.

Hopefully, the 250th year for America will see a world that is more peaceful, more just and more free.

On our 100th anniversary, in 1876, citizens from across our Nation came to Philadelphia to celebrate America’s centennial.  At that celebration, the country’s builders and artists and inventors showed off their creations.

Alexander Graham Bell displayed his telephone for the first time.

Remington unveiled the first typewriter.  An early attempt was made at electric light.

Thomas Edison showed an automatic telegraph and an electric pen.

Imagine the wonders our country could know in America’s 250th year.

Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people.

Cures to illnesses that have always plagued us are not too much to hope.

American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.

Millions lifted from welfare to work is not too much to expect.

And streets where mothers are safe from fear — schools where children learn in peace — and jobs where Americans prosper and grow — are not too much to ask.

When we have all of this, we will have made America greater than ever before. For all Americans.

This is our vision. This is our mission.

But we can only get there together.

We are one people, with one destiny.

We all bleed the same blood.

We all salute the same flag.

And we are all made by the same God.

And when we fulfill this vision; when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began.

The time for small thinking is over.  The time for trivial fights is behind us.

We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.

The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls.

And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action.

From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears –-

inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past –-

and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.

I am asking all citizens to embrace this Renewal of the American Spirit.  I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country.  And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment and —

Believe in yourselves.

Believe in your future.

And believe, once more, in America.

Thank you, God bless you, and God Bless these United States.

CIA honors Saudi for fighting terror, despite nation’s terror ties

‘If this award was joke, it was a bad one’

February 18, 2017

by Paul Bremmer

wnd

A member of the Saudi royal family has received an award from the CIA for his contributions to fighting terrorism.

In a move that was not widely reported in the U.S., CIA Director Mike Pompeo last weekend gave Crown Prince Muhammed bin Nayef of Saudi Arabia the George Tenet medal in recognition of the prince’s “excellent intelligence performance in the domain of counterterrorism and his unbound contribution to realize world security and peace.”

While the U.K.’s Independent reports bin Nayef has worked to crack down on al-Qaida’s operations in Saudi Arabia, the Arab kingdom has a checkered history of intermittent support for and opposition to terrorism.

Philip Haney, a retired Department of Homeland Security officer who specialized in Islamic theology and the strategy and tactics of the global Islamic movement, said the CIA had to overlook a remarkable amount of “derogatory information” to honor a Saudi leader for fighting terrorism.

“Since 9/11, the terms of our relationship with Saudi Arabia have been defined by the Saudis, not by the U.S.,” Haney told WND. “To gain Saudi support in the ‘War on Terror,’ one of the first post-9/11 compromises America made with the Saudis was to redact the now-infamous ’28 pages’ from the 9/11 Commission Report, thus shielding and/or exonerating them from any involvement or responsibility.

“A second compromise we made with our Wahhabi partners in peace was to ignore their decades-long role in the funding and support of thousands of pro-jihad madrassas throughout the Eastern Hemisphere.

“Nor should we overlook Saudi Arabia’s on-again, off-again support of Hamas, a close Muslim Brotherhood affiliate and globally designated Foreign Terrorist Organization since 1997. Despite Saudi Arabia’s earlier 2014 designation of the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, on July 17, 2015, King Salman of Saudi Arabia met with top Hamas leaders, including Qatar resident and political leader Khaled Meshal, thus publicly revealing his willingness to work with known Islamist terrorist organizations.”

One year ago, as a presidential candidate, Donald Trump referenced the 28 pages that were redacted from the 9/11 commission report and suggested on multiple occasions the Saudis may have been behind the 9/11 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi citizens. And yet, once he became president, Trump did not include Saudi Arabia in his now-infamous travel ban.

What’s more, when Pompeo gave his opening remarks after being confirmed as Trump’s CIA director, he did not mention Saudi Arabia, or any Sunni Muslim country, among the threats the U.S. faces.

He cited Russia and China as “sophisticated adversaries” in the cyber realm, and he listed Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East, ISIS’s hold over major urban areas and the conflict in Syria as major global threats.

Trump and Pompeo appear to be continuing the long tradition of treating Saudi Arabia as an ally despite its past associations with terrorism.

“The one-sided quid pro quo alliance between America and Saudi Arabia is remarkably similar to the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ between Turkey and Europe, and the West, to overlook the Armenian genocide for the sake of peace and political and economic stability,” Haney said.

Haney, co-author of the book “See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad,” noted the Saudis exercise tremendous influence over the American government.

Last April, for example, Saudi Arabia threatened to sell up to $750 billion in U.S. assets if the U.S. Congress passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which would have made it possible to prosecute Saudi officials in American courts for their roles in 9/11 or other terrorism cases.

President Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, voiced the administration’s opposition to the bill at the time, and Obama eventually vetoed it, although Congress overrode his veto.

But during the debate over the bill in April 2016, Obama traveled to Saudi Arabia seeking to ease tensions created by JASTA. The Washington Post reported at the time that the Obama administration had “sold the Saudis more than $95 billion in military hardware over the past several years, and Saudi intelligence has been essential to the counterterrorism fight against al-Qaida and the Islamic State.”

Haney said he can think of several possible reasons why Pompeo would give a Saudi prince an anti-terrorism medal.

It may have been intended to signal to Iran that the U.S. is openly siding with the Sunni Islamic world. Or maybe it was an acknowledgement of the Saudi-led coalition in the ongoing war in Yemen, which began in March 2015 with U.S.-supported air strikes. Or maybe it was a gesture of thanks for Saudi Arabia’s ground-support role in Syria after Obama authorized the CIA to begin secretly arming Syrian rebels in 2013.

Here, however, things get complicated, because a year later Saudi Arabia designated two of the opposition groups the CIA was initially supporting in Syria as terrorist organizations.

“On March 7, 2014, Saudi Arabia formally designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, ‘in a move that could increase pressure on Qatar whose backing for the group has sparked a row with fellow Gulf monarchies,’” said Haney, quoting Reuters. “However, as reported in Reuters, ‘the U.S.-allied kingdom has also designated as terrorist the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, whose fighters are battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.’”

Haney believes the U.S. needs to reconsider its relationship with Saudi Arabia.

“We should always put our own sovereignty first. We should emphasize energy independence, which would allow us to evaluate our relationship with countries like Saudi Arabia with a much clearer perspective.”

William Murray, chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, said he was “flat-out shocked” when Pompeo flew to the Middle East during his first month on the job and handed the George Tenet Medal for counter-terrorism work to the man next in line as “dictator” of Saudi Arabia.

“If this award was joke, it was a bad one,” Murray said. “All the major terror organizations, including al-Qaida, al-Nusra, the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Taliban, have at one time or another been supported in some way from Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the nineteen 9/11 Islamic terrorists were from Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden was from Saudi Arabia and his family still runs major businesses there.

“Virtually all the financing for Sunni Muslim terrorist groups comes from Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni Muslim gulf states. The Saudi intelligence services financed and armed the Sunni gangs that started the Syrian Civil War in 2011.”

Murray, author of “Utopian Road to Hell: Enslaving America and the World with Central Planning,” pointed out virtually all Islamic terror is Sunni, with Hezbollah being the only Shia terror group. But Murray said Hezbollah is not in the same league as other Muslim terror groups because Hezbollah attacks military, not civilian, targets and operates hospitals in Lebanon.

“In fact, there has never been, to my knowledge, a Shia Muslim terror attack on civilians in Europe or the United States,” Murray asserted. “On the other hand, every terror attack in America has been Sunni Muslim and has had some ties to Saudi Arabia. By some ties, I mean either direct, or the terrorists attended Sunni Muslim mosques associated in some way with Saudi Arabia.”

“I don’t think President Trump ordered Pompeo to go to Saudi Arabia,” Murray said. “I do not believe that President Trump was aware that Pompeo was going to give Prince Abdulaziz this prestigious CIA medal. Rather, I believe that CIA Director Pompeo has been in the pocket of the Saudi royal family since his time on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in the House. It was his duty to oversee the CIA and now he runs it.

“Just as was true under the Bush and Obama administrations, the Saudis can do no wrong in the eyes of the CIA. Every briefing that President Trump receives will pump up the Saudi royals. I pray that the president will watch his Twitter account and read about the human rights abuses of the Saudi royals and their devastating war on the civilians in Yemen. Frankly, I don’t know how Director Pompeo can sleep at night.”

Wahhabism, ISIS, and the Saudi Connection

January 31, 2016

by Lincoln Clapper

Geopoitical Monitor

By U.S. Department of State from United States – Secretary Kerry Sits With Saudi King Salman Before Bilateral Meeting in Riyadh, Public Domain, $3

The rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has become somewhat of a revelation to the international community over the last several months. Commencing with the desertion from Al-Qaeda, to the self-proclamation of Caliph by its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, and finally the surge in Iraq and Syria, each move has occurred without a countervailing effort. In order to conceptualize the mentality of ISIS and its motivation, look no further than inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to examine how its puritanical Wahhabi doctrine has enabled the ideology of ISIS and terrorist groups alike, and will continue to do so for potential Islamic extremist groups in the future.

It’s all too obvious that the theology of ISIS is reciprocal to the Wahhabi religious doctrine that has governed Saudi Arabia from its inception to this very day.

A Brief History of the Deal at the Heart of Saudi Society

Wahhabism refers to the Islamic doctrine founded by Muhammad Ibn’ Abdul-Wahhab. Born in 1703, Abdul-Wahab grew up in Nejd (present-day Saudi Arabia) and was a religious zealot who believed the two most important aspects of religion were, “the Quran and the sword.” As a young teen, he was introduced to the works of Ibn Taymiyyah, an atavistic theologian whose works still resonate in present-day Sunni militant theology. Ibn Taymiyyah’s belief that, “misguided Muslims who do not abide by his interpretation of Shari’ah law should be fought as if they were infidels,” is a foundational principle of Al-Qaeda and ISIS alike. Abdul-Wahhab continued his devotion to the teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah throughout his early adult life and began to travel across Nejd projecting his views on Shi’ite communities. Due to his excessive, puritanical beliefs he was forcibly expelled from the city of Basrah by Shi’ite clerics after they revolted against his teachings and attacked him. His rejection eventually led him back to the place of his birth, Al-‘Uyaynah, where his radicalism started to gain excessive adulation. On one prominent occasion, he arranged for the public execution of a woman who confessed to her adultery, had her tied down, then stoned her to death. As this story disseminated throughout the region a local tribal ruler issued a decree that Abdul-Wahhab had to either be stopped or killed. With his life in jeopardy, Abdul-Wahhab traveled to a small market town called Dir’iyyah, which at the time was under the control of one Muhammad Bin Sa’ud. Little did they realize that the events that followed would set a precedent for the future of the region.

Bin Sa’ud, under the religious conviction that this man was “driven to him by Allah,” struck a deal with Abdul-Wahab in 1744 that remains solidified to this day between the House of Saud and the House of Ash-Shaykh (the descendants of Abdul-Wahab).  Abdul-Wahhab and Bin Sa’ud’s army went about waging wars against Muslim and non-Muslim tribes alike across Arabia, spreading Wahhabism as the predominant religion. This bond between Abdul-Wahab and Bin Sa’ud legitimized the use of religion as the instrument for consolidating power and establishing Bin Sa’ud as the ruling family. The alliance forced obedience from the conquered tribes to the House of Saud and their policies, of which Abdul-Wahab strongly encouraged. At that point, Wahhabism became compliantly submissive to the new royal family and continues to be so to this day, evidenced by the 2003 statement from the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, Grand Mufti Abdul-Aziz Bin Abdullah Al Ash Shaykh that, “ the rulers should always be obeyed, even if unjust.”

Every Saudi ruler since Bin Sa’ud has followed his predecessor’s domestic policy by ensuring that the religious establishment remains in significant control of public affairs. Present-day Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia is very much like that of the first Saudi state. The religious police, Mutawwa’ah, still roam the streets with sticks enforcing Wahhabism’s strict standards regarding the separating of sexes, women’s dress code, use of alcohol or drugs, and religious observances. Shi’ites are highly discriminated against, any type of political dissent is immediately suppressed on the basis of religious violations, and public beheadings are still routinely used as a type of capital punishment for “sorcery, drug trafficking, and rape.”

The relationship between the ulama (political elite) and muftis (religious authorities) has been honored and respected as the royal family has allowed the appointment of a member of the House of Shaykh to be the Grand Mufti since 1744. The only exception to this was ‘Abdul-‘Aziz Bin ‘Abdullah Bin Baz, better known as Bin Baz.

In 1993, Bin Baz became the first non-member of the House of Shaykh to hold the position, and has since played an instrumental role in the political legitimization for the House of Saud with his obscurantist views of Islam that resembled the early teachings of Abdul-Wahab. It is argued that he is responsible for the religious propagation and extremely radical interpretation of Islam through this viewpoint of Wahhabism. His rulings and fatwas range from: disputing the landing on the moon — the banning of pictures, statues and relics — the banning of prayer behind a man wearing a suit and tie — rejection of the rotation of the earth — the banning of singing and music — banning women from driving — and declaring Muslims who do not believe the stories of the Prophet as infidels. Bin Baz enforced strict dress codes for women, as well as men, forbade people who practiced martial arts from bowing to each other, and continued anti-Shi’ite, anti-Christian, and anti-Semitic propaganda through public statements.

His hostility towards other religions was apparent through his sermons and fatwas: “It is incumbent upon Muslims to take as enemies the infidel Jews and Christians and other polytheists, and to avoid their amiability,” and “(Shi’ites) are the most polytheist, and none of the people of passion are more lying than them, and more remote from monotheism, and their danger on Islam is very great indeed.” This was the same rhetoric and propaganda used during the inception of Al-Qaeda by Bin Laden, and Bin Baz was no different regarding militant legitimization for religious superiority.

Shortly after 9/11 this history became quite relevant to US intelligence analysts. Saudi Arabian credibility was immensely damaged internationally, and officials found themselves backtracking on the theology of their state religion. With eleven of the hijackers having been Saudi citizens, the Saudi regime was put on the defensive. This resulted in a political effort to marginalize the extremism of Al-Qaeda by relieving what they viewed as, “extremist,” Imams from their duties, reforming some of the educational indoctrination, and advocating for the condemnation of terrorist activity worldwide. This was done by the House of Saud to appease their Western allies and keep the lucrative oil relationship intact, but by no means did any radical transformation of the House of Shaykh take place in this process.

Saudi Arabia Back in the Spotlight

The Saudi religion was slowly forgotten by the international community as a correlative issue with Al-Qaeda due to the political focus toward ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it has since subtly entered back into the international spotlight since the Syrian civil war outbreak in 2011. With the uprising against Bashar Al-Assad, many Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia in particular, have used the conflict as a proxy war for Sunni vs Shia supremacy by funneling millions of dollars to Wahhabi militant factions to assist in the overthrow. In 2012, Saudi Arabia’s own intelligence chief Bandar Bin Sultan was formally sent to Syria to round up and organize Sunni militants for the opposition movement. Initially, financial support and arms were transferred to Al-Nusra Front, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, and Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), before it formally partitioned itself as ISIS.

The plan for the Saudi-backed AQI to enter Syria became botched when Hezbollah and Iran began funneling cash, arms, and personnel into Syria to combat the overthrow, creating a rift between AQI, Al-Qaeda leadership, and Saudi leadership on a plan of action. The leader of AQI, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, after months of ideological conflict with Al-Qaeda leadership decided to defect, thus creating the present-day Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. What is important in this transformation is the amount of Wahhabi influence on the ideology of Al-Baghdadi and subsequently ISIS. The biographies of Al-Baghdadi and others in ISIS leadership positions show how they’ve absorbed the Wahhabi doctrine and mastered its details. Documents reveal the groups explicitly stated goals of, “establishing the religion and dissemination monotheism, which is the purpose and calling of Islam,” — this is the same rhetoric in Abdul-Wahab’s interpretations of Islam. Their main goal is nothing more than to create a Wahhabi state that is inherently identical to the theology of Abdul-Wahhab, and Al-Baghdadi has resorted to the teachings of Abdul-Wahhab for his arguments to support the means of creating that state.

His stated principles are practically replicas of Wahhabi sources such as “the need to demolish and remove all manifestation of polytheism and prohibits its ways,” and “the need to resort to the law of God through seeking adjudication in the Islamic courts of the Islamic State.” Al-Baghdadi’s process of establishing an Islamic State is conducted in the same manner that Abdul-Wahhab and Ibn Saud used in the 18th century by conquering territory and ruthlessly forcing the conquered to conform or die. ISIS’s brutal tactics of beheading and flogging, the banning of smoking and music, and dress codes enforced on women, along with the continual circulation of Wahhabi books and documents among the schools it controls is extremely reflective of the Wahhabi ideology — these same books and documents being circulated can currently be found in Saudi Arabia.

This all has created a deleterious consequence for the House of Saud. As ISIS has garnered further international publicity and continues to become a security concern for the West and Middle East, it has also created a situation where Saudi Arabia’s image is becoming severely damaged. As more and more investigations delve into the ideology of ISIS and the stark similarities and principles of ISIS and Saudi Arabia are discovered, one may ask why the royal family in Saudi Arabia does not distance itself from the religious establishment as a whole? Herein lies the paradox behind the Saudi state: without the House of Shaykh using the Wahhabi ideology to legitimatize the religious duty of the House of Saud to rule, the royal family will no longer have a substantial claim for political power over the kingdom. Therefore, the House of Saud is constantly oscillating between condemning ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and any other Sunni militant groups that live by the creed of Wahhabism (that is essentially one-in-the-same with the religious authority in Saudi Arabia), appealing to the global community that Saudi Arabia is not a state that supports ISIS’s ideology, and not upsetting the religious Ash-Shaykh establishment in Saudi Arabia. The damage-control mode taken by Saudi Arabia in recent months is evident by their foreign policy actions, with Saudi Arabia now part of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS.

Yet public opinion of ISIS in the kingdom remains very empathetic. In June 2014, a poll taken in Saudi Arabia showed that 92% believed, “ISIS conforms to the values of Islam and Islamic Law,” and families of sons who have died fighting with ISIS have expressed “joy,” regarding the martyrdom of their child. Saudi intelligence has taken notice of this level of public sympathy (due in part to pressure from the U.S.) especially of the blatant Twitter campaigns showing support for the Islamic State and pledging allegiance to Al-Baghdadi. However, as the House of Saud wages its condemnation against ISIS, it is clear that the Wahhabi ideology is firmly cemented in the religious culture of Saudi Arabia casting significant doubt on a change in public opinion.

The danger that ISIS poses for the international community is that it preaches and institutes the same religious teachings of Abdul-Wahhab, carrying aspirations of creating an Islamic state that has been tried for nearly two centuries since the creation of the first Saudi state. Only this time, the group has resources that were never accessible to its predecessors. Firstly, ISIS is effectively using social media campaigns to recruit new members from all over the globe. Secondly, the size of the group (estimates are around 30,000) is large enough to conclude that a small-scale counterinsurgency campaign would not be enough to suppress its progress across the region due to their massive territorial control over northern Syria and parts of Iraq. Thirdly, ISIS controls oil fields that are estimated to be making them $3 million per day on the black market, and the toppling of the Iraqi bank in Mosul gave them an inheritance of nearly $400 million in cash. The continued kidnapping of foreigners and reporters will serve as possible additional funding from European and Asian governments due to their willingness to negotiate with terrorist organizations. ISIS’s financial resources, recruiting tactics, and military strength are all imperative issues facing the international community moving forward.

It is blatant that the state religion in Saudi Arabia has both directly and indirectly led to the formation of ISIS. The Wahhabi ideology taught, enforced, and supported in Saudi Arabia is essentially a mirror image of the religious establishment ISIS is implementing in its attempt to form an Islamic state, with both the House of Shaykh and Al-Baghdadi adhering to the same teachings and theology of Wahhabism. While the conduct of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia is not at the same level of brutality that ISIS displays by leaving beheaded bodies mounted in the streets, enslaving women and girls of different religions, or massacring towns and villages at point-blank range, the fundamental ideas behind the importance of living by the Koran and ruling by the sword still pertain to both sides — this is evidenced by public opinion polls and support for the groups across internet platforms.

As long as the Wahhabi ideology prevails as the religious authority in Saudi Arabia, the potential will always remain for additional Sunni groups to emerge with the same pious philosophies and inclinations as ISIS. The House of Shaykh and House of Saud have deep, intertwined family ties with each other, as members of both houses have married one another over the last two centuries. The House of Saud will most likely never allow the House of Shaykh to lose its religious authority in the Kingdom because of the need for the House of Shaykh to legitimize the power the royal family possesses. If the Saudi Arabian establishment is continually supported and backed by the West, their existence will be incompatible with countering Islamic radicalism.  Moving forward, expect to see any rise of religious fanaticism inside the Kingdom suppressed while extremist groups outside of the Kingdom’s grasp, particularly in neighboring countries, continue to emulate the Wahhabi doctrine that Saudi Arabia has lived under since its founding.

The morally reprehensible rehabilitation of George W. Bush

The big chimp is back. No, I’m not talking about the imminent release of the new King Kong film, but the return of George W. Bush.

March 1, 2017

by Neil Clark

RT

Incredibly, or perhaps not so incredibly, given the current insanity, the man who launched a blatantly illegal war based on an outrageous lie – and which destabilized not just the Middle East but the entire world, is now being lauded in Western liberal circles for his tacit criticism of Donald Trump’s attacks on the press and for calling for ‘answers‘ on the new President’s alleged ties with Russia.

What next? If the octogenarian psychopath Charles Manson comes out and takes the ‘right’ position on Trump, the media, and Russia, will newspapers be quoting him with approval too? You can just imagine the conversations: ‘OK, his ‘Family’ might have killed a few people, but it was a long time ago, and you’ve got to admit Charles is absolutely right about Putin and Trump and the threats to our wonderful free media. Yah?’.

In 1971 Manson was found guilty of conspiring to kill seven people, including the lovely actress Sharon Tate. Bush’s Iraq war was a conspiracy which has claimed the lives of up to one million people and led directly to the rise of ISIS. If there were such a thing as international justice, then Bush, like the monstrous Manson, would now be behind bars for what he did. Instead, the man who set fire to the Middle East – and who later joked about the absence of WMDs – is promoting his first art book and has become the Russophobes’ darling of the month. Just how sick is that?

The Washington Post which back in December falsely claimed Russia had hacked into a Vermont power utility – ran a piece entitled: ‘Why you should listen when George Bush defends the media.’

Dubya was hailed for saying that the America media was “indispensable to democracy” and that “independent media” was needed to hold “people” like him to account. But that’s the problem. The US media, with one or two honorable exceptions, is not “independent” and it didn’t – and doesn’t – hold establishment-approved warmongers like George W. Bush to account.

Far from it, the media in the US helped Bush ‘sell’ the fake news of Iraqi WMDs in 2002/3. Newspapers in the lead-up to war were full of opeds from ‘experts’ and columnists telling their readers why America simply had to attack Iraq on the grounds of ‘national security’ and ridiculing those who opposed the aggression. In 2014, the Nation reported that the Washington Post ran no fewer than 140 stories on its front page promoting the war.

News channels relentlessly beat the drums for war too. It’s worth noting that it was at the 2004 Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner that Bush joked about WMDs not turning up. No one booed – instead, there were hearty laughs from the ‘inside the tent’ audience.

No wonder Bush is now praising the Fourth Estate. If it had been genuinely ‘independent’ and properly challenged the 43rd President on his WMD claims, then the Iraq war might have been averted.

It’s not just those who cheer-led for the illegal invasion who are now praising Bush. Even more shocking has been the support of former critics.

Back in 2003, the Guardian newspaper, which I’ve contributed to on a regular or semi-regular basis down the years, published a number of articles opposing the Iraq war, including one by me on the unwelcome return of Arabophobia.

On the tenth anniversary of the huge anti-war march in London, the paper declared: “Ten years on, the judgment of those who took to the streets against the rush to war, only looks wiser.”

Even in 2016, a Guardian editorial described Iraq as “a country that we helped to ruin.”

But in a pro-Bush editorial on Monday entitled “George W. Bush: A welcome return,” there was no mention of the ‘I’ word. Instead, Dubya was lauded as ‘a paragon of virtue.’

“His defense today of a free press (“indispensable”), his call for a “lawful, welcoming” immigration policy and his preference for “answers” in the scandal engulfing Donald Trump’s team over Moscow’s meddling in the presidential election may mark a turning point for Republicans. We certainly hope so,” the editorial asserted.

My first thoughts were that the piece was a parody. Then I thought I had done a ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and somehow slept through the whole of March only to be awakened on April Fools’ Day. But no, ‘George W. Bush: A welcome return’ was real, and the published date was 27th February.

How did we get here? Going back to the ape world, my biography of King Kong co-creator Edgar Wallace was called Stranger than Fiction. The phrase certainly applies to the rehabilitation of the chimp otherwise known as George W. Bush. Because the Iraq war was not just some minor transgression that can quietly be forgotten now that Trump‘s around, but a crime on an epic scale.

The Nuremberg judgment held that to initiate a war of aggression, as the Nazis had done, and Bush (and Blair) did in 2003, was ‘not only an international crime, it is THE SUPREME INTERNATIONAL CRIME differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole’.

Let’s just imagine for a moment if Hitler hadn’t topped himself in his bunker in 1945, and instead- cunningly disguised as a young German maiden he had done a runner. Then, fourteen years later, in 1959, the mustachioed one had re-emerged to issue (at the same time that his new art book was being published) a press release criticizing the new German Chancellor’s attitudes toward the media and demanding ‘answers’ on his successor’s alleged ties to Russia. Would liberals be falling over themselves to cite him and write gushing opeds welcoming his return? I think not. But they’re doing the same with Bush today.

As to demanding ‘answers’ on Trump and Russia- it’s Bush who should be answering OUR questions. Why did he falsely claim Iraq had WMDs? Why did he attack a country which had nothing to do with the 9/11 terror attacks? Why did he send US troops to fight and die in a war which most certainly had nothing to do with protecting national security?

The neocons have, up to now, got off scot-free for the crimes they committed and the lies they told us fourteen years ago.

Not only that, the victory of Donald Trump and the Deep State/Establishment media fake news about ‘Russian interference’ in the US election has seen previously sensible liberals lose their marbles- and embrace- or at least take the same side- as those they quite rightly regarded as being beyond the pale, not so long ago.

In 2004, the baseball-capped film-maker Michael Moore was lambasting Bush and the war-hawks in his film Fahrenheit 9-11. Now the self-same Michael Moore is impersonating the hard-right Senator Joe McCarthy to lambast Trump.

On 17th February, he tweeted: “Vacate you, Russian traitor.”

How embarrassing to see people like Moore act like total idiots and swallow hook, line, and sinker the Cold War 2.0 propaganda of the CIA. How sad to see liberals forget about the horrors of Iraq and the enormous damage the invasion caused to the lives of millions of people around the world.

The rehabilitation of George Bush is utterly obscene and must be countered. The chimp who once inhabited the White House has done far more harm than King Kong ever did, and his return to our screens – unless it’s a trial for war crimes – is far less welcome.

Bitcoin’s “creator” races to patent technology with gambling tycoon

A computer scientist and an online gambling fugitive have joined forces in a land grab for intellectual property related to bitcoin and blockchain.

March 2, 2017

by Byron Kaye and Jeremy Wagstaff

Reuters

SYDNEY/SINGAPORE – The man who last year made global headlines by claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the creator of bitcoin, is working with a fugitive online gambling entrepreneur to file scores of patents relating to the digital currency and its underlying technology, blockchain.

Craig Wright, the Australian computer scientist who made the Satoshi claim, has the backing of Calvin Ayre, a wealthy Canadian entrepreneur, according to people close to Wright and documents reviewed by Reuters. Ayre has been indicted in the United States on charges of running online gambling operations that are illegal in many U.S. states – an accusation he rejects.

Wright’s expertise combined with Ayre’s support make a potentially formidable force in shaping the future of bitcoin and blockchain, the ledger technology that underlies digital currencies. Wright and his associates have lodged more than 70 patent applications in Britain and have plans to file many more, according to documents and emails reviewed by Reuters and sources with knowledge of Wright’s business. The patents range from the storage of medical documents to WiFi security, and reflect Wright’s deep knowledge of how bitcoin and blockchain work.

Their total compares with 63 blockchain-related patents filed globally last year and 27 so far this year by multinationals from credit card companies to chipmakers, according to Thomson Innovation.

Neither Wright nor Ayre would comment for this story on their business relationship, details of which are revealed here for the first time, or their goals. But their interest in bitcoin and blockchain highlights two key trends.

First, an increasing number of entrepreneurs believe blockchain, which can circumvent the need for big financial intermediaries, will challenge traditional payment systems. Various banks are investing large sums to explore how blockchain could revolutionise payment systems and cut costs. Bitcoin involves sending payments directly, securely and potentially anonymously between two people’s digital wallets, whereas all mainstream transactions, including those using intermediaries like Paypal and credit card lenders, run through banks and usually require named accounts and verification.

Second, blockchain has the potential to defy authorities trying to enforce borders and national regulations – and it already does so in areas such as online gambling. In internet chatrooms some online gamblers say that using bitcoin enables them to disguise their identity and transactions.

The confidentiality conveyed by the currency is one source of its popularity. Bitcoin hit a record high this week, partly because of speculation that the first bitcoin exchange-traded fund is set to receive U.S. regulatory approval. After a sharp rise this year, the cryptocurrency reached more than $1,200 per bitcoin.

Ayre said last year that he saw a “growing convergence” of bitcoin and online gambling, according to the website CalvinAyre.com. Documents reviewed by Reuters show Wright’s links to online gambling go back decades and that bitcoin grew out of code originally developed with gambling in mind. Early bitcoin code, seen by Reuters and analysed by a computer coding consultant with no ties to Wright or any blockchain-related project, contains unimplemented functions related to poker.

Wright’s vision for bitcoin, though, goes much further than gambling, according to his research papers and interview transcripts. It remains unclear whether he is Satoshi Nakamoto or not, and even whether Satoshi is one person or a group of people. But some of the documents, including two folders of computer code for early versions of bitcoin, support Wright’s claims that he was closely involved in the development of the cryptocurrency before it became public in 2009.

Whatever Wright’s original role, he has suggested bitcoin could have widespread applications. In a paper from November 2015, also reviewed by Reuters, he wrote: “The bitcoin blockchain can be scaled up to replace all existing payment system networks to become the world’s single global economic infrastructure.”

The paper is unpublished, but it gives an insight into the global scope of his plans for the technology. While it’s far from clear the two will be successful in their patent applications, bitcoin and patent experts say Wright’s project represents the single largest filing of bitcoin-related intellectual property they’ve seen. “It’s certainly bullish,” said Justin Hill, a patents expert with law firm Olswang. “With the ambition comes the risk.”

ANTIGUA CONNECTION

Reuters has previously reported that Wright was filing patents through a company called EITC Holdings, which is based in Antigua.

Ayre lives in Antigua, and EITC Holdings is headed by associates of Ayre, according to one source close to Wright and one with direct knowledge of his business, as well as corporate documents reviewed by Reuters. Australian Stefan Matthews, who began working for Ayre in 2011, was a director of EITC Holdings until at least late 2016. It isn’t clear if he’s still associated with the company. Canadian Robert MacGregor, another long-term Ayre associate, was a director of EITC Holdings until mid-April 2016. The documents do not disclose the shareholders of the company.

Matthews and MacGregor appear with Wright in a June 2015 photograph seen by Reuters. Neither man responded to requests for comment. Sources familiar with the company said they had gone to some lengths to avoid their roles in EITC being discovered.

In September, Ayre posted on his Facebook page that Wright was his “crazy/smart friend.” Photos on Ayre’s Facebook page show him and Wright boating and swimming together in what Ayre identifies as Indian Arm, a fjord near Vancouver, the previous month. A spokesman for Ayre, Ed Pownall, said Ayre was living in Antigua while trying to clear his name and was not doing “any interviews at the moment, on legal advice.” Pownall added that Ayre “wanted you to know the information about him is incorrect.” He declined to specify what information he was referring to.

The range of patent applications lodged by Wright and colleagues is wide. Five, registered on Dec. 14, were made by EITC Holdings with the bland description “computer-implemented method and system,” public filings show. One, registered on Dec. 28, was described as “Determining a common secret for two blockchain nodes for the secure exchange of information” – apparently a way to use the blockchain to exchange encrypted data. Other applications by Wright and his associates relate to sports betting and a blockchain-based operating system for simple electronic devices.

Emails from Wright to Ayre’s associate Matthews, reviewed by Reuters, set out plans to file 150 patents. A person with direct knowledge of Wright’s businesses said he and associates ultimately aim to file closer to 400. None has been approved so far and it’s not clear whether the patents would be enforceable if granted, but Wright’s associates have been quoted as saying the patents could be sold “for upwards of a billion dollars.”

They face stiff competition from other players who are spending significant sums to explore blockchain’s potential. About 70 banks (and Thomson Reuters) have joined a company called R3, which is examining whether blockchain could cut costs in the way financial markets execute transactions. A spokesperson for R3 did not respond to requests for comment.

PwC, a consultancy, said more than $1.5 billion was invested in blockchain companies in 2016.

Whoever wins this intellectual property race, the rush to patent applications poses a threat to the original conception of bitcoin as a technology available to all.

“What was started by Satoshi as an open source project is going to be far from an open project by the time all the commercial projects weigh in,” said Nigel Swycher, CEO of London-based Aistemos, an IP analytics company. “People will try to use patents as one of many ways to protect their interests.”

THE CODER

Details about Wright’s links to the online gambling industry have emerged from previously unpublished information from the Australian Tax Office (ATO), which is investigating Wright over his claims for tax credits relating to bitcoin ventures. In 2014 Wright told the ATO that he had been producing software for online casinos and other gambling businesses when he was writing computer code that later helped to develop bitcoin.

A 2015 video, reviewed by Reuters, shows Wright being interviewed by three ATO officials. Wright is clad in a waistcoat and tie, fielding questions about his complex businesses and claims for tax breaks. At one point he is quizzed about his work for Bodog, the online gambling network set up by Ayre. Wright clams up and says he cannot disclose any details because of “contractual obligations.”

The ATO declined to comment on Wright, saying that its investigation into him was continuing.

A person close to Wright told Reuters that Wright began working for Bodog in 2010. Ayre had set up Bodog in the 1990s. It expanded into entertainment and proved so lucrative that Ayre featured in the 2006 “billionaires” issue of Forbes magazine.

Ayre chose to base his gambling business in Costa Rica. But much of its revenue came from players in the United States, where online gambling was and is illegal in many states. In February 2012, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland indicted Bodog, Ayre and four other people (Wright not among them) for allegedly conducting an illegal gambling business between 2005 and 2012. They were also indicted for moving funds from overseas to pay winnings to gamblers in the United States.

The Maryland attorney’s office said the case was “still pending.”

MOVE TO BRITAIN

Wright’s involvement with bitcoin was initially lucrative. He worked on computer code with an American cybersecurity consultant named David Kleiman, and by 2011 the pair had amassed 1.1 million bitcoins, worth more than $1 billion at today’s prices. Their activities were described by Wright in his interviews with the ATO, of which Reuters has reviewed the transcripts. Kleiman died in 2013.

Wright lost money when an online currency exchange ran into difficulties, according to documents reviewed by Reuters. Wright left Australia and relocated his business ventures to Britain.

In 2015, associates of Ayre began setting up companies which are now involved with Wright and bitcoin and blockchain. In September 2015, EITC Holdings, the Antiguan company that has filed scores of patents, was incorporated, originally under the name NCrypt Holdings.

That month, two companies – The Workshop Technologies and The Workshop Ventures – were incorporated in Britain with Ayre’s associate MacGregor as their sole director. According to the person with direct knowledge of the patent filings, Wright now works for The Workshop Technologies and MacGregor is his boss. The Workshop Technologies did not respond to requests for comment.

In May 2016, MacGregor presented Wright to the world as the creator of bitcoin through a coordinated media campaign with the BBC, the Economist and GQ magazine. However, when the cameras rolled, Wright failed to convince experts he really was Satoshi – and the bitcoin world dismissed him as a crank.

The publicity misfire led people with knowledge of Wright to speculate at the time that he would stop making bitcoin and blockchain patent applications. Wright did drop from public view. But he continued to produce papers, handwritten notes and voice recordings about patent applications, many of which have been reviewed by Reuters, for colleagues at The Workshop Technologies to convert into patents, according to the person with direct knowledge of Wright’s businesses.

In September last year, a relaxed-looking Wright resumed making visits to the company’s premises in central London, according to the source, who saw him there several times.

In Antigua, meanwhile, Ayre began construction in October of a $25 million call centre, saying it was part of his vision for bitcoin and online gaming. Speech notes provided by Ayre’s spokesman, Pownall, show that Ayre said at a launch event: “I see a growing convergence of Bitcoin, online gaming, virtual reality and gamification technologies, and progressive countries like Antigua are poised to take advantage of this convergence by developing a truly global services industry.”

According to an overview document and presentation slides reviewed by Reuters, in 2015 Wright planned to propose to the Antigua government that the island adopt bitcoin as its official currency. It is unclear which government department Wright approached, or indeed whether he made the proposal as planned. Requests for comment from three ministries in the Antiguan government produced no response.

“Bitcoin is not just a currency,” Wright wrote in his proposal for Antigua to adopt bitcoin. “It’s a new backbone and commercial foundation for the internet.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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