TBR News October 19, 2017

Oct 19 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., October 19, 2017:” “The Saudi attack on 9/11 is a subject that will be with us for years and will certainly grow in the telling. The WTC buildings collapsed solely for a number of rational, provable reasons but the following the Suudi attack, all manner of “expert” opinions erupted into the public like some kind of a tropical skin disease and a great army of conspiracy idiots left the stale fictions surrounding the Kennedy assassination and gratefully rush to embrace the new religion, a religion that had the exciting suggestions of “plasmoid clouds.” “Ex-Soviet controlled rockets,” “’Nano thermite explosives planted in both buildings,” and on and on.

Now we discover that brilliant, fearless reporters and daring bloggers have exposed and are exposing the Real Truth behind the 911 disaster. We are subjected to the Plasmoid Clouds, The Chinese/Bulgarian Guided Missiles, The ex-Soviet Scientists working with the CIA, and Mossad and the Illuminati.

Ah, and now we learn about the dread Nano Thermite! Yes, more “experts” (as always, unidentified) found traces of this explosive all over the streets after the WTC building collapsed! Of course not a word was ever mentioned about this shocking fact for eight years but why let that bother the seekers after truth?

What about the self-sacrificing US Army Special Forces who actually went inside the buildings, acting on orders from Laura Bush the Freemasons and their controllers, the Illuminati (who were working with the Mossad at the time),  and blew the Twin Towers, and themselves, up? And the acres of foreign rocket engine parts strewed all over New York’s streets, or huge lakes of molten steel found by unidentified “rescue workers” in the cellars of the WTC? God, will these disillusions never end?

Here we have reassurance that all is not lost after all…. Next week, a stunning report will emerge on how Nicolas Tesla’s Z-Ray, controlled by former KGB officers stationed on Planet X, actually brought down the two buildings,  as well as the Pentagon!”

Table of Contents

  • Turmoil and the mid-east boiling pot
  • How big pharma’s money – and its politicians – feed the US opioid crisis
  • Who let Hillary Clinton keep computer server for almost 2 yrs after leaving post? – analyst
  • Backroom battle imperils $230 million cryptocurrency venture
  • McCain As Metaphor
  • Catalonia crisis: Spain moves to suspend autonomy


Turmoil and the mid-east boiling pot

October 19, 2017

by Christian Jürs

1.The problem under consideration here is that Iran has, or will have, a nuclear weapon within a two year time span. If Iran gets a nuclear bomb, Israelis are afraid Iran will use it on them.

2.Israel would have logistical problems attacking Iran. Any attack would have to be an aerial attack, using fighter-bombers to pin-point known Iranian nuclear facilities.

The current opinion in some circles, mostly in the United States, is that at some point in the near future ,the growing  imposition of devastating economic sanctions on Iran will convince its radical religious leaders to terminate their pursuit of nuclear weapons. Also, there is the growing hope that the CIA’s funded Iran’s Green Movement will overthrow, a la the Ukrainian Orange Revolution and replace the Muslim fundamentalist regime, or at the very least find the means to modify and secularize the regime’s ideological extremism. It is also possible that disrupting operations  now being implemented by the intelligence agencies of Israel, the United States, Great Britain, and other Western powers—programs designed to subvert the Iranian nuclear effort through physical sabotage and, upon occasion, the carefully engineered disappearances of nuclear scientists—will have derailed Iran’s progress towards achieving the capacity to produce nuclear weapons.

It is now planned in Tel Aviv that senior Israeli officials, representing both their political and military establishments, will come to Washington for conferences both with their American counterparts and, eventually, with President Trmup. These conversations, which have been carefully planned and scripted, will have the Israelis advising their American counterparts that they are planning an attack, nuclear or non-nuclear as the situation develops, on Iran because a nuclear Iran poses the ‘gravest threat since Hitler’ to the physical survival of the Jewish people. The Israelis will also state that they believe that  by launching a preemptive strike at all possible Iranian sites suspected of participation in their nuclear program they have a reasonable chance of delaying the Iranian nuclear program for at least three to five years,. Further, talking-point secret Israeli memos state: Israel will inform their American counterparts that Israel has no other choice than to launch this attack. They will not ask for permission for this attack, because it will soon be too late to ask for permission.

Insofar as President Trump is concerned, the Israelis are considering the most important point of these interviews would be to discover as to what would be the circumstances under which President Trump would move to halt the Iranian projects. The primary point, then, is to convince the Americans that only military force, i.e., heavy bombing raids, would be able to “totally obliterate Iran’s attempts to get a nuclear weapon and, further, to prevent them from rebuilding their infrastructure in the foreseeable future.” From the Israeli  point of view, all of their future actions, which also include the use of their own nuclear weapons on Tehran depends entirely upon the answers, primarily of the President but also of the American military leadership..

Also, in the possible event that the American President were to agree fully with Israeli wishes, i.e., to use American aircraft to obliterate the perceived Iranian threat by bombing specific, and even general, Iranian targets, could an Israeli-sponsored domestic American propaganda campaign to encourage sections of the American public, outside of the fully-cooperative Jewish community, to support such an American attack.

At the present time, it is well-established that Israeli agents, Mossad and others, have inserted themselves into all the instruments of power and propaganda in the United States where they have sent any pertinent information to Israel and kept up a steady offensive against the minds, and wills, of the American people. Also, many of the more prominent American newspapers, such as the New York Times is entirely Jewish-owned, this is stated to be the most receptive to the needs of both Washington and Tel Aviv.

Israel is fully prepared to take a chance on permanently alienating American affection in order to make a high-risk attempt at stopping Iran. If Iran retaliates against American troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, the consequences for Israel’s relationship with America’s military leadership could be catastrophic.

It has been seriously discussed in Tel Aviv and in the Israeli Embassy in Washington, that probably the best way to compel the American public and through them, the President, to unilateral action, would not be to launch an attack on Tehran but instead, attack America through a false-flag operation. This would consist of a believable attack, or attempted attack, on a major American target a la the 9/11 Saudi-supported attacks.

The most current plan would be for a known militant Arab anti-Israel group, Hezbollah, to actually deliver an atomic device to the city of New York, or, alternatively, to Washington.

The American Central Intelligence Agency, now seeking to reshape its negative image, would report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation the exact details of the arrival and placement of the bomb.

The actual bomb would be genuine but would have a part that was malfunctioning, thus rendering the weapon impossible to detonate. The Arabs involved in this delivery would have in their number, a Yemeni Jew, such as the ones that instigated the 9/11 Saudi attacks, and this sleeper would carry numerous forged documents “proving” that Tehran was directly behind this planned attack.

Revelation of these documents by the fully-supportive New York Times and Washington Post would immediately swing a significant bulk of the American public behind an immediate attack on Tehran with the purpose of neutralizing its atomic weapons capacity.

This program is now on the table and undercover Israeli agents, posing as top-level Iranian operatives, have located a small group of Hizbollah in Lebanon who would be willing to deliver and prepare this device in New York or, as an alternative, Washington itself. Israeli intelligence feels that the use of Hizbollah personnel would entirely justify their obliterating Hizbollah-controlled territory in southern Lebanon that now house many thousands of long-range surface to surface missiles that could easily reach Tel Aviv and other vital Israeli targets.

This action, which has already been planned in detail, would be conducted by Israel alone and would compliment the projected American attack on Tehran. Israel stresses the fact that both attacks must be simultaneous lest a forewarned  Hezbollah launch rocket attacks on Israel upon hearing of the American attack. Timing here is considered to be absolutely vital.

Both Israel and Hezbollah have accused UNIFIL of bias. Israel again accused them of failing to prevent, and even collaborating with, Hezbollah in its replenishment of military power. Hezbollah, in turn, said “certain contingents” of UNIFIL are spying for, if not assisting, Israel.

Israel has long been a serious planning for a future invasion of Lebanon and such an assault would continue attacking until both Hezbollah’s membership and their system of tunnels and bunkers was completely destroyed, because Israel will never tolerate a “zone of invulnerability” occupied by a sworn enemy, or a double threat posed by Hezbollah’s rockets.

In the event that Israeli military aircraft attack Tehran, there is the vital necessity that these Israeli military aircraft would be under great pressure to return to base at once because Israeli intelligence believes that Iran would immediately order Hezbollah to fire rockets at Israeli cities, and Israeli air-force resources would be needed to hunt Hezbollah rocket teams.

Israel’s Northern Command, at its headquarters near the Lebanese border, is ordered that in the event of a unilateral Israeli or American strike on Iran, their mission would be to attack and completely destroy any and all identified Hezbollah rocket forces, by any and all means necessary, to include small nuclear devices that could destroy a number of square miles of what is called ‘terrorist territory’ and render it useless as any future base of attack against Israel. At the present time the Iranians are keeping their Hezbollah firm ally in reserve until Iran can cross the nuclear threshold.

During  the years since the 2006 Israeli attack on Lebanon Hezbollah has greatly increased its surface-to-surface missile capability, and an American/Israeli strike on Iran, would immediately provoke all-out retaliation by Iran’s Lebanese subsidiary, Hezbollah, which now possesses, by most Israeli/American intelligence estimates, as many as 45,000 surface-to-surface rockets—at least three times as many as it had in the summer of 2006, during the last round of fighting between the group and Israel. It is further known that Russia has sent large numbers of longer range surface-to-surface missiles to Syria which has, in turn, shipped them to Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon. These missiles have the capacity to easily reach Tel Aviv and Israelis are very concerned that a massive rocket barrage deep into Israel could not only do serious damage to their infrastructure but could easily provoke a mass immigration of Israelis to other areas, thus depriving Israel of both civilian and military personnel it would certainly need in the event of increased Arab military actions against Israel.

Even if Israel’s Northern Command successfully combated Hezbollah rocket attacks in the wake of an Israeli strike, which American experts have deemed to be “nearly impossible” political limitations would not allow Israel to make repeated sorties over Iran. “America, too, would look complicit in an Israeli attack, even if it had not been forewarned. The assumption—that Israel acts only with the full approval of the United States is a feature of life in the Middle East, and it is one the Israelis are taking into account. A serious danger here to Israeli attack plans would be if the United States got wind of the imminence of such an attack and demanded that Israel cease and desist in its actions. Would Israel then stop? Though highly unlikely, this is an unpleasant and unacceptable

At this time, the Israelis have drawn up specific plans to bomb the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz, the enrichment site at Qom, the nuclear-research center at Esfahan, and the Bushehr reactor, along with four other main sites of the Iranian nuclear program that have been identified by joint past and present Israeli-American aerial surveillance.

If Israeli aircraft succeed in destroying Iran’s centrifuges and warhead and missile plants, all well and good but even if  they fail to damage or destroy these targets ,such an attack is feared by American and other nations as risking a devastating change in the Middle East. Such an attack could initiate immediate reprisals such as a massed rocket attack by Hezbollah from southern Lebanon as well as other actions from neighboring Muslim states.

This could become a major diplomatic crisis for President Trump that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the international price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of seriously endangering Jewish groups around the world, and especially in the United States by making them the targets of Muslim-originated terror attacks and most certainly accelerating the growing immigration of many Israelis to what they felt might be much safer areas.

An Israeli political and military consensus has now emerged that there is a better than 50 percent chance that Israel will launch a strike by December of 2010. (Of course, it is in the Israeli interest to let it be known that the country is considering military action, if for no other reason than to concentrate the attention of the Trump administration. The Netanyahu government is already intensifying its analytic efforts not just on Iran, but on a subject many Israelis have difficulty understanding: President Trump.

The Israelis argue that Iran demands the urgent attention of the entire international community, and in particular the United States, with its unparalleled ability to project military force. This is the position of many moderate Arab leaders as well that if America allowed Iran to cross the nuclear threshold, the small Arab countries of the Gulf would have no choice but to leave the American orbit and ally themselves with Iran, out of self-protection. Several Arab leaders have suggested that America’s standing in the Middle East depends on its willingness to confront Iran. They argue, self-interestedly, that an aerial attack on a handful of Iranian facilities would not be as complicated or as messy as, say, invading Iraq. The basic question then is why the Jewish state should trust the non-Jewish president of the United States to stop Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.

For more than a year, these White House officials have parried the charge that their president is unwilling to face the potential consequences of a nuclear Iran, and they are frustrated by what they believe to be a caricature of his position. It is undeniably true, however, that the administration has appeared on occasion less than stalwart on the issue.

One question no administration official seems eager to answer is this: what will the United States do if sanctions fail?

In Israel, of course, officials expend enormous amounts of energy to understand President Trump, despite the assurances they have received from others. Delegations from Netanyahu’s bureau, from the defense and foreign ministries, and from the Israeli intelligence community have been arriving in Washington lately with great regularity. As an alternative to cooperation by Trump, Israel, through her supporters and lobbyists in the United States are preparing to offer extensive financial and other incentives to political opponents of Trump, mostly the right-wing Republicans and American Christian groups and cults. Both of these groups are being cultivated currently with the idea that if Trump will not cooperate, the Republicans will in the future as they always have before. Also to consider is the current antipathy of American Jews for Netanyahu’s Likud Party, and these American Jews, who are, like the president they voted for in overwhelming numbers, generally supportive of a two-state solution, and dubious about Jewish settlement of the West Bank.

Both Israeli and American intelligence agencies are of the firm belief that Iran is, at most, one to three years away from having a breakout nuclear capability, which is the capacity to assemble more than one missile-ready nuclear device.. The Iranian regime, by its own statements and actions, has made itself Israel’s most zealous foe; and the most crucial component of Israeli national-security doctrine, a tenet that dates back to the 1960s, when Israel developed its own nuclear capability as a response to the Jewish experience during the Holocaust, is that no regional adversary should be allowed to achieve nuclear parity with the reborn and still-besieged Jewish state, the Iranian desire for nuclear weapons and the regime’s theologically motivated desire to see the Jewish state purged from the Middle East

Patriotism in Israel runs very high, according to numerous polls, and it seemed unlikely to me that mere fear of Iran could drive Israel’s Jews to seek shelter elsewhere. But one leading proponent of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities, If Iran crossed the nuclear threshold, the very idea of Israel as a Zionist entity would be endangered. “These people are good citizens, and brave citizens, but the dynamics of life are such that if someone has a scholarship for two years at an American university and the university offers him a third year, the parents will say, ‘Go ahead, remain there,’ If someone finishes a Ph.D. and they are offered a job in America, they might stay there. It will not be that people are running to the airport, but slowly, slowly, the decision-making on the family level will be in favor of staying abroad. The bottom line is that we would have an accelerated brain drain. And an Israel that is not based on entrepreneurship, that is not based on excellence, will not be the Israel of today.”

Most critically if a Zionist Israel is no longer seen by its 6 million Jewish inhabitants and also by the approximately 7 millions of Jews resident outside of Israel that because of continuing threats from outside the country as no longer a natural safe haven for Jews then the entire concept of a Zionist haven/state is destroyed

To understand why Israelis of different political dispositions see Iran as quite possibly the most crucial challenge they have faced in their 62-year history, one must keep in mind the near-sanctity, in the public’s mind, of Israel’s nuclear monopoly. The Israeli national narrative, in shorthand, begins with shoah, which is Hebrew for “calamity,” and ends with tkumah, “rebirth.” Israel’s nuclear arsenal symbolizes national rebirth, and something else as well: that Jews emerged from World War II having learned at least one lesson, about the price of powerlessness.

If Israel is unable to change Trump’s mind, they will continue to threaten to take unilateral action against Iran by sending approximately one hundred F-15Es, F-16Is, F-16Cs, and other aircraft of the Israeli air force to fly east toward Iran—by crossing Saudi Arabia, and along the border between Syria and Turkey, and, without consulting the Americans or in any way announcing their missions  by traveling directly through Iraq’s airspace, though it is crowded with American aircraft. (It’s so crowded, in fact, that the United States Central Command, whose area of responsibility is the greater Middle East, has already asked the Pentagon what to do should Israeli aircraft invade its airspace. According to multiple sources, the answer came back: do not shoot them down.)

The first belief by Israeli military planners is that Israel would get only one try. Israeli planes would fly low over Saudi Arabia, bomb their targets in Iran, and return to Israel by flying again over Saudi territory, possibly even landing in the Saudi desert for refueling—perhaps, if speculation rife in intelligence circles is to be believed, with secret Saudi cooperation.

Israel has been working through the United States to procure Saudi cooperation with an Israeli air strike against Tehran and other targets inside Iran.. The Saudis are treating this subject with great caution lest other Arab states learn of their putative cooperation in an Iranian attack with over flights of Saudi territory by Israeli military aircraft.

The current American/Israeli military plans are for the Saudis to turn off their radar after they have been noticed by the American embassy that an Israeli attack is imminent and also to permit the Israeli aircraft to land in their country for refueling The Israelis are not concerned with any kind of Iranian aircraft resistance because their airfields have been pinpointed by American satellites and one of the attacking groups would use low-yield atomic rocketry on all the identified Iranian bases. It is obvious that when, not if, the Saudis part in this becomes public, it will create immense ill-will in neighboring Muslim states, an impression the Saudi government is most anxious not to deal with.

Israel has twice before successfully attacked and destroyed an enemy’s nuclear program. In 1981, Israeli warplanes bombed the Iraqi reactor at Osirak, halting—forever, as it turned out—Saddam Hussein’s nuclear ambitions; and in 2007, Israeli planes destroyed a North Korean–built reactor in Syria. An attack on Iran, then, would be unprecedented only in scope and complexity.

The reasoning offered by Israeli decision makers was uncomplicated: At the present moment, Israel possesses 135 nuclear weapons, most of them  mainly two-stage thermonuclear devices, capable of being delivered by missile, fighter-bomber, or submarine (two of which are currently positioned in the Persian Gulf). Netanyahu is worried about an entire complex of problems, not only that Iran, or one of its proxies, would, in all probability, destroy or severely damage Tel Aviv; like most Israeli leaders, he believes that if Iran gains possession of a nuclear weapon, it will use its new leverage to buttress its terrorist proxies in their attempts to make life difficult and dangerous; and that Israel’s status as a haven for Jews would be forever undermined, and with it, the entire raison d’être of the 100-year-old Zionist experiment.

Another question Israeli planners struggle with: how will they know if their attacks have actually destroyed a significant number of centrifuges and other hard-to-replace parts of the clandestine Iranian program? Two strategists told me that Israel will have to dispatch commandos to finish the job, if necessary, and bring back proof of the destruction. The commandos—who, according to intelligence sources, may be launched from the autonomous Kurdish territory in northern Iraq—would be facing a treacherous challenge, but one military planner I spoke with said the army would have no choice but to send them.

Netanyahu’s obvious course is to convince the United States  that Iran is not Israel’s problem alone; it is the world’s problem, and the world, led by the United States, is obligated to grapple with it, not Israel alone. It is well-known that Israel by itself could not hope to deal with a retaliation against it by Iran and other Arab states but that a confederation of other nations, led, of course, by the United States could defend Israel against her enemies. The Israeli Prime Minister, Netanyahu, does not place and credence in the current sanctions against Iran, even the ones initiated by the United States at Israel’s urgent request. Is it known that Netanayahu is not happy with President Trumps’s reluctance to support an Israeli attack on Iran and has brought a great deal of political pressure to bear on the President by American Jewish political and business groups.

Netanyahu understands, however, that President Trump, with whom he has had a difficult and intermittently frigid relationship, believes that stringent sanctions, combined with various enticements to engage with the West, might still provide Iran with a face-saving method of standing down.

Israel’s current period of forbearance, in which Israel’s leadership waits to see if the West’s nonmilitary methods can stop Iran, will come to an end this December.  The American defense secretary, said at a meeting of NATO defense ministers that most intelligence estimates predict that Iran is one to three years away from building a nuclear weapon. “

One of the consistent aims of Israel is to pressure President Trump, who has said on a number of occasions that he finds the prospect of a nuclear Iran “unacceptable,” into executing a military strike against Iran’s known main weapons and uranium-enrichment facilities.

Donald Trump is steadfastly opposed to initiating new wars in the Middle East and an attack by U.S. forces on Iran is not a foreign-policy goal for him or his administration. The Israeli goal is to compel him by public, and private, pressure to order the American military into action against Iran

President Trump has said any number of times that he would find a nuclear Iran “unacceptable.” His most stalwart comments on the subject have been discounted by some Israeli officials

If the Israelis reach the firm conclusion that Trump will not, under any circumstances, launch a strike on Iran, then the countdown will begin for a unilateral Israeli attack.


How big pharma’s money – and its politicians – feed the US opioid crisis

Tom Marino might have withdrawn from consideration as Trump’s drug czar, but drug money is coursing through the veins of Congress – contributing directly to an epidemic that kills thousands of Americans each year

October 19. 2017

by Chris McGreal in Washington

The Guardian

Donald Trump was not wrong. Hours before his nominee for “drug czar” withdrew from consideration over his part in a law limiting the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to crack down on pharmaceutical distributors feeding the US’s opioid epidemic, the president took a shot at the influence of drug companies over Congress.

“They contribute massive amounts of money to political people,” he said, standing next to Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader.

“I don’t know, Mitch, maybe even to you,” he added.

Trump was right on both counts. Pharmaceutical companies spend far more than any other industry to influence politicians. Drugmakers have poured close to $2.5bn into lobbying and funding members of Congress over the past decade.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have gone to McConnell – although he is hardly alone. Nine out of 10 members of the House of Representatives and all but three of the US’s 100 senators have taken campaign contributions from pharmaceutical companies seeking to affect legislation on everything from the cost of drugs to how new medicines are approved.

Trump’s nominee for drug czar, the US congressman Tom Marino, was forced to withdraw after a report by the Washington Post and CBS’s 60 Minutes highlighted his role in forging legislation that hinders the DEA’s ability to move against drug distributors or pharmacies recklessly dispensing the opioid painkillers at the heart of the epidemic, which claims more than 100 lives a day.

Marino’s acceptance of substantial donations from those same companies compromised his nomination to head the federal agency charged with tackling the opioid crisis.

But for Congress, the process was nothing unusual. Hundreds of millions of dollars flow to lobbyists and politicians on Capitol Hill each year to shape laws and policies that keep drug company profits growing. The pharmaceutical industry, which has about two lobbyists for every member of Congress, spent $152m on influencing legislation in 2016, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Drug companies also contributed more than $20m directly to political campaigns last year. About 60% went to Republicans. Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House of Representatives, was the single largest beneficiary, with donations from the industry totaling $228,670.

The impact of so much drug company money coursing through the veins of Congress is often incremental or largely unseen by the American public, such as the industry’s efforts to block competitors in India from making generic versions of HIV/Aids medicines that are more affordable to developing countries.

But on occasion it has a hugely visible impact.

In his comments alongside McConnell, Trump was vocal in his criticism of what he said were pharmaceutical manufacturers “getting away with murder” by charging much higher prices in the US than other countries. That is the result of a 2003 law, in effect written by the industry, preventing the federal government from seeking bids for the manufacture of drugs and medical devices – a process used in other areas, such as defence spending.

Instead, the pharmaceutical companies can charge whatever price they want for drugs bought for the publicly run Medicare and Medicaid programmes – and the federal government has no choice but to pay up.

Meanwhile, the drug companies say that to allow foreign imports would endanger the quality and safety of medicines in the US. But that justification has been widely scorned in the face of escalating and sometimes opportunistic pricing, such as the surge in the price of EpiPen antidotes to allergic reactions last year, to $600.

Britain’s National Health Service negotiated a price of about $70 for the same product. Scores of attempts by some members of Congress to introduce legislation to bring down the price of prescription medicines or to let people buy them from Canada, where they are often cheaper, have failed to make it out of committee.

While lobbying shapes medical policy across the board, it has had a profound impact on the opioid epidemic  as deaths quadrupled between 1999 and 2015. The pharmaceutical industry poured resources into attempting to place blame for the crisis on the millions who have became addicted instead of on the mass prescribing of powerful opioids.

The relatively small number of members of Congress who led the charge against the epidemic years before it became a significant political issue have struggled to push through legislation.

Representatives Hal Rogers and Mary Bono saw repeated efforts to pass laws curbing the mass prescribing of opioid painkillers fail amid concerted campaigns by the drug makers. Rogers and Bono founded the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse in 2010 and proposed several pieces of legislation over a number of years.

Bono, who was alerted to the opioid crisis after Chesare, her son with the late singer Sonny Bono, became addicted, said there was a false but effective campaign by companies profiting from the epidemic to portray any attempt to rein in the mass prescribing of painkillers as depriving millions of people of legitimate treatment for chronic pain.

“We were getting tremendous pushback from the industry. It was a massive, well-organised effort,” she said. “Of course we felt it, maybe indirectly at times. We didn’t have an awful lot of people lining up to help us.”

Some of the pressure came through industry-funded groups such as the Pain Care Forum, which spent $740m over a decade lobbying in Washington and state legislatures against limits on opioid prescribing and similar issues, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

Among those who received political contributions from the group were Senator Orrin Hatch, who took $360,000. The senator introduced legislation intended to head off one of the bills put forward by Rogers and Bono by proposing a federal study of pain treatment. Hatch, who is running for Senate again in 2018 even though he previously said he would not, is the recipient of the most political donations from the pharmaceutical industry so far this year, at $208,000.

Bono said the American Medical Association was instrumental in blocking another law, the Ryan Creedon act, to require doctors to get training on the risks of opioids. The AMA objected to it as a burden on physicians.

Drug companies gave more than $200,000 in campaign contributions to Jason Chaffetz (who recently left Congress), acting as the single largest donor to his re-election fights. Chaffetz, as chair of the committee on oversight and government reform, led an effort against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to reduce opioid prescribing by recommending that doctors first seek alternative treatments for chronic pain.

Lobbying by the wider healthcare industry also had an important impact on the shape of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), widely known as Obamacare.

The chair of the committee drafting the ACA legislation, Senator Max Baucus, was at the time the single largest recipient of health industry political donations, with $1.5m given to his political fund over the previous year. Baucus led votes in the committee against the inclusion in the legislation of public insurance strongly opposed by private insurers who saw a threat to its profits.

Baucus was known within the health industry for annual fly-fishing and golfing weekends in his home state of Montana that lobbyists paid handsomely to attend. Other members of the committee received hundreds of thousands of dollars, including Senator Pat Roberts, who at one point tried to hold up the bill by claiming lobbyists needed three days to read it. The drafting of large parts of the ACA was done by a former vice-president of a major health insurer, Wellpoint.

In his attack on drug company money in American politics, Trump failed to mention that the companies were among the leading donors to his inauguration alongside tobacco and oil companies.

Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, was the largest pharmaceutical donor, giving $1m.

Who let Hillary Clinton keep computer server for almost 2 yrs after leaving post? – analyst

October 18, 2017


Keeping her email server after she left office is akin to borrowing Air Force Two for 18 months and then giving it back to the government at the end of the day, claims investor and author Charles Ortel.

Meanwhile, declassified information suggests the conclusion of the Hillary Clinton email scandal was prepared before the investigation had concluded.

Former FBI director James Comey had his final statement into Clinton’s use of a private server ready while she was secretary of state, two months before the probe ended in July 2016.

RT: What do you make of this latest revelation on the Clinton email investigation?

Charles Ortel: I think it is a very dangerous sort of revelation. I would implore people to understand the real issue is not whether or not Hillary Clinton and others had classified information on this private server. The real issue is who allowed Hillary Clinton, while secretary of state, and the various cronies associated with her and employees and contractors, to operate this private server during her entire tenure and then to let her and her team continue to operate, and hold all of the contents that were on this server for almost two years after she had left the post. This is akin to deciding that what you are going to do is to take Air Force Two after you leave, and use it for 18 months and then give it back to the government at the end of the day. It is very damaging information.

RT: Why would James Comey draft the statement and then wait for two months to officially close the probe?

CO: There are no good reasons. The Federal Bureau is the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it has amazing power, particularly against American citizens, particularly against people with assets, to get to the bottom of what really happened. Not what was in Hillary’s book. It sure seems to me that it is past time for serious investigators around the world to look back into the long history of James Comey – predating his role in the 2001 and 2005 investigation of the Clinton Foundation – to ask what he, what Rod Rosenstein, Andrew McCabe, what Robert Mueller and others, what conflicts they may have in getting to the bottom of what was really going on with this server, with the Clintons, with the Foundation, and with the possible operation of a pay to play scandal while Hillary was secretary of state. This reeks.


Backroom battle imperils $230 million cryptocurrency venture

The people running a blockchain computer project called Tezos staged a hugely successful fundraiser in July. But its central players are waging a bitter feud over control that threatens to derail one of the biggest-ever digital currency offerings.

October 18, 2017

by Anna Irrera, Steve Stecklow and Brenna Hughes Neghaiwi


ZUG, Switzerland/NEW YORK – Just three months ago, a tech project called Tezos raised $232 million online in a wildly successful “initial coin offering,” in which new digital currency is parceled out to buyers. At the time, it was the most money ever raised from the public in the white-hot cryptocurrency sector.

But the venture is now in danger of falling apart because of a battle for control playing out behind the scenes, Reuters has learned.

The acrimonious dispute pits Tezos’ two young founders – Arthur and Kathleen Breitman – against Johann Gevers, the president of a Swiss foundation the couple helped establish to handle the coin offering and promote and develop the Tezos computer network.

Under Swiss law, the foundation is supposed to be independent. It holds all of the funds raised, which have mushroomed to more than $400 million in value because the contributions were made in two cryptocurrencies – bitcoin and ether – that have appreciated sharply. But the Breitmans, who still control the Tezos source code through a Delaware company, are seeking to oust the head of the foundation.

An attorney for the Breitmans sent a 46-page letter on Sunday to the two other members of the foundation’s three-person board, calling for Gevers’ prompt removal and seeking to give the couple a “substantial role” in a new structure that would limit the foundation’s responsibilities. The document accuses Gevers of “self-dealing, self-promotion and conflicts of interest.” According to Gevers, the two board members later suggested via email that he step aside for a month while they investigate.

Gevers told Reuters he is not stepping down. “As Arthur has done to others before me,” Gevers said, “this is attempted character assassination. It’s a long laundry list of misleading statements and outright lies.” He said the other two board members “are attempting an illegal coup.”

The Breitmans have been trying to control the foundation as if it were their own private entity, Gevers said, by bypassing the foundation’s legal structure and interfering with management and operations. This has resulted in costly delays in developing and launching the Tezos network and new currency, he said.

“They’re unnecessarily putting the project at risk,” he said.

In a written statement sent to Reuters, the Breitmans reiterated their accusations against Gevers and said they acted “in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.” They said their priority “remains the successful launch of the Tezos network.”

Hundreds of millions of dollars are at stake: The Tezos digital coins, called “Tezzies,” are already priced at a hefty premium in futures trading even though they don’t yet exist. The launching of the Tezos network, which will trigger the coins’ release, has been delayed. Until the network launches – and no date is set – contributors to the fundraiser will receive nothing.

Under the terms of the Tezos coin offering, there’s no guarantee participants will ever receive a single Tez.  Participants agreed to accept the risk that the project “may be abandoned.” Despite the feud, Gevers said he remains committed to resolving the disagreements so that “this project succeeds.”

The tale of how two young entrepreneurs raised a fortune for a project barely out of the starting blocks is reported here in detail for the first time. It highlights the risks inherent in the current frenzy for ICOs, in which tech startups issue new cryptocurrencies to raise capital.

Reuters reported last month that cryptocurrency exchanges  – where virtual currencies are bought, sold and stored – have become magnets for fraud and deception. More than 980,000 bitcoins – the most popular virtual currency – have been stolen since 2011. Today they would be worth about $5.5 billion.

Similar large sums are pouring into initial coin offerings. From January through September, ICOs generated $2.2 billion, more than three times the amount invested in similar startups by traditional venture capital firms, according to Novum Insights, a data provider.

ICOs can be a way for technology projects to raise money online to finance the development of new, open-source computer networks that aren’t necessarily looking to make a profit. Contributors receive new digital coins, or tokens, which they typically need to “pay” to access the new networks.

But the recent flurry of ICOs raising millions of dollars has attracted some dubious business propositions and outright scams, as well as speculators looking to trade the coins for swift gains. Authorities in the United States, Switzerland, China, Singapore and other nations have begun scrutinizing the sector closely for potentially tougher regulation.

“Most ICOs are bought by people looking to ‘flip’ their tokens to a greater fool for a quick profit,” said Alistair Milne, a co-founder of the London-based Altana Digital Currency Fund, which so far has avoided ICOs. More than “90 percent will fall to have a near-zero value in time,” he predicted.

The new cryptocurrencies function through a technology called blockchain, essentially a public ledger maintained by a network of computers. Blockchain applications are being tested by financial services firms, food suppliers, retailers and other businesses as a way to make record-keeping simpler and cheaper. Tezos aims to be a blockchain that’s more reliable than the ones behind bitcoin and ether. Several entrepreneurs and investors in the blockchain industry said the Tezos technology has potential because it would be easier to upgrade and may be more secure than other blockchains.


The son of Jean-Claude Deret, a French playwright and actor, Arthur Breitman studied applied mathematics, computer science and physics in France, before moving to the United States and studying financial mathematics at New York University. He went on to work for the investment banks Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

He is still listed as a co-organizer and “dear leader” for the New York Anarcho-Capitalist Meetup in New York, which describes its philosophy as “a type of radical libertarianism that favors the abundant wealth production, rapid technological development, and high standards of living produced by capitalism.” Its website adds, “We are also fairly lazy about fighting the state.”

It was at a crypto-anarchist lunch in 2010 that Breitman first met Kathleen McCaffrey, an American college student from New Jersey. She is described on a political blog called The Politicizer as a libertarian Republican who first became interested in politics after listening to the provocative radio personality Rush Limbaugh at the age of five. She married Breitman in 2013.

Kathleen Breitman, now 27, later worked at the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates and at R3, a blockchain company. In a July post on the conservative website legalinsurrection.com, she said she “didn’t get along” at the hedge fund but had “a great time” at R3.

Bridgewater didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Arthur Breitman, 35, was an early fan of bitcoin, which first appeared around 2009. But he came to believe there were flaws in the blockchains behind bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, finding them hard to upgrade and not secure. He tried to come up with something better.

In the summer of 2014, while working at Morgan Stanley in quantitative finance, Breitman released two papers online that presented his concept for a new type of blockchain. He called it Tezos, a name his wife has said he coined after creating an algorithm that searched for the names of unclaimed websites pronounceable in English.

The papers were published under a pseudonym, “L. M Goodman,” but emails and messages from Arthur Breitman reviewed by Reuters make it clear he was the author.

In an email Breitman sent to an acquaintance in early 2015, he said he was seeking to create a business based on Tezos but was trying not to be associated publicly with the project at the time. He expressed worry that his activities might conflict with his employment at Morgan Stanley, messages show.

Reuters reviewed a copy of a “Tezos Business Plan” from early 2015, which listed Breitman as chief executive. The plan projected that if the company survived 15 years, it would be worth between $2 billion and $20 billion. The budget called for paying Breitman $212,180 in salary by year three. In August 2015, Breitman, who was still working at Morgan Stanley, set up a company in Delaware called Dynamic Ledger Solutions Inc, or DLS, to develop Tezos. He listed himself as chief executive.

The U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) requires registered securities professionals to provide prior written notice to their employer to conduct outside business activities if there is “reasonable expectation of compensation.” According to FINRA records, Breitman was registered and did not report any “other business activities.” Morgan Stanley and FINRA declined to comment.

“We made all the proper disclosures,” Kathleen Breitman told Reuters in June. “It was a hobby, you know. And like there was never any intention to really commercialize any of the software.” She added: “We had some meetings with like C-suite executives at banks … but honestly nothing serious.”


In 2015, Arthur Breitman was pitching “Tezos Inc.” in the hope of creating a consortium of four to five banks to adopt the technology and fund the operation. The business plan reviewed by Reuters called for raising $5 million to $10 million over two to three years.

By then, blockchain was beginning to pique the interest of large financial institutions for its potential to help cut costs of cumbersome back-office processes, such as the clearing and settlement of securities trades. Tezos’ 37-page business plan called it “an Internet for financial transactions” and said the technology could be used to automate the over-the-counter derivatives trading market.

But Breitman failed to attract backers. He told Reuters in June that he blamed his fundraising failures on the decision to develop the technology first, rather than just selling “a dream” as other blockchain startups were doing.

“I guess I was a terrible salesman as well,” he said.

“I can speak to that,” his wife said.

In April 2016, Arthur left Morgan Stanley, and by that September, the Breitmans had started working on a new strategy for Tezos – to conduct an online fundraiser to distribute digital tokens, whose holders would maintain the Tezos blockchain. But the couple needed funds to keep the project going.

Over the next six months, they received $612,000 from 10 early backers, including several cryptocurrency hedge funds, according to the Tezos.com website.

To conduct the ICO, the Breitmans chose a complex structure. Earlier this year, they helped to create a foundation based in Zug, Switzerland – dubbed “Crypto Valley” because of its many blockchain startups – that is seeking not-for-profit status, emails show. The idea, according to documents on the Tezos website, was that the foundation would raise money via the ICO, then acquire DLS, the Breitman-controlled company that has been developing Tezos.

Working through a Swiss foundation, the Breitmans thought, would provide regulatory oversight but not too much. Kathleen Breitman told Reuters in June that she and her husband opted to use a foundation based in Zug because Switzerland has “a regulatory authority that had a sufficient amount of oversight but not like anything too crazy.”

Georg von Schnurbein, co-author of a book on Swiss foundation governance, expressed surprise over cryptocurrency ventures like Tezos setting up not-for-profit foundations in Switzerland. “For me, the public interest is not clear,” he said. While not illegal, he said, creating a foundation with the aim of allowing inventors to profit from a sale conflicted with its status as a not-for-profit, which is supposed to benefit the public. He said federal regulators eventually might prohibit it.

“The issue that there is some kind of for-profit entity and there are transfers right at the beginning is something that is working at the moment, but won’t be sustainable,” he said.


As work continued for the ICO, which was originally scheduled to be held in May, the project started running out of cash, Kathleen Breitman told Reuters. She spoke with Tim Draper, the well-known founding partner of Silicon Valley venture capital firm DFJ and a staunch bitcoin supporter. He invested $1.5 million through his firm, Draper Associates, which included taking a minority stake in DLS, the company that controls the Tezos source code.

The Breitmans had also hired Strange Brew Strategies, a U.S. communications company, to promote their project, and Reuters wrote a news story on May 5 about Draper’s involvement.

In pitching the story to Reuters, John O’Brien, a principal of Strange Brew, had made claims about Tezos’ progress. He wrote: “The applications of Tezos, ranging from derivatives settlement to micro-insurance, are real and recognized by industry giants. Ernst & Young, Deloitte, LexiFi, etc. have adopted Tezos in their development environments and labs.”

On Oct. 3, a spokeswoman for the accounting firm Ernst & Young told Reuters: “The statement is not correct. EY has not adopted Tezos.” A spokesman for Deloitte said Tezos’ code is “one of many technologies we’re considering” with blockchain, but it’s “still early stage and we haven’t used the technology for a client project.”

Jean-Marc Eber, CEO of the French software company LexiFi, said, “The sentence, as stated, isn’t accurate and unfortunately exaggerated, to say the least.” While there had been “informal contacts,” he said, “at this stage, LexiFi has not adopted Tezos’ technology in its development environment or labs.”

Strange Brew declined to answer questions about the statement.


The Tezos fundraiser began on July 1. The Breitmans had wide-ranging expectations about how much they might raise. A document on Tezos.com suggested that if they received more than $20 million, they might use it to “negotiate with a small nation-state” to adopt Tezzies, or acquire mainstream print and TV media outlets to promote the technology. In June, Kathleen Breitman told Reuters that about a year ago, when the price of bitcoin was lower, “we were like, ‘Hey, we would be lucky if we get 20 million.’”

When it ended after 13 days, the project received about 66,000 bitcoins and 361,000 ethers, worth about $232 million at the time. The hoard is now worth about twice that.

Kathleen Breitman told Reuters that participating in the Tezos fundraiser was like contributing to a public television station and receiving “a tote bag” in return. “That’s kind of the same thing here,” she said.

The fundraiser’s terms called the contributions “a non-refundable donation” and not a “speculative investment.”

If deemed a donation, and not a security, the funds raised might not fall under the remit of financial regulators in the United States. In the U.S., investments in assets such as company shares and other securities are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC has been studying ICOs, and in July issued an investor bulletin that warned: “Depending on the facts and circumstances of each individual ICO, the virtual coins or tokens that are offered or sold may be securities.”

Part of the SEC’s assessment is to examine the reasonable expectations of participants in the ICO. Some participants in the Tezos fundraiser told Reuters they viewed the coins at least partly as an investment.

Kevin Zhou, co-founder of the cryptocurrency trading fund Galois Capital, said he invested about five bitcoins in Tezos, which he considers overall one of the better ICOs.

“For me and for a lot of people this is an investment. We are looking for a return,” Zhou said. “I don’t really care about” using the Tezos technology, he added.

Draper told Reuters that cryptocurrencies are commodities like pork bellies, and characterized acquiring Tezzies as a purchase rather than a donation. Asked this month how much he donated during the Tezos fundraiser, he replied via email, “You mean how much I bought? A lot.”


At the moment, the Tezos Foundation holds all of the fundraising proceeds, while the Breitmans, through their Delaware company, control much of Tezos’ intellectual property. The plan is for the foundation to acquire the Breitmans’ company and release the technology under a free software license, according a “Transparency Memo” on the Tezos website.

Gevers, who founded the Tezos Foundation, said it has a contract that stipulates the Breitmans will either sell the Delaware company to the foundation “within a reasonable point of time” or, if they don’t, “the foundation can take it.” He declined to provide a copy of the contract.

When the foundation will acquire the Breitmans’ company remains unclear. Kathleen Breitman told Reuters in June, “Essentially, you know, they’re going to buy out the company in like July or so, I guess.”

The Breitmans stand to receive millions of dollars if the deal goes through. According to the “Transparency Memo,” the new blockchain “must launch and operate successfully” for three months, then DLS’s shareholders – the Breitmans and Draper – are entitled to receive 8.5 percent of the fundraiser proceeds in cash. That amount, according to Gevers, is about $19.7 million. The shareholders also are slated to receive another 10 percent of the Tezzies issued, with the coin distribution spread out over four years. Those coins currently are worth about $140 million in futures trading.

Prior to the fundraiser, Kathleen Breitman effused about Gevers, 52, a Zug-based South African entrepreneur who has never before run a foundation. During an “Ask Me Anything” session in May on an online chat channel, she posted: “He’s awesome. Total mensch and very philosophically committed to our project.”

Relations later soured. The Breitmans objected to people the foundation suggested it wanted to hire, Gevers said. Another sticking point: The couple’s company hasn’t relinquished control over the foundation’s own website, www.tezos.ch.

“They control the foundation’s domains, websites and email servers, so the foundation has no control or confidentiality in its own communications,” Gevers said.

The Breitmans officially have no role at the Tezos Foundation. The letter from their lawyer this week proposed the creation of two foundation subsidiaries – Tezos AG and Tezos France SA – to develop and support Tezos, with the Breitmans serving as chief executive and chief technology officer of Tezos AG. The couple also would be given “observer status” on the foundation board. The foundation would then “limit” its activities to supervising and supporting the subsidiaries, “rather than conducting any direct operations.”

According to von Schnurbein, under Swiss law “the foundation is completely independent and the foundation board is completely independent.” Gevers said the foundation wants the couple to continue playing a leading advisory role. “They are both very competent people and obviously they started this whole thing. And it would be stupid to exclude them.”

But he added: “You can rest assured as long as I have anything to do with this, the foundation will be independent.”

As for the hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrencies raised in the ICO, Gevers said the foundation has slowly begun selling the virtual currencies – lately about $10.2 million worth a week – and plans to invest the proceeds in a diverse portfolio. The funds are intended to be used to run the foundation, ensure Tezos works and help to develop products using the technology.

So where are all the bitcoins and ethers raised in the ICO stored? That, Gevers said, was confidential.

“These are not held in any one place,” he said, “but secured through high-security” digital wallets “that no single party has control over.”

McCain As Metaphor

October 19, 2017

by Justin Raimondo


Some people are living symbols, sheer embodiments of a concept that fits their persona as snugly as their skin: e.g. the Dalai Lama personifies Contemplative Piety, Harvey Weinstein is the incarnation of Brazen Vulgarity, and John McCain’s very person exudes the sweaty blustery spirit of Empire. His entire history – born in the Panama Canal zone, son of an admiral, third-generation centurion, the War Party’s senatorial spokesman – made it nearly impossible for him to be other than what he is: the country’s most outspoken warmonger and dedicated internationalist.

As George Orwell remarked, “After forty, everyone has the face they deserve,” and in McCain’s case this is doubly true. That Roman head, fit for a coin of high denomination, looks as if it might sprout a crown of laurel leaves at any moment:  Grizzled brow, wrinkled with the tension of an inborn belligerence, eyes alight with a perpetual flame of self-righteous anger, McCain is Teddy Roosevelt impersonating Cato the Elder. In the extreme predictability of his warlike effusions, he’s become a bit of a cartoon character. Who can forget his enthusiastic rendition of “Bomb bomb bomb Iran!” to the tune of “Barbara Ann”?

The Senator from Arizona represents something relatively new on the American scene: the emerging class of colonial administrators, Pentagon contractors, and high-ranking military personnel, and their families, many of them stationed overseas. These people have a material interest in the expansion of our role as global cop, they number in the tens of thousands, and they are strategically placed in the social order, with enough social power to constitute an influential lobby.

As the prototype of this mutant species of Homo Americanus, McCain is the perfect enemy of the new nationalism that handed the White House to Donald Trump and sundered the Brits from the EU. It’s no surprise he’s become the antipode of the Trumpian “America First” foreign policy doctrine – a doctrine that is almost never implemented, but that’s another column. His latest philippic perfectly summarizes the spirit and content of the brazen imperialism that is his credo and the credo of his class, We get the whole grand tour of McCainism as a worldview, from the rather odd idea that “America is an idea” and not an actual place to the glories of the “international order.” There is much shedding of blood “to make a better world” – a cause we are told has “made our own civilization more just, freer, more accomplished and prosperous than the America that existed when I watched my father go off to war on December 7, 1941.” Now here is crackpot Keynesianism with a vengeance: the destruction of World War II was good for the economy!

Having “liberated” the world from itself, the United States, as the champion of World Order, is in danger of turning away from its sacred duty to always be shedding lots and lots of blood on behalf of Others. And we know just who McCain is talking about:

“To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain ‘the last best hope of earth’ for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history.”

The idea that we led and organized the world for the entire postwar era erases the cold war from history, a neat trick given McCain’s record. And as for our “ideals” and this “last best hope” business, none of that is worth a single American soldier – nor does it have anything to do with a soldier’s proper job, which is protecting this country. Yet what is one to expect from someone who actually believes “we live in a land of ideals, not blood and soil.” Blood never comes into it for McCain unless it’s being shed in some ill-conceived totally unnecessary war. And as for soil – there is none. There’s just “ideals,” floating in a void.

While admitting that the Trumpian version of American nationalism is somewhat undercooked – and, perhaps, not all that digestible – one has to wonder: where does a supporter of the Iraq war, who assured us it would be a glorious victory, get off calling anybody or anything half-baked?

McCain doesn’t even try making a coherent argument: instead, he simply lies by claiming that, having taken the road to Empire, “we have become incomparably powerful and wealthy as we did.” It’s utter nonsense, of course: empires are an expansive luxury. We spend more on the military than the top ten powers combined, and the national debt is at historic heights. We’re effectively bankrupt thanks to out-of-control military spending and McCain’s favored wars of choice.

The idea that we have a “moral obligation” to enforce McCain’s beloved “international order” is rooted in the crazed post-millennial pietism that has motivated so much that is mischievous in American history. The old religious impulse that motivated Prohibition and the “anti-vice” campaigns of the nineteenth century has, today, been secularized and internationalized. The old fundamentalists sought to remake the country, their secular successors seek to remake the world. This accounts for the quasi-religious tone of McCain’s remarks, this talk of “moral obligation” and “shame” if we fail to take up the burden of Empire, manfully and willfully, because “We will not thrive in a world where our leadership and ideals are absent. We wouldn’t deserve to.”

In other words: Americans have no right to live their lives in peace, and to leave others in the same condition: they must perpetually be sticking their noses in other peoples’ business, sniffing out “injustice” and making sure the trains run on time. McCain hails the crusade to “help make another, better world” – yet the American people don’t want another world, they want to live in this world in peace and security, rather than sacrificing themselves to some imaginary “duty” to uplift the world on Uncle Sam’s shoulders. That’s one reason why Trump is in the White House and McCain is on the outside looking in.

Catalonia crisis: Spain moves to suspend autonomy

October 19, 2017

BBC News

Spain is to start suspending Catalonia’s autonomy from Saturday, as the region’s leader threatens to declare independence.

The government said ministers would meet to activate Article 155 of the constitution, allowing it to take over running of the region.

Catalonia’s leader said the region’s parliament would vote on independence if Spain continued “repression”.

Catalans voted to secede in a referendum outlawed by Spain.

Some fear the latest moves could spark further unrest after mass demonstrations before and since the ballot on 1 October.

Spain’s supreme court declared the vote illegal and said it violated the constitution, which describes the country as indivisible.

Article 155 of the constitution, which cemented democratic rule three years after the death of dictator General Francisco Franco in 1975, allows Madrid to impose direct rule in a crisis but it has never been invoked.

BBC Madrid correspondent Tom Burridge says that for Madrid this is about upholding the rule of law in Catalonia, protecting the Spanish constitution and disciplining what it sees as an unruly, disobedient devolved government.

However, the central government wants to minimise the risk of large-scale demonstrations, our correspondent says. Civil servants and government lawyers have thought long and hard about what measures to adopt and when and how they should be implemented.

A slow game

by Katya Adler, BBC Europe editor

The Catalan crisis is reaching breaking point but we have to be careful here. Nothing will happen from one day to the next.

Political rhetoric aside, both the Spanish government and Catalan regional leaders know sentiments are running so high across Spain at the moment, that millions are poised to take to the streets.

Once the shopping list of measures has been decided, the Catalan leader has the right of reply and we’re told there is no legal window of opportunity for him to do so, meaning this could take days or weeks.

Finally, the Spanish Senate needs to approve the measures.

What is Madrid’s position?

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy had set a deadline of 10:00 local time (08:00 GMT) for Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont to offer a definitive answer on the independence question, and called on him to “act sensibly”.

When it passed, the Spanish government accused the Catalan authorities of seeking confrontation.

“The Spanish government will continue with the procedures outlined in Article 155 of the Constitution to restore legality in Catalonia’s self-government,” it said.

It denounces the attitude maintained by those in charge of the Generalitat [Catalan government] to seek, deliberately and systematically, institutional confrontation despite the serious damage that is being caused to the coexistence and the economic structure of Catalonia.

“No-one doubts that the Spanish government will do all it can to restore the constitutional order.”

What happens now?

Mr Rajoy is due to attend an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday afternoon.

On Saturday the government will be expected to draw up a list of specific measures under Article 155 of the constitution, launching the transfer of powers from Catalonia to Madrid.

The article says: “If a self-governing community does not fulfil the obligations imposed upon it by the constitution or other laws, or acts in a way that is seriously prejudicial to the general interest of Spain, the government… may… take all measures necessary to compel the community to meet said obligations, or to protect the above-mentioned general interest.”

It is thought the measures implemented could range from taking control of the regional police and finances to calling a snap election.

Spain’s Senate, controlled by Mr Rajoy’s conservative Popular Party (PP) and its allies, would then have to approve the list.

Analysts say Article 155 does not give the government the power to fully suspend autonomy, and it will not be able to deviate from the list of measures.

And Xavier Arbós, a constitutional expert at the University of Barcelona, said the situation was moving into “uncharted territory”.

He told the BBC: “We simply do not know what measures the Spanish government could enact. We do not know how the powers of the Catalan government could be affected.”

Where does this leave the Catalan leader?

Mr Puigdemont said in a letter to Mr Rajoy on Thursday morning that the independence declaration remained suspended but this could change.

“If the government continues to impede dialogue and continues with the repression, the Catalan parliament could proceed, if it is considered opportune, to vote on a formal declaration of independence.”

But he faces an uphill struggle – it is likely that senior figures in charge of internal security in Catalonia could be dismissed, and control of the region’s police force could pass to Madrid.

The regional parliament could also be dissolved.

One Spanish newspaper has reported that Mr Puigdemont might nominally remain in his job but Madrid would aim to take control of many of his duties and powers.

Ultimately the process could end in regional elections but the Spanish constitution does not impose any time limit.






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