Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

Warning: count(): Parameter must be an array or an object that implements Countable in /home/tbrnew5/public_html/wp-includes/post-template.php on line 284

TBR News August 2, 2018

Aug 02 2018

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

Washington, D.C. August 1, 2018: “Iran hates the United States and Israel. Iran has atomic weapons and missiles (the Shahab, courtesy of North Korean/Russian technicians) It can easily reach Tel Aviv. It can also reach US troop concentrations in Iraq. Israel is scared shitless. Their pressure groups have leaned on the White House, with a great deal of support by American neo-cons.

The actual plan, according to rumored ONI reports, is this: The U.S. has no troops available for an Iranian adventure and the Israelis would rather not lose any of their own warm bodies so…

it has been firmly decided that both Israel and the U.S. will launch a surprise attack against

1., Iranian missile sites,

  1. Iranian nuclear facilities and
  2. the leadership of Iran located in and around Tehran.

How will this be done? By aircraft attack using U.S. developed “smart bombs” and the so-called “bunker-buster” bombs designed to destroy underground reinforced concrete facilities .We have already sent these to Israel. Because of the political ramifications, the Israelis will conduct the main strikes, supported by U.S. aircraft as needed.

The aim will be to wipe out any vestige of nuclear weaponry, its delivery system and all the Iranian leaders capable of starting any attacks on Israel (mostly Tel Aviv…too many fellow Muslims in Jerusalem.) Since it would be a problem for Israeli Air Force units to fly round trip from Israel, the solution will be to launch these attacks from U.S. aircraft carriers located in the Persian Gulf area.

Unfortunately for this thesis, the mountainous area on the Iranian side of the Persian Gulf is loaded with anti-aircraft missile sites, hidden from questing satellites, that would obliterate incoming aircraft, their crews and their armaments.

Also, when, not if, the Strait of Hormuz is blocked by Iranians, any foreign naval units in the Gulf will be trapped, unable to exit and presenting tempting targets to missile attacks.

The name of this operation is ‘Alexander’ after Alexander the Great who destroyed the Persian Empire.”

 

The Table of Contents

 

  • Iran is seen readying major exercise as tensions with U.S. simmer
  • The Iranian Death Trap
  • Russia to deploy military police on Golan Heights
  • U.S. prosecutors focus anew on Trump ex-aide Manafort’s lavish spending
  • Trump’s attacks on media may lead to real violence: U.N. expert
  • Fat Donald and the Russian Bear

 

Iran is seen readying major exercise as tensions with U.S. simmer

August 1, 2018

by Phil Stewart

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States believes Iran is preparing to carry out a major exercise in the Gulf in the coming days, apparently moving up the timing of annual drills amid heightened tensions with Washington, U.S. officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

Iran has been furious over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of an international nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran. Senior Iranian officials have warned the country would not easily yield to a renewed U.S. campaign to strangle Iran’s vital oil exports.

The U.S. military’s Central Command confirmed that it has seen an increase in Iranian activity, including in the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for oil shipments that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have threatened to block.

“We are aware of the increase in Iranian naval operations within the Arabian Gulf, Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman,” said Navy Captain Bill Urban, the chief spokesman at Central Command, which oversees U.S. forces in the Middle East.

We are monitoring it closely, and will continue to work with our partners to ensure freedom of navigation and free flow of commerce in international waterways,” Urban added.

Urban did not provide further information or comment on questions about the expected Iranian drills.

But U.S. officials, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said Iran’s Revolutionary Guards has appeared to prepare more than 100 vessels for exercises. Hundreds of ground forces could also be involved.

They said the drills could begin within the next 48 hours, although the precise timing was unclear.

Details of the Iranian preparations were first reported by CNN.

U.S. officials said the timing of the drills appeared designed to send a message to Washington, which is intensifying its economic and diplomatic pressure on Tehran but so far stopping short of using the U.S. military to more aggressively counter Iran and its proxies.

Trump’s policies are already putting significant pressure on the Iranian economy, although U.S. intelligence suggests they may ultimately rally Iranians against the United States and strengthen Iran’s hardline rulers, officials say.

Iran’s currency plumbed new depths this week as Iranians brace for Aug. 7 when Washington is due to reimpose a first lot of economic sanctions following Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal.

A number of protests have broken out in Iran since the beginning of the year over high prices, water shortage, power cuts and alleged corruption.

On Tuesday, hundreds of people rallied in cities including Isfahan, Karaj, Shiraz and Ahvaz in protest against high inflation caused in part by the weak rial.

Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by James Dalgleish

 

The Iranian Death Trap

August 2, 2018

by Christian Jürs

 

Over the past few years, the American media has been breathlessly informing the public about “probable attacks” on Iran because, it is stated, that country is developing atomic weapons to use on Israel. Of course whatever happens to Israel is of vital importance to the United States and its mostly non-Israeli citizens.

The U.S. has been placing economic sanctions on Iran and this is damaging their economy. Their response? They have threatened to close the international waterway, the Straits of Hormuz! Since almost all Iranian oil, on which they depend for a significant part of their national income, comes from selling, and shipping, oil, this is mere sound and fury, signifying nothing. This false bravado is also designed to build public morale in Iran with national elections looming.

This threat, and the subsequent threat to attack an American Navy aircraft carrier carry with them the danger that a rigged Gulf of Tonkin incident can be arraigned to supply a legitimate motive for the U.S. Navy to take “retaliatory measures” against Iran. In the mountains on Iran’s western border on the Gulf are numerous missile bases, constructed with aid of the Russians. Recently, Russia made a deal with the United States, In return for allowing Russian naval units to berth in and protect Syrian gulf ports, they gave the Americans all the coordinates of their missile sites! In the event of a “hostile act” on the part of Iran (Perhaps a small military type MTB wearing an Iranian flag, would lunch relatively small surface-to-surface at some large American ship. There would be explosions and, out of necessity, American deaths. Shocked headlines in the CIA-controlled New York Times and Washington Post and a stunned Congress would demand revenge.  Then our Naval units would attack the missile bases and turn them into large, rubble-filled holes and our next target would be far to the north in Tehran. Our military is stretched too thin to become involved in yet another political war but the Navy and Air Force have been unscathed and would do the attacking. Naturally, the Israeli units would be unable to assist this effort to save them from possible attack because they were too busy protecting the Sacred Motherland to get killed elsewhere and, even worse, to lose expensive aircraft to air defense missiles.

Their theme is to fight their many enemies via the United States and Israel would fight to the last American life.

What is causing a deliberate escalation of this project is multifaceted in nature. China does a good deal of oil business with Iran. China has reached a trade volume of 53 billion dollars with Iran and also has a treaty to manage an aslect of the South Pars oil fields. China has been threatening our allies lately, hacking into sensitive governmental computers sites and threatening us with dire fiscal problems because they own so much of our Treasury notes and intercepted messaging indicates China is trying to forge more important ties with Tehran, just short of an open military or other alliance that would upset the balance of power. Tehran and North Korea have also had other missile-oriented dealings such as, 4000 km ranged Musudan missiles which are similar to Taepodong – 1 and Taepodong – 2 missiles. Iran now has the ability to mass produce aversive balllistic missile systems with the technical aid of both North Korea, China and Russia. The North Koreans, and their Pakistani friends, are now lower down the list of supporters but China is coming to the fore   Using technical assistance as noted at this time Iran has build and can build intercontinental ballistic missiles that now have a range of more than 5500 km.

IRSL-X-2 and Shahab-6. missiles have the capacity to strike into the eastern end of the Mediterranean and shorter range missiles have been developed to attack American naval units in the Gulf area. Threat and counterthreats have driven the Iranian programs deep underground where American missile or bunker-buster bombing attacks could not destroy them and there are a number of hidden underground missile sites which have been carefully concealed from American aerial surveillance efforts and Israeli as well.  The Chinese, in furtherance of both financial gain and merely fishing in troubled waters, have supplied the Iranians with surveillance paths and times of both American and Israeli drones which they obtained by gaining clandestine admittance to secret American and Israeli military defense computer sites.

Much more serious, from Israeli’s point of view is that the Chinese have given a GPS missile control system to the Iraninans which will permit them pinpoint accuracy in directing their present long range missiles to exact targets, be they important Israeli sites like Dimona or U.S. Naval facilities in Muscat or elsewhere.

Tensions build on a daily basis but sometimes the gamblers do not realize the chances they might be taking with something erratic and uinplanned for happening and then the whole Middle East would erupt in bloody warfare. The thesis of the “Arab Spring” is sreading outside its intended and the Iranians are aware that both the American CIA and its Israeli counterpart, the Mossad, have penetrated into Iran and are not only spying but engaging in acts of murder and potential sabotage. In a society as paranoid as Iran’s it might take very little for someone to push a button and once lanuched, a missile, or flight of missiles, cannot be called.

We all know how wars start but none of know how they will end!

 

Russia to deploy military police on Golan Heights

August 2, 2018

by Denis Pinchuk and Tom Balmforth

Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia will deploy its military police on the Golan Heights frontier between Syria and Israel, its defense ministry said on Thursday, after weeks of mounting volatility in the area.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s sweeping away of rebels in southwestern Syria has worried Israel, which believes it could allow his Iranian backers to entrench their troops close to the frontier.

Underlining the tensions, Israel killed seven militants in an overnight air strike on the Syrian-held part of the Golan Heights, Israeli radio said on Thursday.

Sergei Rudskoi, a senior Russian defense ministry official, said that Russian military police had on Thursday begun patrolling in the Golan Heights and planned to set up eight observation posts in the area.

He said the Russian presence there was in support of United Nations peacekeepers on the Golan Heights who, he said, had suspended their activities in the area in 2012 because their safety was endangered.

“Today, UN peacekeepers accompanied by Russian military police conducted their first patrols in six years in the separation zone,” Rudskoi told a briefing for journalists in Moscow.

“With the aim of preventing possible provocations against UN posts along the ‘Bravo’ line, the deployment is planned of eight observation posts of Russia’s armed forces’ military police,” Rudskoi said.

He said the Russian presence there was temporary, and that the observation posts would be handed over to Syrian government forces once the situation stabilized.

The deployment of the Russian military police highlights the degree to which the Kremlin has become an influential actor in Middle East conflicts since its military intervention in Syria which turned the tide of the war in Assad’s favor.

Israel has been lobbying the Kremlin to use its influence with Assad, and with Tehran, to try to get the Iranian military presence in Syria scaled back.

Israel sees Iran, and Iran’s allies in the Hezbollah Shi’ite military, as a direct threat to its national security.

That message was conveyed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Russian President Vladimir Putin when they met in Moscow last month, a senior Israeli official said.

Iranian forces have withdrawn their heavy weapons in Syria to a distance of 85 km (53 miles) from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, TASS quoted a Russian envoy as saying on Wednesday, but Israel deemed the pullback inadequate.

Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Christian Lowe, Richard Balmforth

 

U.S. prosecutors focus anew on Trump ex-aide Manafort’s lavish spending

August 2, 2018

by Nathan Layne and Sarah N. Lynch

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Reuters) – Prosecutors in the trial of U.S. President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort hammered away on Thursday at his lavish spending as they sought to prove fraud charges, while they also confirmed plans to call a key witness to testify.

The prosecution has spent the first 2-1/2 days of the trial attempting to portray Manafort as a tax cheat and a liar who hid much of the $60 million he earned from political work for pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine by stashing it in undisclosed overseas accounts.

A day after the prosecution raised the possibility that Manafort’s former business partner Rick Gates – expected to be a star government witness – would not be called to testify, Greg Andres, a member of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, made clear on Thursday that he would.

“We have every intention of calling him as a witness,” Andres said in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, outside Washington.

Gates pleaded guilty to making false statements after being indicted by Mueller. Defense lawyers have painted Gates as an untrustworthy business partner who embezzled funds from Manafort’s consulting firm.

Manafort’s trial is the first stemming from Mueller’s 14-month investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow, though none of the charges against Manafort involve this issue.

Manafort, 69, is charged with tax fraud, bank fraud and failing to report foreign bank accounts. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Manafort routed millions of dollars to the United States by putting it in real estate, and spending it on expensive suits, cars and home renovations, according to prosecution witnesses.

Prosecutors said Manafort evaded taxes through this scheme. Five of the 18 counts he faces relate to filing false tax returns. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

On Thursday, the jury heard from Joel Maxwell of a Florida-based company that installs lighting, audio visual equipment and automation systems for homes that did work for Manafort. Maxwell testified that some of the Manafort invoices shown to him from prosecutors appeared to be have been forged.

Michael Regolizio, of a landscaping firm in the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island, also testified that a Manafort invoice was phony, listing an incorrect address and an altered version of his company’s name. Regolizio said he was paid about $450,000 between 2010 and 2014 for work for Manafort, and that the money was paid via a money transfer from Cyprus.

“We have every intention of calling him as a witness,” Andres said in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, outside Washington.

Gates pleaded guilty to making false statements after being indicted by Mueller. Defense lawyers have painted Gates as an untrustworthy business partner who embezzled funds from Manafort’s consulting firm.

Manafort’s trial is the first stemming from Mueller’s 14-month investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow, though none of the charges against Manafort involve this issue.

Manafort, 69, is charged with tax fraud, bank fraud and failing to report foreign bank accounts. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Manafort routed millions of dollars to the United States by putting it in real estate, and spending it on expensive suits, cars and home renovations, according to prosecution witnesses.

Prosecutors said Manafort evaded taxes through this scheme. Five of the 18 counts he faces relate to filing false tax returns. Manafort has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

On Thursday, the jury heard from Joel Maxwell of a Florida-based company that installs lighting, audio visual equipment and automation systems for homes that did work for Manafort. Maxwell testified that some of the Manafort invoices shown to him from prosecutors appeared to be have been forged.

Michael Regolizio, of a landscaping firm in the Hamptons on New York’s Long Island, also testified that a Manafort invoice was phony, listing an incorrect address and an altered version of his company’s name. Regolizio said he was paid about $450,000 between 2010 and 2014 for work for Manafort, and that the money was paid via a money transfer from Cyprus.

Two witnesses – an executive at an upscale clothier and a retired general contractor – testified on Wednesday that invoices purporting to be bills from their companies to a company tied to Manafort appeared to be fake.

It was unclear who created the invoices or how they were used.

RESENTMENT AGAINST RICH PEOPLE’

As he did on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis warned prosecutors against focusing too much on Manafort’s lifestyle.

“It kind of engenders some resentment against rich people,” Ellis said, expressing concern about displaying photos exhibiting Manafort’s wealth.

Later on Thursday, prosecutors are expected to call to the witness stand accountants and a series of tax preparers in an effort to convince the jury Manafort cheated on his taxes and failed to report foreign bank accounts.

Heather Washkuhn, managing director of the accounting firm Nigro Karlin Segal Feldstein & Bolno, will be one of the witnesses to be called on Thursday, Andres said.

In a court filing on Thursday, Mueller’s team asked for an opportunity to further explain why Manafort’s spending was directly relevant to the charges and would not unfairly prejudice the jurors.

In a separate motion, prosecutors also asked the judge to prevent Manafort from raising the issue of an Internal Revenue Service audit, saying any potential civil action was irrelevant to the criminal charges and could confuse or mislead the jury

As part of his guilty plea, Gates acknowledged routinely dealing with accountants in the preparation of Manafort’s tax returns and misleading them with false information, although he said he did so with Manafort’s knowledge.

“It is critical for the government to show that the returns were prepared based on information of which Manafort was personally aware,” said David Axelrod, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner at Ohio-based law firm Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick and is unaffiliated with the trial.

“The government must prove that Manafort was complicit in whatever Gates said or did,” Axelrod said.

Mueller has indicted or secured guilty pleas from 32 people and three companies. Trump has called Mueller’s investigation a witch hunt and on Tuesday called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to end it.

Reporting by Nathan Layne in Alexandria, Virginia; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey and Karen Freifeld; Writing by Warren Strobel; Editing by Will Dunham

 

Trump’s attacks on media may lead to real violence: U.N. expert

August 2, 218

Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media violate the basic norms of press freedom and run the risk of triggering real violence against journalists, the U.N. rapporteur for freedom of expression said on Thursday.

“These attacks run counter to the country’s obligations to respect press freedom and international human rights law,” David Kaye said in a joint statement with Edison Lanza, who holds the same post with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

“We are especially concerned that these attacks increase the risk of journalists being targeted with violence,” they said.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Mark Heinrich

 

 

The Entropy Wars

Five Financial Uncertainties of 2018 (So Far)

by Nomi Prins

TomDispatch

Here we are in the middle of the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency and if there’s one thing we know by now, it’s that the leader of the free world can create an instant reality-TV show on geopolitical steroids at will. True, he’s not polished in his demeanor, but he has an unerring way of instilling the most uncertainty in any situation in the least amount of time.

Whether through executive orders, tweets, cable-news interviews, or rallies, he regularly leaves diplomacy in the dust, while allegedly delivering for a faithful base of supporters who voted for him as the ultimate anti-diplomat. And while he’s at it, he continues to take a wrecking ball to the countless political institutions that litter the Acela Corridor. Amid all the tweeted sound and fury, however, the rest of us are going to have to face the consequences of Donald Trump getting his hands on the economy.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, entropy is “a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder.” With that in mind, perhaps the best way to predict President Trump’s next action is just to focus on the path of greatest entropy and take it from there.

Let me do just that, while exploring five key economic sallies of the Trump White House since he took office and the bleakness and chaos that may lie ahead as the damage to the economy and our financial future comes into greater focus.

  1. Continuous Banking Deregulation

When Trump ran for the presidency, he tapped into a phenomenon that was widely felt but generally misunderstood: a widespread anger at Wall Street and corporate cronyism. Upon taking office, he promptly redirected that anger exclusively at the country’s borders and its global economic allies and adversaries.

His 2016 election campaign had promised not to “let Wall Street get away with murder” and to return the banking environment to one involving less financial risk to the country. His goal and that of the Republicans as a party, at least theoretically, was to separate bank commercial operations (deposits and lending) from their investment operations (securities creation, trading, and brokerage) by bringing back a modernized version of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.

Fast forward to May 18, 2017 when Trump’s deregulatory-minded treasury secretary, “foreclosure king” Steven Mnuchin, faced a congressional panel and took a 180 on the subject. He insisted that separating people’s everyday deposits from the financial-speculation operations of the big banks, something that had even made its way into the Republican platform, was a total nonstarter.

Instead, congressional Republicans, with White House backing, promptly took aim at the watered-down version of the Glass-Steagall Act passed in the Obama years, the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010. In it, the Democrats had already essentially capitulated to Wall Street by riddling the act with a series of bank-friendly loopholes. They had, however, at least ensured that banks would set aside more of their own money in the event of another Great Recession-like crisis and provide a strategy or “living will” in advance for that possibility, while creating a potent consumer-protection apparatus, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Say goodbye to all of that in the Trump era.

Dubbed “the Choice Act” — officially the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act — the new Republican bill removed the “living will” requirement for mid-sized banks, thereby allowing the big banks a gateway to do the same. When Trump signed the bill, he said that it was “the next step in America’s unprecedented economic comeback. There’s never been a comeback like we’ve made. And one day, the fake news is going to report it.”

In fact, thanks to the Trump (and Republican) flip-flop, banks don’t need to defend themselves anymore. The president went on to extol the untold virtues of his pick to run the CFPB, meant to keep consumers from being duped (or worse) by their own banks. Before Trump got involved, it had won $12 billion in settlements from errant banks for the citizens it championed.

However, Kathy Kraninger, a former Homeland Security official tapped by Trump to run the entity, has no experience in banking or consumer protection. His selection follows perfectly in the path of current interim head Mick Mulvaney (also the head of the Office of Management and Budget). All you need to know about him is that he once derided the organization as a “sick, sad” joke. As its director, he’s tried to choke the life out of it by defunding it.

In this fashion, such still-evolving deregulatory actions reflect the way Trump’s anti-establishment election campaign has turned into a full-scale program aimed at increasing the wealth and power of the financial elites, while decreasing their responsibility to us. Don’t expect a financial future along such lines to look pretty. Think entropy.

  1. Tensions Rise in the Auto Wars

Key to Trump’s economic vision is giving his base a sense of camaraderie by offering them rallying cries from a bygone era of nationalism and isolationism. In the same spirit, the president has launched a supposedly base-supporting policy of imposing increasingly random and anxiety-provoking trade tariffs.

Take, for instance, the automotive sector, which such tariffs are guaranteed to negatively impact. It is ground zero for many of his working-class voters and a key focus of the president’s entropic economic policies. When he was campaigning, he promised many benefits to auto workers (and former auto workers) and they proved instrumental in carrying him to victory in previously “blue” rust-belt states. In the Oval Office, he then went on to tout what he deemed personal victories in getting Ford to move a plant back to the U.S. from Mexico while pressuring Japanese companies to make more cars in Michigan.

He also began disrupting the industry with a series of on-again-off-again, imposed or sometimes merely threatened tariffs, including on steel, that went against the wishes of the entire auto sector. Recently, Jennifer Thomas of the industry’s main lobbying group, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, assured a Commerce Department hearing that “the opposition is widespread and deep because the consequences are alarming.”

Indeed, the Center for Automotive Research has reported that a 25% tariff on autos and auto parts (something the president has threatened but not yet followed through upon against the European Union, Canada, and Mexico) could reduce the number of domestic vehicle sales by up to two million units and might wipe out more than 714,000 jobs here. Declining demand for cars, whose prices could rise between $455 and $6,875, depending on the type of tariff, in the face of a Trump vehicle tax, would hurt American and foreign manufacturers operating in the U.S. who employ significant numbers of American workers.

Though President Trump’s threat to slap high tariffs on imported autos and auto parts from the European Union is now in limbo due to a recent announcement of ongoing negotiations, he retains the right if he gets annoyed by… well, anything… to do so. The German auto industry alone employs more than 118,000 people in the U.S. and, if invoked, such taxes would increase its car prices and put domestic jobs instantly at risk.

  1. The Populist Tyranny of the Trump Tax Cuts

President Trump has been particularly happy about his marquee corporate tax “reform” bill, assuring his base that it will provide jobs and growth to American workers, while putting lots of money in their pockets. What it’s actually done, however, is cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, providing corporations with tons of extra cash. Their predictable reaction has not been to create jobs and raise wages, but to divert that bonanza to their own coffers via share buybacks in which they purchase their own stock. That provides shareholders with bigger, more valuable pieces of a company, while boosting earnings and CEO bonuses.

Awash in tax-cut cash, American companies have announced a record $436.6 billion worth of such buybacks so far in 2018, close to double the record $242.1 billion spent in that way in all of 2017. Among other things, this ensures less tax revenue to the U.S. Treasury, which in turn means less money for social programs or simply for providing veterans with proper care.

As it is, large American companies only pay an average effective tax rate of 18% (a figure that will undoubtedly soon drop further). Last year, they only contributed 9% of the tax receipts of the government and that’s likely to drop further to a record low this year, sending the deficit soaring. In other words, in true Trumpian spirit, corporations will be dumping the fabulous tax breaks they got directly onto the backs of other Americans, including the president’s base.

Meanwhile, some of the crew who authored such tax-policies, creating a $1.5 trillion corporate tax give-away, have already moved on to bigger and better things, landing lobbying positions at the very corporations they lent such a hand to and which can now pay them even more handsomely. For the average American worker, on the other hand, wages have not increased. Indeed, between the first and second quarters of 2018 real wages dropped by 1.8% after the tax cuts were made into law. Trump hasn’t touted that or what it implies about our entropic future.

  1. Trade Wars, Currency Wars, and the Conflicts to Come

If everyone takes their toys to another playground, the school bully has fewer kids to rough up. And that’s exactly the process Trump’s incipient trade wars seem to be accelerating — the hunt for new playgrounds and alliances by a range of major countries that no longer trust the U.S. government to behave in a consistent manner.

So far, the U.S. has already slapped $34 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese imports. China has retaliated in kind. Playing a dangerous global poker game, Trump promptly threatened to raise that figure to at least $200 billion. China officially ignored that threat, only inciting the president’s ire further. In response, he recently announced that he was “willing to slap tariffs on every Chinese good imported to the U.S. should the need arise.” Speaking to CNBC’s Squawk Box host Joe Kernen on July 20th, he boasted, “I’m ready to go to 500 [billion dollars].”

That’s the equivalent of nearly every import the Chinese sent into the U.S. last year. In contrast, the U.S. exports only $129.9 billion in products to China, which means the Chinese can’t respond in kind, but they can target new markets, heighten the increasingly tense relations between the world’s two economic superpowers, and even devalue their currency to leverage their products more effectively on global markets.

Global trade alliances were already moving away from a full-scale reliance on the U.S. even before Donald Trump began his game of tariffs. That trend has only gained traction in the wake of his economic actions, including his tariffs on a swath of Mexican, Canadian, and European imports. Recently, two major American allies turned a slow dance toward economic cooperation into a full-scale embrace. On July 17th, the European Union and Japan agreed on a mega-trade agreement that will cover one-third of the products made by the world economy.

Meanwhile, China has launched more than 100 new business projects in Brazil alone, usurping what was once a U.S. market, investing a record $54 billion in that country. It is also preparing to increase its commitments not just to Brazil, but to Russia, India, China, and South Africa (known collectively as the BRICS countries), investing $14.7 billion in South Africa ahead of an upcoming BRICS summit there. In other words, Donald Trump is lending a disruptively useful hand to the creation of an economic world in which the U.S. will no longer be as central an entity.

Ultimately, tariffs and the protectionist policies that accompany them will hurt consumers and workers alike, increasing prices and reducing demand. They could force companies to cut back on hiring, innovation, and expansion, while also hurting allies and potentially impeding economic growth globally. In other words, they represent an American version of an economic winding down, both domestically and internationally.

  1. Fighting the Fed

President Trump’s belligerence has centered around his belief that the wealthiest, most powerful nation on the planet has been victimized by the rest of the world. Now, that feeling has been extended to the Federal Reserve where he recently lashed out against its chairman (and his own appointee) Jerome Powell.

The Fed had been providing trillions of dollars of stimulus to the banking system and financial markets though a bond-buying program wonkily called “quantitative easing” or “QE.” Its claim: that this Wall Street subsidy is really a stimulus for Main Street.

Unlikely as that story may prove to be, presidents have normally refrained from publicly commenting on the Federal Reserve’s policies, allowing it to maintain at least a veneer of independence, as mandated by the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. (In reality, the Fed has remained significantly dependent on the whims and desires of the White House, a story revealed in my new book Collusion.) However, this White House is run by a president who couldn’t possibly keep his opinions to himself.

So far, the Fed has raised (or “tightened”) interest rates seven times since December 2015. Under Powell, it has done so twice, with two more hikes forecast by year’s end. These moves were made without Trump’s blessing and he views them as contrary to his administration’s economic objectives. In an interview with CNBC, he proclaimed that he was “not thrilled” with the rate hikes, a clear attempt to directly influence Fed policy. Sticking with tradition, the Fed offered no reaction, while the White House quickly issued a statement emphasizing that the president “did not mean to influence the Fed’s decision-making process.”

Ignoring that official White House position, the president promptly took to Twitter to express his frustrations with the Fed. (“[T]he United States should not be penalized because we are doing so well. Tightening now hurts all that we have done. The U.S. should be allowed to recapture what was lost due to illegal currency manipulation and BAD Trade Deals. Debt coming due & we are raising rates — Really?”)

Fed Chairman Powell may want to highlight his independence from the White House, but as a Trump appointee, any decisions made in the framework of the president’s reactions could reflect political influence in the making. The bigger problem is that such friction could incite greater economic uncertainty, which could prove detrimental to the economic strength Trump says he wants to maintain.

When Entropy Wins, the World Loses

Trump’s method works like a well-oiled machine. It keeps everyone — his cabinet, the media, global leaders, and politicians and experts of every sort — off guard. It ensures that his actions will have instant impact, no matter how negative.

Economically, the repercussions of this strategy are both highly global and extremely local. As Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) noted recently, “This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and [the] White House’s ‘plan’ is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches… This administration’s tariffs and bailouts aren’t going to make America great again, they’re just going to make it 1929 again.”

He was referring to the White House’s latest plan to put up to $12 billion taxpayer dollars into those sectors of American agriculture hit hardest by Trump’s tariff wars. Let that sink in for a moment and think: entropy. In order to fix the problems the president has created, allegedly to help America become great again, a deficit-ridden government will have to shell out extra taxpayer dollars.

Subsidizing farmers isn’t in itself necessarily a bad thing. It is, in fact, very New Deal-ish and Franklin Delano Roosevelt-esque. But doing so to fix an unnecessary problem? Under such circumstances, where will it stop? When those $200 billion or $500 billion in tariffs on China (or other countries) enflames the situation further, who gets aid next? Auto workers? Steel workers?

What we are witnessing is the start of the entropy wars, which will, in turn, hasten the unwinding of the American global experiment. Each arbitrary bit of presidential pique, each tweet and insult, is a predecessor to yet more possible economic upheavals and displacements, ever messier and harder to clean up. Trump’s America could easily morph into a worldwide catch-22. The more trust is destabilized, the greater the economic distress. The weaker the economy, the more disruptable it becomes by the Great Disrupter himself. And so the Trump spiral spins onward, circling down an economic drain of his own making.

 

Fat Donald and the Russian Bear

August 2, 2018

by Christian Jürs

The KGB had opened a file on Donald Trump in 1977, the year when Mr.Trump married Ivana Zelníčková, then a twenty-eight-year-old model from Czechoslovakia. Zelníčková was a citizen of a communist country. She was therefore of interest both to the Czech intelligence service, the StB, and to the FBI and CIA.

Zelníčková was born in Zlin, a town in Moravia. In the early 1970s she moved to Canada, first to Toronto and then to Montreal, to be with a ski instructor boyfriend. Exiting Czechoslovakia during this period was, the files said, “incredibly difficult.” Zelníčková moved to New York. In April 1977 she married Mr.Trump. Ivana became a naturalized United States citizen in 1988. The couple divorced in 1992

According to intelligence files, both in Moscow and in Prague, Czech intelligence agents kept the Trumps under close surveillance in Manhattan. The agents who undertook this task were code-named Al Jarza and Lubos. They opened letters sent home by Ivana to her father, Milos, an engineer. Milos Zelníčková had a functional relationship with the Czech secret police, who would ask him how his daughter was doing abroad and in return permit her visits home. There was continuing surveillance of the Trump family in the United States. At her request, and by her father’s insistence, Ivana and Donald Trump, Jr., visited Milos in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic,

As was the custom, the Czechs shared their intelligence product with their counterparts in Moscow, the KGB. Mr.Trump was of interest to Soviet intelligence for several reasons. In the first instance his wife came from a country under Soviet control and secondly during the perestroika period Trump was considered to be a good potential source as he was known to be a prominent real estate leader.  In the Czech intelligence files, communications from Ivana to her father mentioned her husband’s growing interest in politics. It was at this point that it appeared that Mr.Trump might embark on a political career and, if successful, be a first class intelligence asset.

Therefore, Mr. Trump was in an active file of the KGB and regarded as a highly potential agent/informant and, possibly to become a full KGB agent.

Through the offices of his wife, Mr.Trump was encouraged to consider the Soviets as a good business connection. The relationship would be known as an important “confidential contact.” doveritelnaya svyaz. доверительные отношения  (Trust relationship)

Trump biography

Donald John Trump (June 14, 1946)

He is of German/Scottish origin. One of his German relatives was an Arnold Trumpf, b, 27 October 1892 in Gifhorn and died 7, January 1985 in Garmish-Partenkirchen. Trumpf was a member of the Nazi party number 389 920 from 1 December 1930. He was a member of the SS Race and Settlement Office as an SS-Oberführer

Trump was born and grew up in New York City. He received a degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Trump took over running his family’s real estate business in 1971, renamed it The Trump Organization, and expanded it to involve constructing and renovating skyscrapers, hotels, casinos, and golf courses. He also started various side ventures, including branding and licensing his name for real estate and luxury consumer products.

He managed the company until his 2017 inauguration as President of the United States.

Trump also gained prominence in the media and entertainment fields. He co-authored several books, and from 2003 to 2015 he was a producer and the host of The Apprentice, a reality television game show.

Trump owned the Miss Universe and Miss USA beauty pageants from 1996 to 2015. According to the American financial Forbes magazine, he was the world’s 544th richest person as of May 2017, with an estimated net worth of $3.5 billion.

In 1977, Trump married his first wife, Czech model Ivana Zelníčková. They had three children: Donald Jr. (b. 1977), Ivanka (b. 1981), and Eric (b. 1984). Ivana became a naturalized United States citizen in 1988. The couple divorced in 1992, following Trump’s affair with actress Marla Maples.

In October 1993, Maples gave birth to Trump’s daughter, who was named Tiffany after the upper-class Tiffany & Company. Maples and Trump were married two months later in December 1993. They divorced in 1999, and Tiffany was raised by Marla in California.

In 2005, Trump married his third wife, Slovenian model Melania Knauss, at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach, Florida. Her original name was Melanija Knavs, born on April 26, 1970 at Novo Mesto, SR Slovenia, SFR Yugoslavia

In 2006, Melania became a United States citizen and gave birth to a son, March 20, 2006, Barron William Trump. Melania and Barron moved to the White House on June 11, 2017,

Trump has never filed for personal bankruptcy, but his hotel and casino businesses were declared bankrupt six times between 1991 and 2009 in order to re-negotiate debt with banks and owners of stock and bonds. Because the businesses used Chapter 11 bankruptcy, they were allowed to operate while negotiations proceeded.

Mr. Trump was quoted by Newsweek magazine in 2011 saying, “I do play with the bankruptcy laws – they’re very good for me” as a tool for trimming debt.

The six bankruptcies were the result of over-leveraged hotel and casino businesses in Atlantic City and New York: Trump Taj Mahal (1991), Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino (1992), Plaza Hotel (1992), Trump Castle Hotel and Casino (1992), Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts (2004), and Trump Entertainment Resorts (2009).

As president, Trump has frequently made false statements in public speeches and remarks. Trump uttered “at least one false or misleading claim per day on 91 of his first 99 days” in office according to The New York Times, and 1,318 total in his first 263 days in office. The Washington Post, also wrote, “President Trump is the most fact-challenged politician that The Fact Checker has ever encountered… the pace and volume of the president’s misstatements means that we cannot possibly keep up.”

Mr. Trump has a history of making racially-charged statements and taking actions perceived as racially motivated.

In 1975, Mr. Trump settled a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1973 alleging housing discrimination against black renters. In 1989, he was accused of racism for insisting that a group of black and Latino teenagers were guilty of raping a white woman in the Central Park jogger case even after they were exonerated by DNA evidence.

He continued to maintain this position as late as 2016.

Mr.Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign with a speech in which he described Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists.

One of Mr.Trump’s campaign managers, Paul Manafort, had worked for several years to help pro-Russian politician Viktor Yanukovich win the Ukrainian presidency.

Other Trump associates, including former National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn and political consultant Roger Stone, have been connected to Russian officials. Russian agents were overheard during the campaign saying they could use Manafort and Flynn to influence Trump.

Members of Mr.Trump’s campaign and later his White House staff, particularly Flynn, were in contact with Russian officials both before and after the November election In a December 29, 2016 conversation, Flynn and Kislyak discussed the recently imposed sanctions against Russia; Mr.Trump later fired Flynn for falsely claiming he had not discussed the sanctions.

Donald Trump has pursued business deals in Russia since 1987, and has sometimes traveled there to explore potential business opportunities. In 1996, Trump trademark applications were submitted for potential Russian real estate development deals. Mr.Trump’s partners and children have repeatedly visited Moscow, connecting with developers and government officials to explore joint venture opportunities. Mr.Trump was never able to successfully conclude any real estate deals in Russia. However, individual Russians have invested heavily in Trump properties, and following Mr.Trump’s bankruptcies in the 1990s he borrowed money from Russian sources. In 2008 his son Donald Trump Jr. said that Russia was an important source of money for the Trump businesses.

In 1996 Mr.Trump partnered with Liggett-Ducat, a small company, and planned to build an upscale residential development on a Liggett-Ducat property in Moscow. Trump commissioned New York architect Ted Liebman, who did the sketches.

In 1987 Mr.Trump visited Russia to investigate developing a hotel

In Russia, Mr.Trump promoted the proposal and acclaimed the Russian economic market. At a news conference reported by The Moscow Times, Mr.Trump said he hadn’t been “as impressed with the potential of a city as I have been with Moscow” in contrast to other cities had visited “all over the world.

By this time, Mr.Trump made known his desire to build in Moscow to government officials for almost ten years ranging from the Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev (they first met in Washington in 1987) to the military figure Alexander Lebed.

Moscow’s mayor, Yuri M. Luzhkov, showed Trump plans for a very large shopping mall to be located underground in the vicinity of the Kremlin. The mayor complimented Mr.Trump’s suggestion that this mall should have access to the Moscow Metro, and it was eventually connected to the Okhotny Ryad station. Although the 1996 residential development did not happen, Mr.Trump was by this time well known in Russia.

Between 2000–2010, Mr.Trump entered into a partnership with a development company headquartered in New York represented by a Russian immigrant, Felix Sater. During this period, they partnered for an assortment of deals that included building Trump towers internationally and Russia was included. For example, in 2005 Slater acted as an agent for building a Trump tower alongside Moscow River with letters of intent in hand and “square footage was being analyzed.”

In 2006, Mr.Trump’s children Donald Jr. and Ivanka stayed in the Hotel National, Moscow for several days, across from the Kremlin, to interview prospective partners, with the intention of formulating real estate development projects.

Sater had also traveled to Moscow with Mr. Trump, his wife Ivanka and son Donald Jr.

Mr. Trump was associated with Tevfik Arif, formerly a Soviet commerce official and founder of a development company called the Bayrock Group, of which Sater was also a partner.

Bayrock searched for deals in Russia while Trump Towers company were attempting to further expand in the United States. Mr. Sater said, “We looked at some very, very large properties in Russia,” on the scale of “…a large Vegas high-rise.”

In 2007, Bayrock organized a potential deal in Moscow between Trump International Hotel and Russian investors

During 2006–2008 Mr.Trump’s company applied for a number of trademarks in Russia with the goal of real estate developments. These trademark applications include: Trump, Trump Tower, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and Trump Home.

In 2008, Mr. Trump spoke at a Manhattan real estate conference, stating that he he really preferred Moscow over all cities in the world and that within 18 months he had been in Russia a half-dozen times.

Mr.Trump had received large and undisclosed payments over 10 years from Russians for hotel rooms, rounds of golf, or Trump-licensed products such as wine, ties, or mattresses, which would not have been identified as coming from Russian sources in the tax returns

A secret KGB memo under date of February 1, 1984 concerned the necessity of making an expanded use of the facilities of cooperating foreign intelligence services—for example, Czechoslovakian or East German intelligence networks.

The most revealing section concerned kompromat.

The document specifically requested any compromising information about Donald Trump, including illegal acts in financial and commercial affairs, intrigues, speculation, bribes, graft … and exploitation of his position to enrich himself. Plus any other information that would compromise the subject (Trump) to his country’s authorities and the general public. Naturally the information could be used to cause him serious problems in his country if exposed.

Finally, the report mentioned that his attitude towards women was also of interest. The point of interest would be if he was the habit of having affairs with women.

Mr. Trumps’ first trip to Moscow came after he found himself seated next to the Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin in 1986. His original position was Soviet ambassador to the U.N. Dubinin’s mission as ambassador was to make contact with America’s business elite.

There was a luncheon held by Leonard Lauder, the son of Estée Lauder. Mr. Trump was invited to meet the Ambassador. Ambassador Dubinin spoke fluent English and during the course of the luncheon Trump spoke at length with the Ambassador who proposed that Trump build a large luxury hotel, directly across from the Kremlin, in association with the Soviet government.

Mr.Trump at once became interested in the project and expressed his willingness to cooperate on such a project.

By January 1987, Mr.Trump had become a “prominent person” status and therefore Ambassador Dubinin deemed Mr.Trump interesting enough to arrange his trip to Moscow. U.S.-based Soviet diplomat, Vitaly Churkin—the future U.N. ambassador—was of assistance in this project.

Mr. Trump first visited the Soviet Union on July 4, 1987.

Mr. Trump flew to Moscow for the first time, together with his wife Ivana and Lisa Calandra, Ivana’s Italian-American assistant. Ambassador Dubinin’s invitation to Trump to visit Moscow was a standard operation exercise by the KGB.

The Trump trip was orchestrated by the Intourist Agency which was under the control of the KGB. Its duty was to investigate and monitor all foreigners coming into the Soviet Union.

The Trumps were treated with great courtesy by Soviet officials and they were housed in Lenin’s suite at the National Hotel, at the bottom of Tverskaya Street, near Red Square.

The hotel was connected to the Intourist complex next door and was under KGB control.

The Lenin suite had been fixed for electronic surveillance.

In November of 2013, the Miss Universe pageant was held in Moscow

It was there that  Mr. Trump — then the pageant’s owner — spent several days socializing with Russia’s business and political elite and becoming acquainted with a wealthy developer whose connections his son would later seek to capitalize on. The developer, Aras Agalarov, offered to pass on information about potential rival Mrs. Clinton from Russia’s top prosecutor to help a projected Trump presidential campaign.

The contest was held at Crocus City Hall, a venue owned by Agalarov. The event would be a family affair: Agalarov’s son, a pop singer named Emin, performed on stage and his wife was a judge.

Mr.Trump remained on good and productive terms with the Agalarov family, at one point, appearing in a music video with Emin and sending him a videotaped greeting on his 35th birthday.

During his trip to Moscow on November 9-11, 2013 for the Miss Universe pageant, Mr.Trump surrounded himself with business people and those necessary to sign a deal which would bring a Trump Tower project to Moscow. These were: Aras Agalarov, Emin Agalarov,Yulya (Yulia) Alferova,Herman Gref, Artem Klyushin, Vladimir Kozhin, Chuck LaBella, Rotem Rosen, Phil Ruffin, Alex Sapir, Keith Schiller, Roustam Tariko and Bob Van Ronkel.

At first, President Putin, who had planned on meeting Mr.Trump at the pageant, sent numerous individuals tied to the Russian construction sector to the event to discuss potential lucrative building plans and to ascertain Mr. Trump’s attitudes.

President Putin to establish a distance, stated he was unable to attend the pageant because of a last-minute visit from the King of the Netherlands.

Previous to this meeting, there had been no positive positions on the possibility that Mr. Trump, with Russian assistance and financing, might construct a luxury hotel in Moscow. Trump made several tweets thanking individuals in Moscow and bragging about his future plans. Then on November 12th, 2013 Trump posted a link to the Moscow Times, remarking that his organization was working on building a luxury hotel in Moscow “@AgalarovAras I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a FANTASTIC job. TRUMP TOWER-MOSCOW is next. EMIN was WOW!”

This hotel deal was finalized during Trump’s weekend stay in Moscow for his Miss Universe pageant. At the Four Seasons Hotel at Ulitsa Okhotnyy Ryad, 2, a private meeting was held between Mr. Trump and President Putin. As the President is fluent in English, no other person was present. President Putin praised the business abilities of Mr. Trump and said that he would be a “refreshing person” as President of the United States. President Putin said that his people would be pleased to support Mr. Trump and that if this support was deemed material in achieving a victory, President Putin had one request to make of Mr. Trump. President Putin said his best wish was to establish “friendly and cooperative attitudes” by both parties, firmer business contacts and an abandonment of the policy of threats to the Russian Republic. President Putin stressed that certain very right-wing groups in America had been constantly agitating against him and against the Russian Republic and he hoped that Mr. Trump, if elected, could ignore these few people and work with, not against the Russian Republic. Mr. Trump repeatedly assured the President that he would be most eager to do just that and he agreed to work with various people in the United States who were friendly towards, and had connections with, the Russian Republic.

This most important conversation was recorded as a form of kompromat. And it is certain that a direct quid pro quo took place in November of 2013 between President Putin and Mr. Trump.

On June 16, 2015, Mr. Trump announced his candidacy for President

The methodology of Russian assistance:

The SVR has often sent intelligence officers to branches of the New York Public Library, and other public libraries, where they obtained access to the Internet, via library computers, without revealing their identity.

They placed propaganda and disinformation to educational web sites and sent e-mails to US media. It is a fact that the alternate internet site, WikiLeaks, is entirely controlled, out of Sweden, by the SVR and that they use this front to release genuine information to address issues they consider important to influence.

The articles or studies were generated by Russian experts who worked for the SVR. The purpose of these active measures was to whitewash Russian foreign policy, to create good image of Russia, to promote Anti-American feelings and “to cause dissension and unrest inside the US.

The materials used to support the candidacy of Mr. Trump were a series of emails from, and to, the Democratic National Committee which were perfectly genuine but selected to bring discredit on the campaign of Ms. Clinton. This material was part of a trove of such material obtained by an American domestic intelligence agent and sold to Russian interests.

In June of 2016, Mr. Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his presidential chairman Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer when they were told the Russian intelligence had acquired highly damaging information concerning Mrs. Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party candidate.

Russian property developer, Aras Agalarov had arragned this meeting. Subsequently the information gleaned from this meeting was given to Aras Agalarov from Russian prosecutor-general Yuri Chaika.

Because the Trumps, both father and son, were not discreet, the American Central Intelligence Agency, who were subjecting both Trumps to surveillance, learned of some of the contacts with Russian government personnel and one of their internal memos spoke very disparagingly of these contacts.

 

 

No responses yet

Leave a Reply