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TBR News December 18, 2017

Dec 18 2017

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C., December 18, 2017: “It is more entertainment watching a huge flock of bleating sheep eagerly investing every penny into Bitcoins in a reprise of the dotcom and South Sea bubbles of years gone by. That Bitcoin will collapse is without question and anyone with the slightest experience of economics or the stock markets is fully aware of this but the sheep continue to bleat…and invest. Soon, we will see InfoWars selling suicide pills instead of Slo-Cum Crème.”

 

Table of Contents

  • JPost Poll: Skyrocketing support for Trump among Israelis:Trump’s historic first day in Israel
  • Family Connections of a True Friend of Israel
  • The President Plays with Matches
  • US to support new Temple Rebuilding
  • U.S. vetoes U.N. call for withdrawal of Trump Jerusalem decision
  • Surge in 2017 of anti-Semitism reported in new study
  • The Strzok Texts: FBI Plotted to Unseat Trump Before Election
  • Trump-Russia inquiry: Why attacks on Robert Mueller are mounting
  • Bitcoin Bubble Signs Are Everywhere
  • Will the bitcoin bubble burst?

 

JPost Poll: Skyrocketing support for Trump among Israelis

Trump’s historic first day in Israel 

Israeli right hails ‘historic’ trump decision, left predicts regional chaos 

December 14, 2017

by Gil Hoffman

Jerusalem Post

At a time when President Donald Trump’s popularity has fallen in his own country, his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and start the process of moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv has significantly increased his support among Israelis, according to a Smith Research poll taken on Wednesday for The Jerusalem Post.

When 500 adults representing a statistical sample of the adult Israeli population were asked whether the Trump administration is more pro-Israel, more pro-Palestinian, or neutral, 76% of the respondents said it is more pro-Israel, 2% said more pro-Palestinian, 14% said neutral, and 8% said they had no opinion or did not know.

Split on impact of Jerusalem announcement on peace.

Among Jewish respondents, 77% said the Trump administration is more pro-Israel, 1% said more pro-Palestinian, 15% said neutral, and 7% said they had no opinion or did not know. Among Arab citizens, 69% said the administration is more pro-Israel.

By contrast, the Smith Research poll taken closest to this point in the presidency of Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, found that only 4% of Jewish Israelis considered his administration more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian. That poll was taken after Obama, in a speech in Cairo, compared Palestinian suffering to the Holocaust, came to the Middle East without visiting Israel and sparred in the White House with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran.

The poll taken on Wednesday was the fourth conducted by Smith Research about how Israelis view the Trump administration since he was sworn in as president last January. Due to his campaign promises, Jewish Israelis received him warmly, with 79% saying in January that they expected his administration to be more pro-Israel.

Polls taken before and after Trump’s May visit to Israel, in which he became the first sitting US president to visit the Western Wall, found that support for him had dropped significantly since his inauguration. But it started rising after the visit, which was seen by Israelis as warm

The proportion of Israeli Jews calling Trump’s administration more pro-Israel rose from 56% on May 17, just before his visit, to 61% on June 6 after he left.

All of the polls are of 500 adults representing a statistical sample of the adult Israeli population, with a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

In the current poll, the proportion of those saying the US administration is more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian is higher among men than women and higher among the religious than the secular. But there was no significant difference among voters of the Likud, the Zionist Union and Bayit Yehudi.

The poll also asked respondents whether Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel contributes to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, harms chances of resolving the conflict or has no impact.

While among Israeli Arabs, 76% said Trump’s announcement harms efforts to resolve the conflict, Jews were much more divided.

A third of the Jewish respondents said the announcement damages the chance of reaching a solution, 23% said it contributes to resolving the conflict, 36% said it would have no effect, and 8% had no opinion on the matter.

Bayit Yehudi voters were the most likely to say the decision contributes to resolving the conflict, at 47%, compared with 22% of Likud voters, 12% of Yesh Atid voters and 14% of Zionist Union voters

 

Family Connections of a True Friend of Israel

December 18, 2017

by Christian Jürs

The current American President is directly descended from the German Trumpf family.

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

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

Trumpf was also a director of the Reichsbank.

SS background of Arnold Trumpf:

SS-Oberführer / Leutnant d.R. a.D.

Born: 27. Oct. 1892 in Gifhorn

Died: 7. January 1985 in Garmish-Partenkirchen

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

SS-Nr.: 187 119

Promotions:

SS-Oberfuhrer: 30. Jan. 1939

Career:

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

Decorations & Awards:

1914 Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse

Kriegsverdienstkreuz II. Klasse ohne Schwerter

Verwundetenabzeichen, 1918 in Schwarz

Ehrenkreuz fur Frontkampfer

Ehrendegen des RF SS

Totenkopfring der SS

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

Among their duties were:

  • Kidnapping of children suitable for Germanization
  • Mass population evictions and transfers
  • The persecution and liquidation of Jews

 

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

Although none of this information is secret, somehow Wikipedia and other American reference sites have neglected to mention it.

References

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

 

The President Plays with Matches

And the Whole World Burns

December 17, 2017

by Rebecca Gordon

TomDispatch

“I’ve just heard that my family home near Carpenteria is literally in flames at this moment,” a friend told me recently. She was particularly worried, she said, because “my mom has MS. She and my dad got the call to evacuate after midnight last night. They were able to grab a few photos, my sister’s childhood teddy bear, and the dog. That’s it. That’s all that’s left.”

My friend’s parents are among the thousands of victims of the 240,000-acre Thomas fire, one of California’s spate of late-season wildfires. Stoked by 80-mile-an-hour Santa Ana winds, plenty of dry fuel, and 8% humidity, such fires are devouring huge swaths of southern California from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. Months of dry weather and unseasonably warm temperatures have turned the southern part of the state into a tinderbox.

Once again the country watches in horror as firefighters struggle to contain blazes of historic voracity — as we watched only a couple of months ago when at least 250 wildfires spread across the counties north of San Francisco. Even after long-awaited rains brought by an El Niño winter earlier in 2017, years of drought have left my state ready to explode in flames on an increasingly warming planet. All it takes is a spark.

Sort of like the whole world in the age of Donald Trump.

Torching Jerusalem

The crazy comes so fast and furious these days, it’s easy to forget some of the smaller brushfires — like the one President Trump lit at the end of November when he retweeted three false and “inflammatory” videos about Muslims that he found on the Twitter feed of the leader of a British ultra-nationalist group.

The president’s next move in the international arena — his “recognition” of Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Israel — hasn’t yet slipped from memory, in part because of the outrage it evoked around the world. As Moustafa Bayoumi, acclaimed author of How Does It Feel to be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America, wrote in the Guardian, “The entire Middle East, from Palestine to Yemen, appears set to burst into flames after this week.” Not surprisingly, his prediction has already begun to come true with demonstrations in the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon, where U.S. flags and posters of President Trump were set alight. We’ve also seen the first rockets fired from Gaza into Israel and the predictable reprisal Israeli air attacks.

Trump’s Jerusalem announcement comes as his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, pursues his so-called Middle East peace initiative. Kushner’s new BFF is Mohammed bin Salman, the heir apparent to the Saudi throne. We don’t know just what the two of them talked about during a late night tête-à-tête as October ended, but it probably involved Salman’s plans to jail hundreds of prominent Saudis, including 11 fellow princes. They undoubtedly also discussed a new, incendiary Israeli-Palestinian “peace plan” that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are reportedly quietly circulating.

Under this proposal, according to the New York Times,

“The Palestinians would get a state of their own but only noncontiguous parts of the West Bank and only limited sovereignty over their own territory. The vast majority of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which most of the world considers illegal, would remain. The Palestinians would not be given East Jerusalem as their capital and there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.”

If this is the “deal of the century” that President Trump plans to roll out, then it’s no surprise that he’d prepare the way by announcing his plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.

That move reveals a lot about Trump’s much vaunted deal-making skills when it comes to the international arena.  Here he has made a major concession to Israel without receiving a thing in return, except words of praise from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (and from evangelicals in this country). Given that Israel came into possession of the eastern half of Jerusalem through military conquest in 1967, a method of acquiring territory that international law views as illegal, it was quite a concession. The ultimate status of Jersalem is supposed to be a subject for the final stage of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, not a gift to one side before the talks even begin.

Behind this concession, as far as can be seen, lies no strategic intent of any sort, not in the Middle East at least. In fact, President Trump was perfectly clear about just why he was making the announcement: to distinguish himself from his predecessors. (That is, to make himself feel good.) “While previous presidents have made [moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem] a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”

“Some say,” he added, that his predecessors failed because “they lacked courage.” In point of fact, Trump did not exactly “deliver” either. Just like his predecessors, he promptly signed a semi-annual waiver that once again delayed the actual embassy move for six months.

Pyromania?

Rather than serving a larger Middle East strategy, Trump’s Jerusalem announcement served mainly his own ego. It gave him the usual warm bath of adulation from his base and another burst of the pleasure he derives from seeing his name in the headlines.

In his daily behavior, in fact, Trump acts less like a shrewd dealmaker than a child with pyromania, one who relieves anxiety and draws attention by starting fires. How else to explain his tendency every time there’s a lull in the coverage of him, to post something incendiary on Twitter? Each time, just imagine him striking another match, lighting another fuse, and then sitting back to watch the pyrotechnics.

Here is the grim reality of this American moment: whoever has access to the president also has a good shot at pointing this human flamethrower wherever he or she chooses, whether at “Little Rocket Man” in North Korea or Doug Jones in Alabama (although that flame turned out to be, as they British say, a damp squib).

The Middle East has hardly been the only part of the world our president has taken visible pleasure in threatening to send up in flames. Consider the situation on the Korean peninsula, which remains the greatest danger the world faces today. Who could forget the way he stoked the already glowing embers of the Korean crisis in August by threatening to rain “fire and fury like the world has never seen” — an obvious nuclear reference — on North Korea? And ever since it’s only gotten worse.  In recent weeks, for instance, not only Trump but his coterie have continued to ramp up the rhetoric against that country. Earlier this month, for instance, National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster renewed the threat of military action, saying ominously, “There are ways to address this problem short of armed conflict, but it is a race because [North Korean leader Kim Jong-un]’s getting closer and closer [to having a nuclear capacity to hit the United States], and there’s not much time left.”

In September, Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, reinforced this message in an interview with CNN. “If North Korea keeps on with this reckless behavior, if the United States has to defend itself or defend its allies in any way, North Korea will be destroyed.”

Indeed, Vipin Narang, a nuclear nonproliferation specialist at MIT, thinks the Trump administration may already have accepted the inevitability of such a war and the near-guarantee that South Korea and Japan will be devastated as well — as long as it comes before North Korea can effectively launch a nuclear strike on the U.S. mainland. “There are a lot of people who argue that there’s still a window to stop North Korea from getting an ICBM with a nuclear warhead to use against the United States,” he commented to the Washington Post. “They’re telling themselves that if they strike now, worst-case scenario: only Japan and South Korea will eat a nuclear weapon.”

You don’t exactly have to be an admirer of Kim Jong-un and his sad outcast regime to imagine why he might be reluctant to relinquish his nuclear arsenal. North Korea remains the designated U.S. enemy in a war that, almost seven decades later, has never officially ended. It’s situated on a peninsula where the most powerful nation in the world holds military exercises twice a year. And Kim has had ample opportunity to observe how Washington has treated other leaders (Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi) who gave up their nuclear programs. Certainly, threats of fire and fury are not going to make him surrender his arsenal, but they may still make Donald Trump feel like a real commander-in-chief.

Home Fires Burning

It’s not only in the international arena that Trump’s been burning things up. He’s failed — for now — to destroy the Affordable Care Act (though not for lack of striking matches), but the GOP has successfully aimed the Trump flamethrower at any vestiges of progressive taxation at the federal level. And now that the House and Senate are close to reconciling their versions of tax legislation, the Republicans have made it clear just why they’re so delighted to pass a bill that will increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion dollars. It gives them a “reason” to put to flames what still remains of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s and President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society of the 1960s.

House Speaker Paul Ryan gave a vivid sense of where that presidential flamethrower could be aimed soon when he told radio host Ross Kaminsky, “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit.” The goal? Cutting appropriations for Medicare and Medicaid, programs shepherded through Congress in the mid-1960s by Lyndon Johnson. These achievements helped realize his vision of the United States as a Great Society, one that provides for the basic needs of all its citizens.

Meanwhile, when it comes to setting the American social environment on fire, President Trump has already announced his post-tax-bill target du jour: welfare “reform.”

Welfare reform? Not a subject he even mentioned on the campaign trail in 2016, but different people are aiming that flamethrower now. The Hill reports the scene as Trump talked to a group of lawmakers in the Capitol basement:

“Ticking through a number of upcoming legislative priorities, Trump briefly mentioned welfare reform, sources in the room said.

“‘We need to do that. I want to do that,’ Trump told rank-and-file lawmakers in a conference room in the basement of the Capitol. The welfare line got a big applause, with one lawmaker describing it as an ‘off-the-charts’ reception.”

We know that getting “big applause” guarantees that a Trump line will also get repeated.

At a time when “entitlement” has become a dirty word, we’d do well to remember that not so long ago it wasn’t crazy to think that the government existed to help people do collectively what they couldn’t do as individuals. As a friend said to me recently, taxes are a more organized way of crowd-funding human needs.

Who even remembers that ancient time when candidate Trump, not yet an arsonist on the home front, promised to protect Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security? President Trump is a different matter.

It seems likely, however, that at least for now the Republicans won’t push him on Social Security because, as Paul Ryan told the Washington Post’s “Wonkblog,” the Republicans don’t have enough votes to overcome a Senate filibuster and the program is too popular back home for a super-majority of Republicans to go after it.

Why can they pass a tax “reform” bill with only a simple majority, but not Social Security cuts? The tax bill is being rushed through Congress using the “reconciliation” process by which differences in the Senate and House versions are smoothed over to produce a single bill.  This only requires a simple majority to pass in each house. The Senate’s “Byrd Rule,” adopted in 1974, prohibits the use of the reconciliation process to make changes to Social Security. Thank you, former West Virginia senator Robert Byrd!

In addition to the programs that made up Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” he also signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is already hard at work setting fire to the latter, as the president continues to demand evidence for his absurd claim that he won the popular vote in the 2016 election. He must be having an effect. At least half of all Republicans now seem to believe that he indeed did win that vote.

And before we leave the subject, just a couple of final notes on literal fires in the Trump era. His Department of Transportation has been quietly at work making those more likely, too. In a move supported by fans of train fires everywhere, that department has quietly reversed an Obama-era rule requiring that trains carrying crude oil deploy, as Reuters reports, “an advanced braking system designed to prevent fiery derailments… The requirement to install so-called electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes was included in a package of safety reforms unveiled by the Obama administration in 2015 in response to a series of deadly derailments that grew out of the U.S. shale boom.”

Government data shows there have been 17 such derailments of trains carrying crude oil or ethanol in the U.S. since 2006.

Then there’s the fire that has probably destroyed my friend’s house in southern California even as I wrote this. Donald Trump can hardly be blamed for that one. The climate in this part of the world has already grown hotter and drier.  We can certainly blame him, however, for turning up the heat on planet Earth by announcing plans to pull the United States out of the 2015 Paris agreement on climate change, overseeing the slashing of tax incentives for alternative energy (amid a bonanza of favors for the fossil fuel industry), and working to assert an oil, gas, and coal version of American “energy dominance” globally.  From the world’s leading economic power, there may be no larger “match” on the planet.

A Flame of Hope

What hope is there of quenching the Trumpian fires?

There is the fact that much of the world is standing up to him. At this month’s climate accord follow-up meeting in Paris, billionaires Bill Gates and Richard Branson announced “a dozen international projects emerging from the summit that will inject money into efforts to curb climate change.” The head of the World Bank insisted that the institution would stop funding fossil fuel programs within the next two years. Former American officials spoke up, too, as U.S. News & World Report observed:

“One by one, officials including former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, billionaire [and former New York City mayor] Michael Bloomberg, and former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry insisted the world will shift to cleaner fuels and reduce emissions regardless of whether the Trump administration pitches in.”

I take comfort, too, in the extraordinary achievements of international civil society. Consider, for example, the work of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), this year’s recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. This summer, as a result of a campaign it led, two-thirds of the world’s nations — 122 of them — signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which outlaws the use, production, and possession of nuclear arms. That treaty — and the Nobel that rewarded its organizers — didn’t get a lot of coverage in the United States, perhaps because, predictably, we didn’t sign it.

In fact, none of the existing nuclear powers signed it, but the treaty remains significant nonetheless. We should not underestimate the moral power of international agreements like this one. Few of us remember the 1928 Kellogg-Briand pact, which outlawed recourse to war for the resolution of international disputes. Nevertheless, that treaty formed the basis for the conviction of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg for their crimes against peace. By implication, the Kellogg-Briand treaty also legalized a whole set of non-military actions nations can now take, including the use of economic sanctions against countries that violate international norms or laws.

ICAN leaders Beatrice Fihn and Setsuko Thurlow (herself a Hiroshima survivor) believe that, over time, the treaty will change how the world thinks about nuclear weapons, transforming them from a necessary evil to an unthinkable one, and so will ultimately lead to their elimination. As Fihn told the BBC’s Stephen Sackur, “If you’re uncomfortable with nuclear weapons under Donald Trump, you’re probably uncomfortable with nuclear weapons” in general. In other words, the idea of Trump’s tiny fingers on the nuclear trigger is enough to start a person wondering whether anybody’s fingers should be on that trigger.

The world’s reaction in Paris and ICAN’s passionate, rational belief in the moral power of international law are like a cool drink of water on a very hot day.

 

US to support new Temple Rebuilding

December 6, 2017

by Rebecca Weinstein

dbf news (Israel)

American officials confirmed on Monday that American President Donald Trump has very strongly indicated that he “fully supported” the immediate rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem.

“The first step in this process,” Trump said, “is to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel and the second is to rebuild their temple.”

The first Temple, built by King Solomon, was destroyed by the Babylonians and the second, by Herod Agrippa, was destroyed by the Romans after the collapse of the revolt of 67 AD.

“The Temple Mount will first have to be cleared off to make way for the new construction,” Rabbi Chaim Richman, director of the International Department of The Temple Institute, said earlier today, “and the beginning of the new edifice can then commence.”

Plans for the new Temple have already been approved and construction is expected as soon as all the existing buildings on the site of the former Temples have been demolished and the site prepared.

Geological reports on the condition of the underlying stone have long been completed and all that was remaining for work to commence was the right political atmosphere and the moral support of the United States.

President Trump has personally expressed his satisfaction with this culturally and religiously significant project and indicated that he would be “deeply honored” to attend services when the new Temple was completed.

Mr. Trump has long been seen as a strong and active supporter of Israel and a firm friend of Mr. Netanahau

Rabbi Richman said that construction is expected not to exceed seven months.

“Qubbat al-Sakhrah is an insult to the people of Israel and the sooner it vanishes, the better,” Rabbi Richman stated.

Comment: The surplus “existing” buildings that are mentioned in this article include the Dome of the Rock mosque and other historically and religiously important Arab constructions. Why not tear down the Vatican while they are at it and erect a bagel stand in its place?

 

U.S. vetoes U.N. call for withdrawal of Trump Jerusalem decision

December 18, 2017

by Michelle Nicholas

Reuters

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States was further isolated on Monday over President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital when it blocked a United Nations Security Council call for the declaration to be withdrawn.

The remaining 14 council members voted in favor of the Egyptian-drafted resolution, which did not specifically mention the United States or Trump but which expressed “deep regret at recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem.”

“What we witnessed here in the Security Council is an insult. It won’t be forgotten,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said after the vote.

It was the first veto cast by the United States in the Security Council in more than six years, Haley said.

“We do it with no joy, but we do it with no reluctance,” she said. “The fact that this veto is being done in defense of American sovereignty and in defense of America’s role in the Middle East peace process is not a source of embarrassment for us; it should be an embarrassment to the remainder of the Security Council.”

The U.N. draft resolution affirmed “that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council.”

Members of the United Nations Security Council vote on an Egyptian-drafted resolution regarding recent decisions concerning the status of Jerusalem, during a meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including Palestine, at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., December 18, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Trump abruptly reversed decades of U.S. policy this month when he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, generating outrage from Palestinians and the Arab world and concern among Washington’s western allies.

“In the wake of the decision of the United States … the situation has become more tense with an increase in incidents, notably rockets fired from Gaza and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces,” U.N. Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council ahead of the vote.

Trump also plans to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

The draft U.N. resolution had also called upon all countries to refrain from establishing diplomatic missions in Jerusalem.

“The United States has a sovereign right to determine where and whether we establish an embassy,” Haley said. “I suspect very few member states would welcome Security Council pronouncements about their sovereign decisions.”

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent Palestinian state to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in a 1967 war and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Will Dunham and James Dalgleish

 

Surge in 2017 of anti-Semitism reported in new study

November 6, 2017

by Yonat Shimron

America

(RNS) — A new report shows a continued rise in anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S. in the first nine months of 2017, partly attributable to the Charlottesville, Va., rally in which white nationalists marched through the city shouting “Jews will not replace us.”

The report from the Anti-Defamation League shows a 67 percent increase in physical assaults, vandalism and attacks on Jewish institutions over the same period last year.

Specifically, the report cites 1,299 anti-Semitic incidents across the U.S. between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30 of this year, up from 779 in the same period in 2016. The ADL has counted anti-Semitic incidents in the U.S. and reported the numbers since 1979.

“While the tragedy in Charlottesville highlighted this trend, it was not an aberration,” Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL’s CEO, said in a written statement. “Every single day, white supremacists target members of the Jewish community — holding rallies in public, recruiting on college campuses, attacking journalists on social media, and even targeting young children.”

The report shows that anti-Semitic incidents spiked during and immediately after the Charlottesville protests that left one woman dead. President Trump ignited a political firestorm in the wake of the violence when he attributed “blame on both sides” — white supremacists, as well as those who marched against them.

Of the 306 incidents reported in the third quarter of 2017, 221 took place on or after the Aug. 11-12 rally. Still, the total number of anti-Semitic incidents peaked in the first quarter of the year, which saw 667 instances of anti-Semitism.

Among the most notable incidents, the first nine months of 2017 saw 162 bomb threats against Jewish institutions, 584 incidents of vandalism and 12 physical assaults.

In March, after an international probe spearheaded by the FBI, Michael Kaydar, an 18-year-old Israeli-American, was arrested in Israel in connection with a wave of bomb threats at Jewish community centers.

Bomb threats, vandalism, harassment and assaults took place across the country, but the states with the highest number of incidents tended to be those with the largest Jewish populations: New York, California, Massachusetts, Florida and Pennsylvania.

New York state had the highest number of incidents — 267. It also had the highest number of reported assaults — eight.

Perhaps most troubling, the report found a growing spurt of anti-Semitic harassment and vandalism on college campuses and in grade schools. Incidents in K-12 schools in 2017 more than doubled over the same period in 2016 (269, up from 130).

On college campuses, 118 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in the first three quarters of 2017, compared with 74 in the same period of 2016 – a 59 percent increase.

 

 

The Strzok Texts: FBI Plotted to Unseat Trump Before Election

Now we have solid evidence of the Deep State’s treason

December 18, 2017

by Justin Raimondo

AntiWar

We now have proof that the FBI was actively plotting a coup d’etat against President Trump even before he was elected.

Despite my libertarian skepticism when it comes to the nature and ultimate fate of American democracy, that’s a sentence I never expected to write. After all, are we living in some banana republic out of a Graham Greene novel, or the republic founded by Jefferson, Madison, Washington, and Adams? Given the most recent revelations surrounding the Mueller investigation, and the behavior of the FBI both before and after the 2016 presidential election, the answer to that question is not at all clear.

The publication of the text messages and emails of one Peter Strzok – a top FBI official intimately involved the Mueller probe as well as the Hillary Clinton server investigation and the Michael Flynn case – gives us a fascinating inside look at the politics of the country’s most powerful law enforcement agency. Not the rank and file, but the upper management, which – as the Strzok data dump shows – constituted the militant wing of the Clintonian movement, and I mean that literally. For the word “militant” is routinely used to describe a political extremist of one sort of another, and that is precisely what Strzok’s midsummer 2016 text message to his DOJ lawyer girlfriend conveys:

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office – that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected – but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

Andy is FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe: I wonder who else was at that little powwow in his office. Was it just FBI, or were representatives of the intelligence community also present?

In reply, the girlfriend – FBI lawyer Lisa Page, also part of the Mueller team – wrote:

“Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.”

Strzok’s answer is a pledge to “protect the country on many levels.”

Over 350 of his text messages and emails to Page were released, I believe due to a FOIA request by the heroic Judicial Watch. They are filled with vitriol, much of it obscene, aimed at Trump, and slavish devotion to Mrs. Clinton, whom both Strzok and Page fully expected to win. But Strzok, and apparently McCabe and others, weren’t taking any chances: Hillary’s supporters inside the Obama administration had a contingency plan just in case lightning struck.

When the smoke cleared, Russia-gate, the Mueller investigation, and what amounts to a regime-change operation of the sort the CIA pulled off in Chile, in 1973, and in Guatemala, in 1954, went into high gear. The goal: to obstruct the incoming Trump administration at every turn, and, in effect, achieve a condition of dual power despite the election results.

Their strategy appears to be working. Aside from the well-publicized activities of #TheResistance within the solidly pro-Clinton federal bureaucracy, the anti-Trumpian agitation coming from within the circle of his own advisors and appointees – the leaks, the outright insults, and the public displays of dissent – raise the question of “Who’s in charge?”

President Trump’s demand that the Saudis end their morally indefensible blockade of Yemen’s ports “immediately” was directly contradicted by UN ambassador and former NeverTrumper Nikki Haley, who seems to be conducting her own foreign policy. In what surely achieved some sort of record in the annals of moral degeneracy, Haley’s endless UN peroration openly supported the Saudis/UAE invasion of Yemen without mentioning the famine, the Saudi bombing of civilians, or even the President’s call to end the blockade.. Instead, she dragged out some wreckage purported to be an Iranian missile which fell harmlessly in the desert somewhere near Riyadh.

Here, again, we have to wonder: Is anybody really in charge, at this point?

This radical uncertainty is the oil that greases the wheels and cogs of the contingency plan hatched in McCabe’s office: the lubricant that eases and excuses an otherwise unthinkable assault on the Constitution and the rule of law. The very fact that the drama of Election Year 2017 is still playing out as 2018 dawns is in itself a propaganda victory for the coup plotters. Oh yes, everything’s going according to plan.

Is it me, or is the politicization of our federal law enforcement apparatus one of the truly frightening phenomena of our increasingly out-of-control era? And look at how the politics have inverted the historical tradition: I’m old enough to remember when conservatives stood by the FBI as a solid bulwark against criminality and communism, and liberals exposed and denounced the agency’s notorious spying on and hounding of American political dissidents. Today the tables are turned, with Sean Hannity railing nightly against the latest example of FBI misconduct, while the liberal media serves as a megaphone for what Hannity disdainfully refers to as “the Deep State.”

This has put old-fashioned liberals – those few who are still left – in the rather uncomfortable position of seeming to echo Trump and his defenders when they remind their leftist comrades that the Deep State is a) real, and b) not their friend. But then again hardly anyone remembers that history anymore.

Those progressive journalists with enough integrity to question the conspiracy theory at the heart of Russia-gate are routinely smeared as Putin’s “apologists,” when the real issue is the spectacular lack of evidence to support the case for “collusion.” These honest types are a distinct minority, however: #TheResistance has sucked up all the energy on what passes for the Left these days.

Longtime readers of this column will remember my theory of how the explosive power that felled that Twin Towers on 9/11 tore a hole in the space-time continuum and flung us into a Bizarro World alternate universe. Events continue to confirm my hypothesis. Look around and what do you see? A world where up is down, truth is fiction, and Fox News is the only “mainstream” voice being raised on behalf of liberty and sheer sanity.

As a side note, I want to underscore the irony of the strategic perspective proffered by “liberal-tarians” who propose an alliance with the Left at precisely the moment when the old quasi-libertarian leftism is practically dead and buried, and something quite ominous has taken its place. The old liberalism has been swamped by Michael Tomasky’s self-described anti-Trump “Popular Front,” which embraces liberals like himself standing shoulder to shoulder with Bill Kristol.

According to the Popular Frontists, readers of The Nation must lock arms with Weekly Standard subscribers in solidarity with the struggle against Trumpism. As to who will benefit from such an ideological shotgun marriage, and what sort of hybrid creature will be born of such a union, this is made all too plain by the sudden reappearance of Bush era speechwriter and neoconservative ideologue David Frum, who has been born again as a major figure in #TheResistance.

All sorts of opportunists and political con artists have jumped on the Trump-is-Hitler bandwagon. Discredited by the complete disaster of their pet project, the Iraq war, the neoconservatives have risen from the political grave and reincarnated as the right-wing of the anti-Trump Popular Front. The “liberal-tarians,” with considerable financial ties to the ultra-Clintonian Omidyar Network, are a potentially more palatable subset of this faction. Like their neoconservative allies, however, they are generals without an army – but with an impressive list of big donors, the sort who have never been known to contribute to ostensibly libertarian causes.

These are the activists, the ground troops, who together with the far left and the more traditional organizations that make up the Democratic party base, are part of an unprecedented and increasingly open campaign to reverse the results of a presidential election. We’ve seen this drama played out in the streets by the NeverTrumpers, but what the Strzok revelations do is give us a look behind the curtain at the origins and source of this movement – one initiated and directed by officials from within our own government. The “insurance policy” that Strzok and the McCabe cabal took out at that fateful midsummer meeting is playing out in today’s headlines, as the power elite exercises its right of veto when it comes to the question of Trump.

The McCabe conspiracy to topple Trump is really unprecedented, at least to my knowledge. This gang of self-appointed nation-savers, who have never been elected to anything, have fabricated a case of “collusion” and even treason against a President they plotted to unseat before he was even elected. The real treason is being committed by the coup plotters, who are undermining the very system they claim to be defending against the President.

In the end, this isn’t about Trump. It’s about whether the political class will be allowed to override the electoral process. If your answer is “Yes, but only this one time,” then you don’t understand what’s at stake in this fight – nothing less than the continuity of the constitutional order.

 

Trump-Russia inquiry: Why attacks on Robert Mueller are mounting

December 17, 2017

by Anthony Zurcher

BBC News

In recent weeks, conservative commentators and politicians have begun arguing, with growing intensity, that Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia is the result of an intentional effort by biased investigators to undermine the Trump presidency.

There are a number of components to the case they are presenting, from doubts about the impartiality of Mr Mueller and his team to questions about the integrity of the FBI and the Obama-era Justice Department.

  • Mueller improperly obtained emails, lawyer says

All of it could be setting the ground for new investigations into the FBI or Democrat Hillary Clinton’s actions while secretary of state – something Mr Trump himself has suggested – or perhaps even for the president to order the end of Mr Mueller’s probe.

Such an action would provoke a major political crisis and could have unpredictable consequences. For Mr Trump’s defenders, it may be enough simply to mire Mr Mueller’s investigation in a partisan morass. Here are some are some of the ways they’re trying to do that.

Tell-tale texts?

Peter Strzok, a senior counter-intelligence agent in the FBI and until this summer a top member of Mr Mueller’s special counsel team, has become Exhibit A of anti-Trump bias in the Russia investigation.

A Justice Department inspector general review of the FBI’s handling of its 2016 election investigations unearthed text messages between Mr Strzok and Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer who also temporarily worked on the Mueller investigation and with whom Mr Strzok was having an extramarital affair.

Some of the messages, which were provided to reporters, showed the two had a hostility toward then-candidate Trump in 2016. Ms Page called Mr Trump a “loathsome human” in March, as the candidate was cementing his lead in the Republican primary field. Three months later – after Mr Trump had secured the nomination – Mr Strzok wrote that he was an “idiot” who said “bigoted nonsense”.

In an August text, Mr Strzok discussed a meeting with then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe in which Ms Page apparently had mentioned there was “no way” Mr Trump could be elected.

“I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Mr Strzok wrote. “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

Some have theorised that the “insurance policy” in question was an FBI plan to destroy Mr Trump if he were to win. Others have suggested that it was simply a reference to the need to continue working the Trump-Russia investigation even though his election seemed unlikely.

“It is very sad when you look at those documents,” Mr Trump said on Friday, apparently referring to the texts. “And how they’ve done that is really, really disgraceful, and you have a lot of very angry people that are seeing it.” He said it was a shame what had happened to the FBI and that it would be “rebuilt”.

Since the first coverage of the story, reporters have reviewed more of the Strzok-Page texts and found the two made disparaging comments about a wide range of public figures, including Chelsea Clinton, Democrat Bernie Sanders, then-Attorney General Eric Holder, Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and John Kasich, and Mrs Clinton.

“I’m worried about what happens if HRC is elected,” Mr Strzok wrote, referring to Mrs Clinton by her initials.

Why it could matter: If Mr Strzok, a high-ranking member of the FBI who officially launched the initial investigation of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, harboured anti-Trump animus, there is the possibility it could have motivated him to influence the investigation to the president’s disadvantage.

Why it might not: Government employees are allowed to express political views as long as they don’t influence their job performance. The breadth of the Strzok-Page texts could indicate they were just gossiping lovers. Without context, Mr Strzok’s “insurance” line is vague. When Mr Mueller learned of the text this summer, Mr Strzok was removed from the independent counsel investigation and reassigned to a human resources job.

The Clinton case

Mr Strzok also figures prominently in Republican concerns about the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

Mr Strzok took part in interviews with key Clinton aides and reportedly was involved in drafting the report that concluded Mrs Clinton’s actions did not warrant criminal charges, including changing the description of her handling of classified material from “grossly negligent” – which might have suggested illegal behaviour – to “extremely careless”.

  • What is Robert Mueller tasked with?

During the campaign Mr Trump repeatedly insisted that the Justice Department should re-open its investigation into Mrs Clinton and, after backing away from the idea early in his presidency, has once again renewed those calls.

“High ranking FBI officials involved in the Clinton investigation were personally invested in the outcome of the election and clearly let their strong political opinions cloud their professional judgement,” Republican Congressman Bob Goodlatte said during a House Judicial Committee hearing.

There’s also the possibility that there were more communications between Ms Page and Mr Strzok about the Clinton investigation that have yet to come to light.

“We text on that phone when we talk about Hillary because it can’t be traced, you were just venting [because] you feel bad that you’re gone so much but it can’t be helped right now,” Ms Page wrote in one text.

Chuck Grassley, the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he wants more information about the use of these “untraceable” phones.

Why it could matter: If FBI agents backed off their investigation of Mrs Clinton in 2016 it could be further evidence of bias within the bureau that could affect its ongoing investigation into Mr Trump. If public confidence in the FBI is eroded, the ultimate findings of Mr Mueller’s probe may be cast in doubt.

Why it might not: Lest anyone forget, Mrs Clinton’s candidacy was the one wounded by FBI actions in the final days of the 2016 campaign. Then-Director James Comey’s announcement of new evidence in the inquiry into her private email server – perhaps prompted by anti-Clinton leaks from the bureau’s New York office – dominated the headlines and renewed concerns about the former secretary of state. News of the ongoing Trump-Russia investigation, on the other hand, didn’t emerge until well after the election.

Marital woes

When it comes to the ongoing investigations into the investigations, it’s not just the actions of the principals involved that have come under the spotlight. Spouses have figured prominently, as well.

FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, the bureau’s second-in-command, is married to Jill McCabe, a paediatrician who ran as a Democrat for a Virginia state senate seat in 2015 (before Mr McCabe was promoted to his current position). During the hotly contested race, Ms McCabe received $467,500 in campaign contributions from a political action committee controlled by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a close political ally of the Clinton family.

Conservatives contend that this donation should have disqualified Mr McCabe from involvement in the Clinton case – and was yet another example of possible anti-Trump bias in the FBI’s Russia investigation.

“If Mr McCabe failed to avoid the appearance of a partisan conflict of interest in favour of Mrs Clinton during the presidential election, then any participation in [the Russia] inquiry creates the exact same appearance of a partisan conflict of interest against Mr Trump,” Senator Grassley wrote in a letter to then-Director Comey in March.

Meanwhile, the wife of Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G Ohr was recently reported as being employed in 2016 by Fusion GPS, the political research firm that produced the dossier containing unconfirmed allegations of Mr Trump’s Russia entanglements. Mr Ohr himself has been connected to Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence agent who collected the material for the dossier.

Fusion GPS’s anti-Trump research efforts were originally funded by a Republican donor and later backed by groups associated with the Democratic Party and the Clinton presidential campaign.

Why it matters: “Power couples” – spouses with influential, complementary political jobs – are a Washington tradition, and the actions of one partner are often considered to reflect on the views and behaviour of the other. In Mr McCabe’s case, his wife’s Democratic activism and allegiances could shed light on his political sympathies. For Mr Ohr, his marriage could have served as a conduit to inject Democratic-funded opposition research into the Justice Department.

Why it might not: Having a political spouse is not evidence of official bias. The identity of the individuals or groups that funded and gathered anti-Trump research and how it ended up in government hands does not necessarily have a bearing on whether the information is valid or merits further investigation.

Follow the money

The individuals working on the Russia investigation have been billed as a “dream team” by Democrats and liberal commentators hoping the efforts will eventually topple the Trump presidency.

Many conservatives beg to differ.

In June, as details of the special counsel hires began to emerge, conservatives noted that some of the biggest names – Andrew Weissmann, James Quarles, Jeannie Rhee and Michael Dreeben – had given money to Democratic presidential candidates.

“Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair,” former Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich tweeted. “Look who he is hiring.”

Ms Rhee’s private law work included representing Democrats, such as Obama Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes and the Clinton Foundation in a lawsuit brought by a conservative activist group.

Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz recently travelled to Florida with Mr Trump and said he told the president that the independent counsel investigation was “infected with bias” against him – a view echoed in the conservative press.

“What we’ve seen over the past seven months of the Mueller investigation reveals a lot about how big government can end up becoming a threat to representative democracy,” Laura Ingraham said on her Fox News programme. “And the more we look at the web of Clinton and Obama loyalists who burrowed into Mueller’s office, the more obvious it all becomes.”

Why it could matter: Political donations and legal work may be evidence of the ideological tilt of Mr Mueller’s investigative team. That he has assembled a group of lawyers that may lean to the left could mean the investigation itself is predisposed to findings damaging to Mr Trump.

Why it might not: Investigators are adversarial by nature, and as long as Mr Mueller’s team builds its cases with hard evidence, personal political views should not matter. While political partisans may focus on staff-level appointments, the investigation will rise and fall based on perceptions of Mr Mueller himself.

Mr Mueller’s waiver

Prior to accepting the position as special counsel investigating possible Trump campaign ties to Russia, Mr Mueller requested – and received – an “ethics waiver” for possible conflicts of interest from the US Department of Justice.

The government has confirmed the existence of the waiver but has not revealed any details, although speculation at the time was that it had to do with Mr Mueller’s work at the law firm WilmerHale, which represented former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort – who Mr Mueller has since indicted on money-laundering charges – and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Why it could matter: Without further information about the nature of the waiver, some are speculating that there is more to this request than simply routine ethical paperwork. Given that Mr Mueller is a former director of the FBI, with ties to many of the bureau officials who are now coming under conservative scrutiny, Mr Mueller’s own allegiances are being called into question.

Why it might not: Mr Mueller is a decorated war veteran who, prior to taking the special counsel role was widely praised for his independence and probity. He was appointed FBI head by Republican George W Bush in 2001. If Mr Mueller’s waiver had explosive details indicating clear bias, it probably would have leaked by now.

 

Bitcoin Bubble Signs Are Everywhere

An old investing adage suggests the bitcoin bubble may soon burst.

December 11, 2017

by Wayne Duggan

usnews

Not even a fresh batch of bitcoin short sellers can slow down the cryptocurrency’s bullish momentum. The price of bitcoin surged once again on Sunday following the launch of bitcoin futures trading, but Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster says he is seeing even more anecdotal evidence of a bitcoin bubble.

CBOE Global Markets (CBOE) launched bitcoin futures trading at 6 p.m. on Sunday evening, providing bitcoin bears their first opportunity to easily make short bets against the currency. But bitcoin bulls have once again outweighed the bears since the futures launch. The new bitcoin futures contract, which expires in January and trades under the ticker XBT, is up 16.2 percent overnight, and the price of bitcoin is up $1,000 to $16,571 on Monday morning.

Bitcoin has been one of the most divisive assets on Wall Street in recent memory. Bitcoin bulls argue that it could eventually join gold as a preferred global store of wealth. Bitcoin bears say the market exuberance surrounding bitcoin is textbook bubble behavior.

Munster says he recently experienced a real-life example of an old Wall Street adage: “When your barber gets in, it’s time to get out.”

Munster was recently asked how to buy bitcoin by his Uber driver. Munster says the experience should serve as “a cautionary one-off story that illustrates the bitcoin investor shift over the past year from tech futurist, to professional investor, and now the general public.”

Despite the short-term bullish trading in bitcoin following Sunday’s futures launch, Munster says futures trading is likely to be a net negative for the bitcoin’s price in the long-term as short sellers now have more ammunition. Munster says cryptocurrencies will play a meaningful role in the future of how consumers store and exchange money, but that value is likely not what’s driving bitcoin’s huge price surge.

“It’s more likely than not that bitcoin is in a bubble and the price of bitcoin will be extremely volatile, especially as more futures exchanges open,” Munster says.

The price of bitcoin has soared more than 1,600 percent in 2017, yet retail investors have limited investment options outside of setting up a digital wallet and buying the cryptocurrency directly. The Bitcoin Investment Trust (GBTC) trades over-the-counter, and bitcoin futures may now be the best option for traders while they await the first Securities and Exchange Commission-approved bitcoin exchange-traded fund.

 

Will the bitcoin bubble burst?

Warren Buffett, Howard Marks and Nobel economist Robert Shiller have warned the craze will end badly

Decenber 12, 2017

by Proinsias O’Mahony

Irish Times

The cryptocurrency craze is getting crazier. The price of bitcoin, under $1,000 a year ago, hit $6,000 in mid-November and had crossed yet another major milestone – $10,000 – by the end of the month.

A $1,000 investment in bitcoin in July 2010 would now be worth more than $200 million. Has there ever been a bubble like bitcoin?

The bitcoin boom is often compared to the dotcom bubble in the late 1990s, but there is no comparison. The Nasdaq telecom index soared over 700 per cent between 1995 and 2000 but bitcoin has risen tenfold in 2017 alone and has averaged annualised gains of over 400 per cent since July 2010.

The volatility in bitcoin prices is five times greater than that seen at the height of the technology bubble. In fact, almost no bubble in history can compare, according to New York-based Convoy Investments.

The 1990s tech bubble, the 1980s bubble in Japanese stocks and property, gold in the 1970s, US stocks in the 1920s, even the infamous South Sea bubble of 1720. None of them saw gains as large as bitcoin’s. Bitcoin’s advance dwarfs all but one bubble in financial history – the Dutch tulip mania in the 17th century.

End badly

A whole host of prominent names, including Warren Buffett, hedge fund managers Howard Marks and Ray Dalio, JPMorgan chief executive Jamie Dimon, and Nobel economist Robert Shiller, have warned bitcoin is a dangerous bubble that will end badly.

At the same time, it is receiving increased attention from professionals. CME Group plans to offer its customers the ability to trade futures contracts for bitcoin, with trading expected to commence this month. One fund run by Bill Miller, who famously outperformed the S&P 500 15 years in a row before things went badly wrong during the global financial crisis, reportedly has 30 per cent of its assets in bitcoin, with Miller saying the cryptocurrency is a “technological experiment that may or may not prove to have any long-lasting value”.

Billionaire investor Michael Novogratz reckons bitcoin could hit $40,000 in 2018 and plans to launch a $500 million cryptocurrency fund.

In July, Ritholtz Wealth Management chief executive and Reformed Broker blogger Josh Brown said he had bought bitcoin as a personal investment. In the same month, Fundstrat founder Thomas Lee became the first major Wall Street strategist to issue a bullish report on bitcoin. Swiss giant UBS says blockchain, the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies, is “likely to have a significant impact in industries ranging from finance to manufacturing, healthcare and utilities”.

 

 

 

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