The Guardian gives Trump the all-clear on Russia “scandal”

Guardian

GCHQ first became aware in late 2015 of suspicious “interactions” between figures connected to Trump and known or suspected Russian agents, a source close to UK intelligence said. This intelligence was passed to the US as part of a routine exchange of information, they added….

The European countries that passed on electronic intelligence – known as sigint – included Germany, Estonia and Poland. Australia, a member of the “Five Eyes” spying alliance that also includes the US, UK, Canada and New Zealand, also relayed material, one source said.

Another source suggested the Dutch and the French spy agency, the General Directorate for External Security or DGSE, were contributors.

Let us add up the countries that were contributing to the surveillance on Trump: US, UK, Germany, Estonia, Poland, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Netherlands and France. That is ten countries.

If the intelligence agencies of ten countries can’t find the smoking gun then folks, there isn’t one. It is simple as that. No wonder WaPo, BBC and NYT have been firing blanks on this for last several months.

BBC has been particularly insistent on making a fool of itself with headlines like this:

Russia: The scandal Trump can’t shake
Trump Russia dossier key claim ‘verified’
Russia ‘tried to hijack US election’, says US senator
Could FBI investigation into Russia links ensnare Trump?

This is the Democrat’s version of the Birther movement, with the difference being that established media like BBC and NYT are right there playing it up, along with all the elected Democrat politicians in Washington. This isn’t a fringe movement like the Birther movement. This isn’t limited to lunatic ravings of some idiot like Whoopi Goldberg, who said “Why isn’t Fox screaming about this? They screamed about Benghazi”.

If there really was something there, then by now we would have read something like this. From the liberal Politico.

Ukrainian government officials tried to help Hillary Clinton and undermine Trump by publicly questioning his fitness for office. They also disseminated documents implicating a top Trump aide in corruption and suggested they were investigating the matter, only to back away after the election. And they helped Clinton’s allies research damaging information on Trump and his advisers, a Politico investigation found.

A Ukrainian-American operative who was consulting for the Democratic National Committee met with top officials in the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington in an effort to expose ties between Trump, top campaign aide Paul Manafort and Russia, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.

Or perhaps something like this. From the conservative Daily Caller.

John Podesta, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 national campaign chairman, may have violated federal law by failing to disclose the receipt of 75,000 shares of stock from a Kremlin-financed company when he joined the Obama White House in 2014, according to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group.

Joule Unlimited Technologies — financed in part by a Russian firm —  originally awarded Podesta 100,000 shares of stock options when in 2010 he joined that board along with its Dutch-based entities: Joule Global Holdings, BV and the Stichting Joule Global Foundation.

China slooowly turns the screws on Kim Jong-un

WaPo

For the first time, the Chinese government appears to have laid down a bottom-line with North Korea and is threatening Pyongyang with a response of “unprecedented ferocity” if the government of Kim Jong Un goes ahead with a test of either an intercontinental ballistic missile or a nuclear device. North Korea will celebrate the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il Sung, on Saturday, and some type of military show of force is expected.

In an editorial in the semi-official Global Times on Wednesday, Pyongyang was put on notice that it must rein in its nuclear ambitions, or else China’s oil shipments to North Korea could be “severely limited.” It is extraordinary for China to make this kind of threat. For more than a decade, as part of its strategy to prop up one of its only allies, China refused to allow the U.N. Security Council to even consider cutting oil shipments to North Korea. Beijing’s calculus was that the maintenance of the North Korean regime took precedence over everything. Now Beijing seems to be reconsidering its position.

Reuters

A fleet of North Korean cargo ships is heading home to the port of Nampo, the majority of it fully laden, after China ordered its trading companies to return coal from the isolated country, shipping data shows.

Following repeated missile tests that drew international criticism, China banned all imports of North Korean coal on Feb. 26, cutting off the country’s most important export product.

What role did Trump play in this? From the WaPo article above.

Something interesting is happening in China and perhaps President Trump deserves some credit….

These events, culminating with Trump’s strike on Syria, appear to have concentrated Chinese minds. The strategy of backing North Korea no matter what is bumping up against the risk of an unpredictable man in the White House.

An article in The Atlantic, How the Syria Strike Flipped the U.S.-Russia Power Dynamic, also sheds light on this.

“We have to figure out what this country’s strategy is,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on a political talk show on TVRain, an independent Russian channel, just hours after Tillerson touched down in Moscow, and hours before meetings were set to begin. “No one understands it right now. If you do, share your appraisal with us,” she said, flustered, to us journalists interviewing her. “We don’t understand what they’re going to do in Syria, and not only there. No one understands what they’re going to do in the Middle East, which is a very complicated region. … No one understands what they’re going to do with Iran, no one understands what they’re going to do with Afghanistan. Excuse me, and I still haven’t said anything about Iraq.”

It seems nobody has any idea what Trump is going to do. That is better than Obama, who in 2012 told the outgoing Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.” Talk about showing your hand. Perhaps it is better than, “Let me be clear… I am not bluffing.”

Doomsday and archiving human knowledge

Doomsday vault:

In the side of a mountain atop the frigid wastelands of the Norway’s Svalbard archipelago sits the Arctic ‘doomsday vault’ – an ominous facility that’s locked away close to a million seed samples from almost every country on Earth.

Designed to keep the seeds safe from nuclear war or some other global catastrophe, the Svalbard Global Seed Bank just got a new neighbour, with a second doomsday vault opening up nearby. But instead of storing seeds, this vast library has been built to ensure the survival of the world’s most important books, documents, and data….

Oddly enough, instead of taking advantage of the most advanced data security systems available, researchers at Piql have opted for a more analogue approach – they store everything on photosensitive film, which they say is a far safer option than anything digitised.

“It’s digital data preserved, written onto photosensitive film,” Piql founder Rune Bjerkestrand told Live Science. 

“So we write data as basically big QR codes on films.”

The idea is that while digital data is stored on our computers as codes of 1s and 0s, analogue data is physically etched into reels of film, and can be ‘read’ like the bumps on a vinyl record.

As Bjerkestrand observes, it’s like having your data “carved in stone.”

Hopefully this technology will keep the material more accessible than the multimedia version of the English Domesday Book which had its problems with technology, even though the original from 11th century is still readable. The BBC Domesday Project was the multimedia edition of Domesday which was compiled between 1984 and 1986 and published in 1986 but within 15-years it was showing its age.

In 2002, there were great fears that the discs would become unreadable as computers capable of reading the format had become rare and drives capable of accessing the discs even rarer. Aside from the difficulty of emulating the original code, a major issue was that the still images had been stored on the laserdisc as single-frame analogue video, which were overlaid by the computer system’s graphical interface. The project had begun years before JPEG image compression and before truecolour computer video cards had become widely available….

The deputy editor of the Domesday Project, Mike Tibbets, has criticized the UK’s National Data Archive to which the archive material was originally entrusted, arguing that the creators knew that the technology would be short-lived but that the archivists had failed to preserve the material effectively.

Streetlight effect and US political leaks

Given the extent of information that is being leaked these days by public employees in the US, one can safely state that a good chunk of NYT and WaPo writes itself but it is strange how nobody is caught for these flagrant violations; unless of course you are not aligned with the Democrats. Behold the Streetlight effect in the following case.

Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond President Jeffrey Lacker resigned on Tuesday as he disclosed his role in the leak of confidential information about the policy options that the Fed was considering in 2012.

Lacker said during a phone conversation with an analyst from Medley Global Advisors in October 2012 that she brought up an “important non-public detail” about Fed policy makers’ discussions before a meeting, according to a statement emailed by law firm McGuireWoods in Richmond, Virginia, on Tuesday. Due to the confidential and sensitive nature of the information, Lacker said he should have declined to comment or immediately ended the call….

The Medley report led to an internal Fed investigation, and Lacker said he failed to provide a full account about his conversation with the analyst in a questionnaire and interview with the Fed’s general counsel in December 2012.The Justice Department and FBI joined the inquiry in 2015 amid pressure from Congress for details about the leak. Lacker said that during that year, he disclosed the breach to law enforcement officials in an interview during their investigation. “In the subsequent 2015 interview with law enforcement officials, I did disclose that the analyst was in possession of confidential information during my October 2, 2012 conversation with her,” Lacker said.

Notice how the Fed, Justice Department, FBI and Congress descended on this leak?

US media (once again) caught doing Obama’s bidding

The latest on Russia -Trump “scandal” is the news that Susan Rice, a National Security Advisor in the Obama administration who is more famous as the Benghazi-fabulist, was central to unmasking the identities of individuals in the Trump transition team. Some background on how this story unfolded from The American Spectator.

How did we find out about Susan Rice’s role in Obamagate? Not from the mainstream media at first, but from a pro-Trump blogger named Mike Cernovich, who says he found out about the Rice story from a disgruntled staffer at a publication unwilling to publish it. In other words, he pulled a Matt Drudge. On Sunday night, Cernovich wrote that he had “been informed that Maggie Haberman has had this story about Susan Rice for at least 48 hours, and has chosen to sit on it in an effort to protect the reputation of former President Barack Obama.”….

Eli Lake, the columnist for Bloomberg who reported on the Rice revelation (Cernovich says that Bloomberg also sat on the story until he broke it),…..

CBC and the Trump travel ban

Anybody recall this headline from CBC about an aggrieved party affected by the Trump travel ban?

Trump travel ban has Iranian scientists looking for new places to do research

Today WaPo shared some facts.

The biggest beneficiary of the system, by far, is India, which produces a steady pipeline of workers trained in math, engineering and science. Seventy one percent of H-1B visa recipients came from India in 2015, according to a 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. China comes in second, accounting for nearly 10 percent of H-1B visa recipients.

Notice that these stats are from 2015, i.e. before Darth Trump manifested himself, and that Iranians are not even in the top-10.

#ObamaGate, couple of thoughts to ponder

Fact: NYT, Jan 19, 2017

American law enforcement and intelligence agencies are examining intercepted communications and financial transactions as part of a broad investigation into possible links between Russian officials and associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump, including his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, current and former senior American officials said.

With visceral hatred for Trump emanating from the Deep State and open collusion between the MSM and law enforcement & intelligence agencies, why is it that we haven’t heard anything more than “oh, this Trump guy met the Russian ambassador”? Is that the best that Democrats can do?

Fact: Whitewater investigation ended with a blue dress

Where will this investigation end up?

Fighting the ctrl-left in Canada

From Rebel Media.

Last night, approximately 750 Canadians from all walks of life came to the Rebel’s Freedom Rally to protest M103, the Liberal motion to oppose “Islamophobia” — that is, the criticism of Islam.

Speakers included Faith Goldy, Pierre Lemieux, Chris Alexander, Kellie Leitch, Brad Trost, Charles McVety, and Rebel Commander Ezra Levant.

Some of those at the event had been born in the Middle East and were distressed to see de facto blasphemy laws on the verge of coming to their adopted country.

Wrong White privilege pin colour!

This month the students at Elizabethtown College in US “are wearing white pins in the shape of puzzle pieces to remind them of their white privilege.”

The campaign was launched over the weekend by the Elizabethtown College Democrats, who say it aims to make students at the small and private liberal arts college in Pennsylvania more introspective about issues of race, especially in their predominantly white region of Lancaster County.

“Discussions about race are often perceived as being only open to people of color, but I think it is just as important for white people to partake in conversations about race,” Aileen Ida, president of the College Democrats, told The College Fix via email.

Obviously these students have right to pay $56,200 in tuition and fees to make a fool of themselves but at the very least they should get the colour of the pin consistent with history. The appropriate colour for the pin should be blue for the following reason.

The Pact of Umar, an apocryphal treaty between the Muslims and the Christians, that later gained a canonical status in Islamic jurisprudence states the following.

Obligation to identify non-Muslims as such by clipping the heads’ forelocks and by always dressing in the same manner, wherever they go, with binding the zunar (a kind of belt) around the waists. Christians to wear blue belts or turbans, Jews to wear yellow belts or turbans, Zoroastrians to wear black belts or turbans, and Samaritans to wear red belts or turbans.

Given that most of the White students are Christians, the appropriate colour for the pin should be blue. Using white as the pin colour leaves them aligned with the Ku Klux Klan. Is that really the message these students want to send? Even the Nazis got it right historically, when they specified yellow as the colour for the star that Jews had to wear as a badge.

Of course this left the Taliban in Afghanistan in a quandary, when they specified, during their  rule from 1996 to late 2001, that the Hindus had to wear badges in public to identify themselves. With no precedence for Hindus in the Islamic jurisprudence, they selected yellow as the colour of choice for these badges, thus staying within the confines of the Pact of Umar.

Michael Flynn’s political assassination by the Deep State

US continues its march toward a Banana Republic status with an out of control intelligence community in tow. The Week opines.

The United States is much better off without Michael Flynn serving as national security adviser. But no one should be cheering the way he was brought down.

The whole episode is evidence of the precipitous and ongoing collapse of America’s democratic institutions — not a sign of their resiliency. Flynn’s ouster was a soft coup (or political assassination) engineered by anonymous intelligence community bureaucrats. The results might be salutary, but this isn’t the way a liberal democracy is supposed to function.

Unelected intelligence analysts work for the president, not the other way around. Far too many Trump critics appear not to care that these intelligence agents leaked highly sensitive information to the press — mostly because Trump critics are pleased with the result. “Finally,” they say, “someone took a stand to expose collusion between the Russians and a senior aide to the president!” It is indeed important that someone took such a stand. But it matters greatly who that someone is and how they take their stand. Members of the unelected, unaccountable intelligence community are not the right someone, especially when they target a senior aide to the president by leaking anonymously to newspapers the content of classified phone intercepts, where the unverified, unsubstantiated information can inflict politically fatal damage almost instantaneously.

Bloomberg notes.

There is another component to this story as well — as Trump himself just tweeted. It’s very rare that reporters are ever told about government-monitored communications of U.S. citizens, let alone senior U.S. officials. The last story like this to hit Washington was in 2009 when Jeff Stein, then of CQ, reported on intercepted phone calls between a senior Aipac lobbyist and Jane Harman, who at the time was a Democratic member of Congress.

Normally intercepts of U.S. officials and citizens are some of the most tightly held government secrets. This is for good reason. Selectively disclosing details of private conversations monitored by the FBI or NSA gives the permanent state the power to destroy reputations from the cloak of anonymity. This is what police states do.

In the past it was considered scandalous for senior U.S. officials to even request the identities of U.S. officials incidentally monitored by the government (normally they are redacted from intelligence reports). John Bolton’s nomination to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was derailed in 2006 after the NSA confirmed he had made 10 such requests when he was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control in George W. Bush’s first term. The fact that the intercepts of Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak appear to have been widely distributed inside the government is a red flag.

All this was not an isolated event as WaPo notes.

Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

More disturbing is the release of SIGNIT related to this case.

President Trump’s national security adviser, Gen. Michael Flynn, was forced to resign on Monday night as a result of getting caught lying about whether he discussed sanctions in a December telephone call with a Russian diplomat. The only reason the public learned about Flynn’s lie is because someone inside the U.S. government violated the criminal law by leaking the contents of Flynn’s intercepted communications.

In the spectrum of crimes involving the leaking of classified information, publicly revealing the contents of SIGINT — signals intelligence — is one of the most serious felonies. Journalists (and all other nongovernmental citizens) can be prosecuted under federal law for disclosing classified information only under the narrowest circumstances; reflecting how serious SIGINT is considered to be, one of those circumstances includes leaking the contents of intercepted communications, as defined this way by 18 § 798 of the U.S. Code:

The key will be to watch if there is any follow through on this.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Tuesday that the most significant question posed by the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn is why intelligence officials eavesdropped on his calls with the Russian ambassador and later leaked information on those calls to the press.

“I expect for the FBI to tell me what is going on, and they better have a good answer,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is conducting a review of Russian activities to influence the election. “The big problem I see here is that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.”

Given Trump’s propensity to never back down from a fight, this angle might lead to interesting results if the investigation proceeds in that direction.

The abrupt resignation Monday evening of White House national security adviser Michael Flynn is the culmination of a secret, months-long campaign by former Obama administration confidantes to handicap President Donald Trump’s national security apparatus and preserve the nuclear deal with Iran, according to multiple sources in and out of the White House who described to the Washington Free Beacon a behind-the-scenes effort by these officials to plant a series of damaging stories about Flynn in the national media.

The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.