Manchester bomber was product of West’s Libya/Syria intervention…

VIA

Here’s what the media and politicians don’t want you to know about the Manchester, UK, suicide attack: Salman Abedi, the 22 year old who killed nearly two dozen concert-goers in Manchester, UK, was the product of the US and UK overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya and “regime change” policy in Syria. He was a radicalized Libyan whose family fled Gaddafi’s secular Libya, and later he trained to be an armed “rebel” in Syria, fighting for the US and UK “regime change” policy toward the secular Assad government.

The suicide attacker was the direct product of US and UK interventions in the greater Middle East.

According to the London Telegraph, Abedi, a son of Libyan immigrants living in a radicalized Muslim neighborhood in Manchester had returned to Libya several times after the overthrow of Muamar Gaddafi, most recently just weeks ago. After the US/UK and allied “liberation” of Libya, all manner of previously outlawed and fiercely suppressed radical jihadist groups suddenly found they had free rein to operate in Libya. This is the Libya that Abedi returned to and where he likely prepared for his suicide attack on pop concert attendees. Before the US-led attack on Libya in 2011, there was no al-Qaeda, ISIS, or any other related terrorist organization operating (at least with impunity) on Libyan soil.

Gaddafi himself warned Europe in January 2011 that if they overthrew his government the result would be radical Islamist attacks on Europe, but European governments paid no heed to the warnings. Post-Gaddafi Libya became an incubator of Islamist terrorists and terrorism, including prime recruiting ground for extremists to fight jihad in Syria against the also-secular Bashar Assad.

In Salman Abedi we have the convergence of both these disastrous US/UK and allied interventions, however: it turns out that not only did Abedi make trips to Libya to radicalize and train for terror, but he also travelled to Syria to become one of the “Syria rebels” fighting on the same side as the US and UK to overthrow the Assad government. Was he perhaps even trained in a CIA program? We don’t know, but it certainly is possible.

While the mainstream media and opportunistic politicians will argue that the only solution is more western intervention in the Middle East, the plain truth is that at least partial responsibility for this attack lies at the feet of those who pushed and pursued western intervention in Libya and Syria.

There would have been no jihadist training camps in Libya had Gaddafi not been overthrown by the US/UK and allies. There would have been no explosion of ISIS or al-Qaeda in Syria had it not been for the US/UK and allied policy of “regime change” in that country.

When thinking about Abedi’s guilt for this heinous act of murder, do not forget those interventionists who lit the fuse that started this conflagration. The guilt rests squarely on their shoulders as well.

Pizza delivery to stalled Amtrak train…

Public transportation is so bad here in the US that people are now ordering food on their commute
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A veteran pizza delivery man in Delaware got an order from an unusual address: a stalled Amtrak train from New York on its way to Washington.

A passenger posted a video of the delivery man walking up to the train Sunday as it sat on the tracks.

Dominic Philingera is the owner of Dom’s Pizza in Newport, Delaware. He tells The Associated Press that his driver cut through a backyard, stepped down a steep embankment and over a water-filled ditch to bring the pie to the hungry passengers. Philingera says the driver has delivered pizza in 18 states, but “this was a first for him.”

Amtrak said on Twitter that a mechanical issue was to blame for the delay.

Amtrak didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

“Trump’s firing of James Comey yesterday proves that even those who carry water for the president are not safe.. After all, Trump and his cronies are investigable for so very many things”

VIA WWW

Trump’s firing of James Comey yesterday proves that even those who carry water for the president are not safe. Trump is in greater peril, it seems, by the hour. And in response, the long knives are out for anyone who is less than 100 percent dependable.

He needs unquestioned loyalists around him — especially in the office that could send almost anyone to prison.

After all, Trump and his cronies are investigable for so very many things, from questionable business dealings and conflicts of interest to tax matters to allegedly colluding with the Russian government.

Comey, under criticism for his own actions, faced significant public pressure to demonstrate that the FBI does its job. That could not have sounded good to Trump.

As it happened, just hours before the Comey news broke, WhoWhatWhy had published a lengthy investigation into the back story to Comey’s most famous — or infamous — act. It chronicled how Trump’s close surrogates and media allies pressured the FBI director to reopen the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Evidence strongly suggests that this surprising move days before the election was decisive in Trump’s unexpected victory.

Overall, having Comey at the Bureau was a blessing for Trump. Besides damaging Clinton, he also aided Trump by withholding information about the Bureau’s potentially much more serious probe into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia.

The incoming president knew he had a good thing going. In early January, during a reception for top law-enforcement officials, an obviously grateful Trump singled Comey out for special praise and even a hug. But he soon cooled on the FBI director — as he so often does with people.

Also, Comey’s life was growing increasingly complicated, and he himself appeared to have lost his footing. In recent days, he looked incompetent in front of Congress, even bungling key testimony, such as exponentially overstating the quantity of Clinton emails forwarded to Anthony Weiner’s computer. Trump, who if anything is about appearances, could not have enjoyed watching this televised spectacle.

But the real problem was, as they say in mafia movies, you’re either with us or you’re….out.

“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” Trump said in a letter dated Tuesday.

Comey is only the second FBI director ever to be fired. He joins William Sessions, who was dismissed by Bill Clinton in 1993.

Ostensibly, the reason for Comey being sacked was his “handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails,” according to a May 9th memorandum from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. That reasoning rings hollow, however, as the alleged fireable offense took place more than six months ago.

It is much more likely that Comey’s revelation that Trump’s campaign is being investigated for its Russia ties as well as his testimony before the Senate last week were the real reason for his dismissal.

Trump and his team are desperately seeking to stifle Russiagate. Matters continue to heat up on that front. As we write, CNN is reporting that prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas. Firing one of the people in government who knows most about that sensitive topic would serve that aim twofold.

The FBI is itself entwined in the matter and urgently needs to clear the air. As WhoWhatWhy reported in another major investigation, published in late March, the Bureau maintained a long and close informant relationship with a Trump business associate working out of Trump Tower. The president may have been worried about where that thread could lead, as it includes hints as to Trump receiving long-term financing from oligarchs tied to Vladimir Putin and organized crime.

Comey now can’t make any trouble on the matter; and it serves to put any other determined federal appointees — planning to rigorously follow Russiagate even if it leads to the Oval Office — on notice that such conduct will mean the end of their career.

Not surprisingly, Trump acolytes are presenting the firing as long in coming. As the veteran Trump strategist and hatchet man Roger Stone, himself under scrutiny in Russiagate, tweeted yesterday:

Puerto Rico’s payday loans: The shocking story behind Wall Street’s role in debt crisis

Via DN

On June 30, President Obama signed into law the PROMESA bill, which will establish a federally appointed control board with sweeping powers to run Puerto Rico’s economy. While the legislation’s supporters say the bill will help the island cope with its debt crisis by allowing an orderly restructuring of its $72 billion in bond debt, critics say it is a reversion to old-style colonialism that removes democratic control from the people of Puerto Rico. But does Puerto Rico really owe $72 billion in bond debt—and to whom? A stunning new report by ReFund America Project reveals nearly half the debt owed by Puerto Rico is not actually money that the island borrowed, but instead interest owed to investors on bonds underwritten by Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. While the Puerto Rican people are facing massive austerity cuts, bondholders are set to make mind-boggling profits in what has been compared to a payday lending scheme. For more, we speak in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with Carlos Gallisá, an attorney, politician and independence movement leader. And in New York, we speak with Saqib Bhatti, director of the ReFund America Project and a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. He is co-author of the new report, “Puerto Rico’s Payday Loans.”

The problem with Trump’s attempt to scare North Korea…

VIA

President Trump and his advisers have taken a more and more threatening stance toward North Korea since January, and the isolated dictatorship has responded with threats of its own. Foreign-policy experts say a breaking point could be looming. Saturday marked the 105th anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-sung, and the regime there commemorated the holiday with displays of military force — though, thankfully, not with a nuclear test, as many experts feared. Still, there is a sense of a collision course. Several days ago, the U.S. military moved a brigade of warships to the Korean Peninsula, as a show of force. Then on Friday, the North Korean government threatened to attack major American military bases in South Korea, saying it could destroy them almost instantly.

For a broader perspective on how Trump’s approach compares to what prior U.S. administrations have done, we spoke with George Lopez, professor emeritus at the Krok Institute for International Peace Studies, which is based at Notre Dame University. He has advised the United Nations and various governments on North Korea and sanctions issues since 1992. Lopez also proposes a set of directions for getting out of this conflict — directions that favor diplomacy over military force. What American leaders fail to understand, he says, is that they can’t scare North Korea by threatening war.

How is the Trump administration’s approach to North Korea so far different from what past administrations have done?

A couple things come to mind. One is that if you accept the notion of many of the pundits, that this administration’s foreign policy tends to be reactionary to the events of the moment, Mr. Trump was in the unenviable position of being the earliest U.S. president to face a direct violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions — with North Korea’s recent missile tests. He had it dumped in his lap right away.

Some recent reports say this should not be a surprise, because Obama’s people told Trump’s top foreign-policy people this was their biggest worry. Obama seems to have told Trump in their one-on-one meeting that North Korea was going to be Trump’s biggest dilemma and that he needed a regional approach to it.

Second, this is a president who, unlike prior presidents, has really surrounded himself with current or former military people, and who prides himself on saying, “The era of the gloves being on and restraining our military is over. In order to make America great again, we’re going to flex our muscles and use the resources we have, instead of keeping our hands in our pockets.” Then this week, the administration used what many would call a prohibited weapon in the Afghan theater, and it has also launched these strikes on Syria.

The timing of both those seemed pointed.

I think it was not without some delight in the White House that there was a secondary messaging effect to North Korea. These actions went in conjunction with the U.S. moving a small Navy brigade to the Korean Peninsula, and also with Trump’s meeting and phone calls with the Chinese president, to signal that our patience is running out.

Meanwhile, it’s unclear who is the Asia expert most influential in the White House’s national security staff, and the last time I checked the State Department chart, we still didn’t have a fully staffed Bureau of Asian Affairs. Have we seen, in any pronouncement where he’s talked about North Korea, anybody other than Jared Kushner, the vice-president, H.R. McMaster, or James Mattis at his side? No.

That gives many of us pause, because he’s not getting enough information about the way North Korea sees the actions he’s taken. So we’re in a kind of fog of actions in search of a strategy and a policy. I think it’s part of this administration’s style to make some big decisions as they go along, as events and opportunities and constraints present themselves. The difference here is that you’re talking about the potential for war, and I don’t sense an understanding of the gravity of that.

What do you think the administration’s philosophy is, to the extent that it has one?

It’s a belief that we’ve been weak-minded in regard to North Korea, that we’ve been continually undermined by them, and we’re at least going to show strength of will. On one hand, on the campaign trail, the president said, “I think I could sit down directly with this guy, and in ten or 15 minutes, we’ll see how far we can get.” It was “Trump as the great negotiator.” But we didn’t hear any of that after the inauguration.

Instead, what we’ve gotten follows a different theme you heard on the campaign trail: “My administration isn’t going to tie the hands of the military. We are not going to back down from any threats from places like North Korea. We’re going to solve problems with or without the Chinese.” However, this seems to sideline Japan and North Korea — our two most critical allies. We have no idea whether or not, when the Japanese prime minister visited Mar-a-Lago, North Korea came up in conversation.

You’ll notice that a tendency of this administration is to say, before every visit from a foreign dignitary — whether it’s Angela Merkel, from Germany, or Xi Jinping, from China, or Shinzo Abe, from Japan — “There’s going to be a lot of serious talking about issues.” But then we’re told after the fact, “It was a good get-to-know-you meeting.” You don’t have the detailed agenda that was discussed at the meeting, or information on what joint task forces were set up by each nation to move ahead with problems that were to be mutually explored.

Ideally, what role would our allies in the region be playing?

Well, one strategy that a group of us have advocated over the last couple weeks is to say, “Military force is so crazy to think about, the next best option is financial bankruptcy and economic strangulation.” That is, if you want to take the gloves off, take the gloves off in the trading and financial sector. Take a lesson from the tightening of the noose around Iran, and go after commodities, go after general trade sectors. You absolutely implement the top five or six recommendations of the U.N. Panel of Experts, which would hold all states in the Asian region responsible for ending corresponding banking accounts with not only North Korean banks, but with the shadow companies they’ve set up in Malaysia and China and elsewhere.

China needs to get tighter with the financial actors within its country who continue to sustain unabated channels to illicit financing for North Korea. There are a series of draconian financial measures that then get the attention of the great young dictator, and you can say, “The next move is yours. Do we talk or not?” But what this administration has done is put us in an all-or-nothing bind. Either he blinks or we blink.

If I’m an adviser to Kim Jong-un right now, and I know I could be assassinated if I seem weak and counterproductive, I’m going to say, “Look, you were right. We should do a nuclear test. But you know what? A nuclear test might invite too much response from them. Let’s shoot off one of the missiles and see if they try to shoot it down.” So, if the notion in the White House is, “By god, we go it alone, we issue the ultimatums, we tell ’em we might go it alone, we put out the strike force” — and then the test goes on, and we get louder, and we wag our finger more, we show them that in fact we don’t have a policy in mind.

How does all this look from North Korea’s point of view? And what prompted them to threaten, on Friday, that they’d launch a military strike against U.S. military posts in South Korea?

This pushes us to an area of speculation. For a year, on the U.N. Panel of Experts, I had colleagues who spent 20 hours a day trying to dissect the North Korean leader’s mind. And that’s like being a baseball player: If you hit .333, if you get one out of every three guesses right, you’re a superstar. So I can’t pretend to fully know the way they look at the world.

But the issuing of the threat against South Korea is a smart approach that says, “Well, let’s talk militarily. You could knock out our nuclear sites, but you can’t knock out the 175 major artillery batteries we have, poised to shoot at the minute we detect that we’re being attacked — and those can knock out 80 percent of Seoul. So the blood will be on your hands if you choose to initiate an attack against our nuclear sites.” In other words, “You’re not the only people who can issue ultimatums, and you’re not the only people who have military deliverables that are supposed to make us quake and fear that we must change our behavior.”

So, is issuing the threat just a way of reminding us that they have these capabilities?

Yes. Absolutely. And in particular, reminding the South Koreans and everyone else in the neighborhood.

This regime has had an ideology, through three generations, that the war of liberation of South Korea will come when the United States oversteps its boundaries. And remember, they don’t have a peace treaty with the United States. If they were interested in peace, they would be proactive in coming back to the bargaining table and finishing off the armistice agreement from 1953.

This isn’t Syria. This isn’t Afghanistan. This is the point at which, if a U.S. missile crosses into North Korean territory, all bets on everything are off. It fits their worldview, that sooner or later, they will have to fire everything they have. That’s the only way the North could potentially survive an exchange.

So, as part of their long-term vision, they think a very violent standoff is inevitable?

I wouldn’t say inevitable, but they think it’s highly likely, which is why they’ve been preparing for it for more than 40 years. When they hear talk about a U.S. strike being imminent, their trigger fingers get tighter. So I think we need a U.S. policy that doesn’t put them in a position where their trigger fingers get nervous. You have to deal with the nuclear weapons and the missiles on their own terms, and you can’t use the potential for war against them as leverage.

Because they’re not afraid of it.

Yes! They’re ready for war.

Could you explain the holiday that was marked on Saturday, the Day of the Sun? There was some speculation that North Korea would honor the day with a nuclear test.

The seriousness of the holiday can’t be exaggerated. We have no equivalent in the United States — even at, let’s say, the 200th anniversary of our independence. This is a nation with a cult of the singular leader. You could even say, from a Western point of view, “Okay, for the 100th anniversary, I’d understand a big bang. But the 105th? That’s not really a big deal, is it?” Yes. Every anniversary of the birth of the founder of the great nation — who then gave us his prodigy, his son and his grandson, who are great rulers — is the ultimate big deal. And this particular leadership, under the grandson, has not only continued to cultivate himself as the most perfect of leaders, in the image of his grandfather, but he’s upped the ante for each and every anniversary, to demonstrate what they call the shogun mentality — which is, military first, pulling the entire nation to great development on the world stage.

They’ve said they could destroy the major American military bases in the U.S. “within minutes.” Do you think that’s true?

No, there’s nothing I’ve seen that shows they have the capability. Do they have the capability to hit our Navy’s strike force? They probably do. But I’d suggest that if North Korea launches an attack on the strike force, probably two or three missiles would hit. That’s what I think their capability level is.

You said several years ago that with co-operation from China, we could choke off the supply of materials North Korea would need to enrich uranium. Where does that proposal stand now?

The error of our ways from about 2006 to 2013 is that we thought, “Let’s choke off the materials that let them build centrifuges and the like.” When what we should have been doing, and we absolutely have to do as our last-ditch effort now, is, we have to end their access to money — in all forms. We have to end the access of Korean diplomats marching off with big duffle bags, pretending they’re off to go play golf in Poland, when what they’re really doing is carrying gold bars and loads of cash, which ultimately goes to fund the various services that run the missiles. And you do need China’s help for that. Right now, China is looking the other way.

This was the victory of the Iran sanctions: There was no outlet, any longer, for illicit activities. Not in Lebanon, not in Cyprus, not in any of the traditional areas. And that net became a noose and really shut off everything. We need that on North Korea. It’s possible to attain it, but you can only attain it with a large amount of co-operation from all the banking industries involved, and with a determination of what an 18-month plan will be. Once they cry financial “Uncle!” what are you proposing for them? Starve and die? Or are you proposing, “Now maybe we should reinvigorate the diplomatic discussions that were going on in the mid-2000s?”

Ultimately we’re looking for a full peace treaty that can be signed by all parties, including the United States. Some recognition of nonaggression against North Korea can be the great Western concession, in exchange for x — whether x is a complete stabilization of their weapons programs, with no more development, or something else. I think our days of being able to bargain for, or strangle for, denuclearization is over. If you’re Kim Jong-un, you’ve looked at Saddam, you’ve looked at Syria, you’ve looked at all these other examples, and said, “These poor dumb dictators. They were attacked because they didn’t have the weapon.”

Sure. If you were in his position you’d never give that up.

Of course not. Even if the president of the United States came off a plane, landed in Pyongyang, and kissed the ground, saying, “It’s great to be here. There’s peace between our nations” — there would be nothing in their experience or ideology that would lead them to believe that tomorrow they wouldn’t be attacked.

What do you think the odds are of China actually getting onboard and helping with that kind of plan?

I think China has been onboard in lots and lots of areas. It’s looking for a little more empathy in understanding how hard it is for them to police their own economy. But I think that consistent with the anti-corruption theme that’s going on in China, they could do this. At the same time, we don’t improve their leverage or influence on Pyongyang if Pyongyang continues to believe that we prefer the military option. Then they look at the Chinese and say, “You are a weak enabler. You will allow the peninsula to go up in flames, simply because you’re not willing to stand up to the United States and tell them the military is not an option.”

Now if you look at the reporting in the official Chinese press, they’ve been saying for the last week, “We’re trying to convince Mr. Trump the military is not an option here.” But they’re not getting any help from the Trump administration.

But financial sanctions would be part of a longer-term solution, and there’s a prospect right now of very imminent violence. What’s the best way out of this immediate situation?

The best way out is to tell the folks in command of the brigade of ships, “Keep your powder dry no matter what happens, unless you’re directly attacked.” Also for the United States to be preparing multiple statements, with our allies in the region, at the U.N. Security Council, and out of Mar-a-Lago, of what we’re going to say when a nuclear-missile launch has occurred, or if a new nuclear test goes on. We’ve got to make sure our president doesn’t approach the microphone and says, “That’s the last straw. I’m taking actions in the next 48 hours, and they’ll never know what I’m going to do until I do it.” You can’t have that. In other words, someone needs to lasso him, quite frankly, and make sure we have a clearly articulated dynamic.

We think we can intimidate the North Korean leadership into keeping their powder dry. What we’re doing, more than anything else, is playing into their ongoing scenario of a likely, if not inevitable, confrontation with the West.

It seems like that’s the most fundamental error: to think we can scare them off with the threat of war.

Yeah. And if things really, really go badly here, people are going to be reading the history books, 25 years from now, and saying, “How could they not have known? How could they not have known these were North Korea’s thoughts?”

If you’re going to use as your calculus of success or failure, of an unarticulated policy, who blinks first, you’re on really, really shaky ground.

Spotify executive dies in Stockholm terror attack…

chris bevington

VIA

Chris Bevington, an executive at Spotify, was among the victims killed in Friday’s truck attack in Stockholm, the streaming service’s founder, Daniel Ek, confirmed with a Facebook post on Sunday.

“It is with shock and a heavy heart that I can confirm that Chris Bevington from our Spotify team lost his life in Friday’s senseless attack on Stockholm,” Ek wrote.

Bevington had worked with the company for five years, Ek noted in the post. The British 41-year-old had served as Spotify’s director of global partnerships/business development, working from Stockholm.

In a statement to the BBC, Bevington’s father, John, said, “We are all devastated by the untimely and tragic death of our talented, compassionate and caring son Chris. A wonderful husband, son, father, brother and close friend to many.”

On Friday, four people were killed and about 15 more were injured when a truck plowed through a shopping area in the heart of Sweden’s capital. According to CNN, a suspect — a 39-year-old man from Uzbekistan — was arrested hours after the attack on suspicion of terrorism offenses. A second suspect was also reportedly placed under arrest on Sunday in connection with the attack.

In addition to Bevington, the victims were identified as a Belgian and two Swedes, one of which was an 11-year-old girl, according to the Guardian.

Donald Trump owns stock in the Tomahawk missiles he used in Syria…

VIA

Donald Trump’s financial entanglements have been the focus of consistent controversy since he took office. He claimed he was putting his assets in a “blind trust” which was later revealed not to be one. He’s also been accused of using his office to enrich his hotels. But we’ve now reached the phase where Trump has ordered military action which has given direct financial benefit to a company that he owns stock in.

Last night Donald Trump fired fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base. But according to the Washington Post, they were a poor choice of weaponry under the circumstances, because Russia has S-400 surface to air defense technology in place in Syria which could easily have shot them down. In addition, Reuters is reporting that the Syrian air base was barely harmed, and is already back to operational capacity today, because the Tomahawks were aimed at the least important targets on the base.

This means that Trump went with the wrong weaponry when he ordered the Tomahawk attack (his military advisers would have explained this to him), and he used the missiles merely put on a show for TV viewers at home, rather than doing any real damage. In other words Trump just set a bunch of Tomahawk missiles on fire which, according to a recent Defense Department report, may have been worth as much as $93.8 million in total. Why would he do this? Well, he does own shares of stock in the company that makes the Tomahawks.

Tomahawk missiles are manufactured by Raytheon Inc., and according to this report from Business Insider, Donald Trump owned stock in Raytheon up through at least the start of the presidential election cycle. There is no record that he subsequently sold that stock. The Tomahawks that Trump just burned up will have to be replaced, meaning he just handed a nearly hundred million dollar payday to a company he owns stock in. Not surprisingly, shares of Raytheon spiked today, meaning he’s directly profiting from his Syria attack. And again, it appears the Tomahawks were not the ideal choice of weaponry for the Syria attack.