There are two parts to this article. Part one was written before the recent wave of Mueller-FBI demotion, retirement, and reassignment among key personnel. Part one is a kind of roadmap for whistleblower groups. A way to succeed. Part two comments on the extraordinary ‘downsizing’ of Mueller-FBI personnel, and its possible connection to FBI whistleblowers within the Bureau. To paraphrase the Ben Bradlee character in the film, All the President’s Men, nothing much is riding on the Mueller investigation, except the presidency; the role of the mainstream press in politicizing and editorializing its coverage of the White House; the immediate future of US-Russia relations; the future of the Clintons in politics; and the intervention of the Surveillance State in the day-to-day activities of a president and his team. PART ONE Did the gunslinger Trump collude with Putin in a secret underground cave, thus placing Hillary on a cross of pain? Did the Clinton Foundation make slimy palm-greasing deals all over the world with high-level crooks and launder their money? Will the knight-puppet Robert Mueller uncover any part of the truth? Will His Excellency, Jeff Sessions, stir from his self-induced narcosis, look around, and find out what’s going on? – We’ve heard a certain tune before: Honorable government employees will soon expose the crimes of such-and-so, they’ll present the evidence and testimony, and they’ll bring down the house on the heads of corrupt agencies. And then…it doesn’t happen.
Deteriorating public finances in many public cities are creating headaches for some of the country’s largest police departments. The City of Dallas, as we’ve pointed out time and time again, is in a particularly difficult position. The Dallas Police & Fire Pension (DPFP), which covers nearly 10,000 police and firefighters, is on the verge of collapse as its board and the city struggle to pitch benefit cuts to save the plan from complete failure. The implosion of the fund left active-duty Dallas police and firemen wondering whether that pension check they had been counting on to fund their retirement was about disappear for good. All of which sparked a mass exodus of Dallas police and firefighters eager to lock in their payout rates before they were slashed by the DPFP board. A record 72 officers decided to quit the force in July, despite a plan wending its way through the Texas state legislature that would help ‘save’ the pension fund.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 17, 2017.
Light bulb goes off for former top CIA official: Maybe it wasn't a great idea to leak against, bash a new president. From @sbg1: pic.twitter.com/nPAe8ePwCg — Byron York (@ByronYork) December 11, 2017
An ex-spy chief who spoke out publicly against Trump while inspiring other career intelligence figures to follow suit has admitted his leading role in the intelligence community waging political war against the president, describing his actions as something he didn’t “fully think through”. In a surprisingly frank interview, the CIA’s Michael Morell – who was longtime Deputy Director and former Acting Director of the nation’s most powerful intelligence agency – said that it wasn’t a great idea to leak against and bash a new president. Morell had the dubious distinction of being George W. Bush’s personal daily briefer for the agency before and after 9/11, and also served under Obama until his retirement. In the summer of 2016 he took the unusual step (for a former intelligence chief) of openly endorsing Hillary Clinton in a New York Times op-ed entitled, I Ran the C. I. A. Now I’m Endorsing Hillary Clinton, after which he continued to be both an outspoken critic of Trump and an early CIA voice promoting the Russian collusion and election meddling narrative. As Politico’s Susan Glasser put in a newly published interview, Morell “has emerged out of the shadows of the deep state”to become one of Trump’s foremost critics speaking within the intel community. However, Politico summarizes the interview as follows:
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.
The 84-year-old Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg has put her foot down. She is not stepping down from her position on the Supreme Court anytime soon. Ginsburg has been the subject of rumors that have said the octogenarian would retire during Donald Trump’s tenure as president, leaving an empty spot for him to fill. Ginsburg, also known as the ‘Notorious R. B. G’ among her supporters, has served on the court for 24 years since former President Bill Clinton appointed her in 1993. When asked Friday whether or not she was contemplating retirement, Ginsburg said: ‘My answer is as long as I can do the job full steam, I will do it.’ The 84-year-old justice was talking to US Appeals Court Judge Ann Williams at an event sponsored by Equal Justice Works. Ginsburg may have quite a different opinion from others on what ‘full steam’ means, considering she fell asleep during liberal hero Barack Obama’s state of the union address.
This post was published at shtfplan on October 31st, 2017.
The ‘Wall Street Democrats’ is the wing of the party created by the Clintons and nurtured further by Barack Obama. It takes money hand over fist from Wall Street for political campaigns, wags a warning finger at Wall Street from the public podium while stuffing its administrations with Wall Street execs, then its leadership reaps millions of dollars in personal speaking fees from the robber barons after leaving office. As of this morning, there’s no longer any debate that Obama is firmly entrenched in this cozy world of money. Bloomberg News is reporting that former President Obama has accepted upwards of $400,000 a clip to speak before Wall Street firms Northern Trust Corp. and Cantor Fitzgerald and an unspecified sum from Carlyle Group LP. The speeches at Northern Trust and Carlyle Group occurred over the past month and a half. The Cantor Fitzgerald speech is scheduled for next week. Adding to the intrigue, Obama’s future roster of private speeches to Wall Street banks is not available for public inspection. Equally problematic, while it was widely reported in February that Obama has signed with the Harry Walker Agency to represent him for speaking engagements, that agency showcases Bill and Hillary Clinton in its 2017 Speakers Bureau brochure while Obama goes missing. Adding to the curiosity, which went unreported in the Bloomberg article, the Twitter account for the Harry Walker Agency is promoting appearances by its other speakers from Obama’s administration (it represents a stable full) but when we went back months on its Twitter account, we found no mention of Obama’s private speeches that have already occurred since he left office.
Solutions abound, but they require the retirement of obsolete systems that defend entrenched interests and soul-crushing inequalities. It turns out Nero wasn’t fiddling as Rome burned–he was 60 km away at the time. Did Nero Really Fiddle While Rome Burned? The story has become short-hand for making light of a catastrophe, either out of self-interest (one theory had Nero clearing a site he desired for a palace with the fire) or out of a mad detachment from reality. *** Are we fiddling while Rome burns? I would say yes–because we’re not solving any of the structural problems that are dooming the status quo. Instead, we’re allowing a corrupt, corporate mainstream media to distract us with fake “Russians hacked our election” hysteria, false “cultural war” mania, and a laughably Orwellian frenzy over fake news which magically avoids mentioning the propaganda narrativespushed 24/7 by the mainstream media–narratives that are the acme of fake news.
Though Western media and much of the entire world have long forgotten about Libya, we never will. While the Nobel Peace Prize winning “humanitarian” minded architect of the 2011 US-NATO intervention (and author of Libya’s current hell) continues to pen his presidential memoir in the midst of an epic retirement tour of yachts, golf courses, and hidden celebrity islands, Libya still burns out of control. As we’ve recently noted, the mass flow of migrants and asylum seeking refugees is not going away and remains a political flashpoint for European front line countries reeling from the immigrant wave. In an updated situation report on Libya issued earlier this summer, the United Nation’s World Food Program (WFP) published some shocking numbers: Civilians in Libya continue to suffer as a result of conflict, insecurity, political instability and a collapsing economy. According to the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan, 1.3 million people are in need of emergency humanitarian assistance.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Aug 3, 2017.
The Vice-President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, escalated the diplomatic row between Brussels and Warsaw on Wednesday when he said that the EU was launching legal infringement proceedings and giving Warsaw a one month ultimatum over one of the recently passed reforms to Poland’s court system, even as earlier in the week Poland’s president Andrzej Duda vetoed two of the four controversial reforms to the judiciary. The EU has taken issue with one particular legislation because it introduces different retirement ages for male and female judges, which the Commission claims is a breach of EU anti-discrimination law. The law would see female judges retire at 60 and males at 65. As a result, Timmermans gave Warsaw a one month ultimatum to alleviate its concerns over the rule of law before deciding on whether it would “escalate proceedings.” Timmermans also said the approval of the remaining measures still undermined the independence of the country’s judges in defiance of EU law. Brussels also sent a set of recommendations to Poland threatening that the country’s voting rights could be suspended – under Article 7 of the EU treaty – if certain changes are implemented. Specifically, Polish authorities are warned not to take any measure to dismiss or force the retirement of Supreme Court judges.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 26, 2017.
Qatar has been known for years as a small peninsula nation that punches far above its weight. Its immense oil wealth and enormous influence, through its English- and Arabic-language Al Jazeera channels, have given it diplomatic clout across the Arab world. Its soft power has been felt in negotiations in Darfur, Tripoli, Sanaa and elsewhere. Everywhere it has been either admired or envied. Now Qatar is on its back feet, fighting off criticism from all sides. Qatar’s candidate to run UNESCO is now almost certain to lose; a few months earlier, he was the frontrunner. Activists are pressing FIFA to bar Qatar from hosting the World Cup. Pressure is mounting to close the U. S. air base in Qatar; U. S. Air Force general Charles Wald, who opened the base in 2001, is now, in retirement, publicly calling for its closure. A coalition of thirty-four thousand predominantly African American churches protested Qatar in Washington, DC, on June 28, citing Qatar’s persecution of Christians, Jews and other religious minorities. (Qatar bans crosses on the outside of churches and bars public prayer by Christians, even though there may be more Christians in the country than the three hundred thousand native Qataris.) The protest, outside Qatar’s embassy at Twenty-Fifth and M Streets, is the first-ever public demonstration against Qatar in Washington. It won’t be the last. Even more dramatically, Qatar’s neighbors and allies have turned against it. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have cut diplomatic ties with Qatar and closed their air and sea ports to Qatar’s planes and ships. The Arab-language media is full of venom directed at Qatar. Now it is either pitied or feared. What happened? Qatar was found to be funding the enemies of America and its Arab allies. Washington policymakers are concerned that Qatar has funded, according to the U. S. State department, Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria as well as elements of ISIS – the very groups America is bombing in its campaign to liberate northern Iraq. It also supports Hamas, which both the United States and EU have designated as a terrorist organization. Bahrain believes that Qatar is supporting armed opposition groups against its royal family. The Saudis fault Qatar’s financial support to the Yemen-based Houthi rebels (opposed to the Saudi regime) as well as Qatar’s backing for violent opposition groups in the Saudi province of Al Qatif, which is mostly Shia.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 2, 2017.
Two days ago, when reporting on the surprising “terrorist attempt” by Iran’s National Guard on a major Saudi offshore oilfiled (at least according to Saudi media), we said that “if the Saudi account of events is accurate, and if Iran is indeed preparing to take out Saudi oil infrastructure in retaliation or otherwise, the simmering cold war between Saudi Arabia and Iran is about to get very hot.” This in turn followed an earlier analysis on the ongoing Syrian war in which we said that “the next major regional conflict appears set to be between Saudi Arabia and Iran. All it needs is a catalyst.” That catalyst, according to energy consultancy Petromatrix, may have been revealed overnight with the stunning Saudi royal shakeup in which the King announced he was stripping the current Crown Prince, his nephew Mohamed bin Nayef (MBF), of all titles and obligations, and replacing him with his son Mohamed bin Salman (MBS). Summarizing the event, Petromatrix analyst Olivier Jakob wrote that “the day starts with the Saudi Crown Prince sent to retirement and replaced by the deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS). MBS was already the strong hand in Saudi Arabia, this latest development, and the purge that goes with it, confirms that he is the de-facto king of Saudi Arabia. Under his watch, Saudi Arabia has developed aggressive foreign policies (Yemen, Qatar…) and he has not been shy about making strong statements against Iran.” The punchline: “with MBS now having greater control of Saudi Arabia and with Jared Kushner having a large control of the White House it is not really a question of if but rather of when a new escalation with Iran starts.” Jakob wasn’t the only one to react strongly to the Saudi royal shakeup. Below, courtsy of Bloomberg, are several other notable reactions:
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 21, 2017.
How do I despise thee, O Congress? Let me count the ways. Don’t take my word for it: 75% of Americans disapprove of the job our representatives are doing. It’s things like this that explain why: Whilst only about 13% of U. S. employees nationwide enjoy a retirement fund that assures stable, lifelong income, all 535 members of Congress do … courtesy of Uncle Sam. *** Members of Congress participate in the Federal Employees Retirement System, which provides pension benefits of which most American workers can only dream. Private retirement savers often pay management fees that can exceed 1% annually on lousy investment choices. Members of Congress pay a maximum of 0.039% for funds guaranteed to match the market.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 17, 2017.
Podesta: "I'm definitely for making an example of a suspected leaker whether or not we have any real basis for it." pic.twitter.com/qQ9tO2aimY — WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) October 30, 2016
It’s been close to a year since Seth Rich, the 27 year old computer expert who worked for the DNC, was murdered – shot twice in the back without anything of value taken from him. Rich was found alive and in shock before he bled out – his death ruled nothing more than a botched robbery. Many believe Rich was a victim retaliation for being the source who provided Wikileaks with a trove of DNC emails. Rumors were fueled by the odd circumstances surrounding his death, the sudden retirement of D. C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier five weeks after the murder, and an email John Podesta sent to Hillary’s inner circle about making an example of a suspected leaker. In the aftermath of the shooting, the Rich family hired a private investigator – Rich Wheeler, a former D. C. homicide detective who says evidence on Seth Rich’s laptop suggests he was in contact with WikiLeaks prior to his death. Of note, Wheeler does not have possession of the laptop in question – however he said specific information will be released on Tuesday (5/16). Furthermore, Wheeler believes there has been a cover-up:
This post was published at Zero Hedge on May 16, 2017.
One of the first policy questions that came up after Donald Trump won the Nov. 8 presidential election was what would happen to the U. S. Department of Labor (DOL) fiduciary rule. Recent action from President Trump intended to give us that answer – but instead left us with conflicting details… The DOL’s fiduciary rule requires particular financial advisers who handle retirement accounts to ‘act in their client’s best interest.’ It’s set to start April 10, 2017. It stems from a February 2015 request from then President Barack Obama to update the rules to be fairer for clients. [Go here to read about the difference between acting in a client’s best interest and the standard brokers are held to now…] Donald Trump, during his campaign, called to halt or dismantle the DOL’s fiduciary rule. It was part of his push to ban new regulations from federal agencies. This critique was further pushed by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), who has criticized the fiduciary rule’s complexity and cost to small retirement savers. And according to the Director of Investor Protection at the Consumer Federation of America, Barbara Roper, the Republican-led Congress will ‘try and make good on its threat to repeal the rule.’ That was three months ago. So where are we now?
On Friday the country’s attention was glued to the brave Seattle federal judge who overturned the Trump immigration ban. But that same day, the president was closeted with the very people he denounced in his faux-populist campaign: the Wall Street elite. He welcomed Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JP Morgan, one of the biggest global banks, and Larry Fink of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset management firm. He had an enormous gift for them: the undoing of the Dodd-Frank financial regulations that were passed to protect consumers after the 2008 financial meltdown but were deemed overly burdensome by the bankers. Dodd-Frank made it harder for the banks to dream up all those fancy financial instruments like credit default swaps featured in books and films like The Big Short and Too Big to Fail. The law curtailed the shenanigans that cost people their homes, wiped out their retirement savings and almost caused a depression. The banks and private equity firms were now free to get creative again, Trump’s new order said. And there was more. The Obama administration ‘fiduciary rule’, much hated by Wall Street, would be rolled back. The rule protected retirees from conflicts by stockbrokers. With the rule gone, it will be the stockbrokers who are protected. The White House message was unmistakable: Happy days are here again.
The House continued to dismantle Obama’s legacy one item at a time, when on Thursday it struck down regulations that blocked gun ownership by some who have been deemed mentally impaired by the Social Security Administration. The House voted 235-180 along party lines Thursday to repeal an Obama-era rule requiring the Social Security Administration to send records of some beneficiaries to the federal firearms background check system after they’ve been deemed mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs. The database is used to determine eligibility for buying a firearm. The rule, when implemented, would affect about 75,000 recipients of disability insurance and supplemental insurance income who require a representative to manage their benefits because of a disabling mental disorder, ranging from anxiety to schizophrenia. It applies to those between age 18 and full retirement age. Critics said the rule stripped Second Amendment rights from people who are not dangerously mentally ill, such as those who have eating disorders or mental disorders that prevent them from managing their own finances. ‘This is a slap in the face for those in the disabled community because it paints all those who suffer from mental disorders with the same broad brush,’ said House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va. ‘It assumes that simply because an individual suffers from a mental condition, that individual is unfit to exercise his or her Second Amendment rights.’ Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, called the Social Security regulation ‘reckless, overly broad and an affront to the Second Amendment rights of people with disabilities.” He introduced an identical resolution to reverse it in the Senate on Thursday with 25 Republican co-sponsors, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Feb 2, 2017.
Last week, Dallas Mayor Michael Rawlings sent a scathing letter to the Dallas Police and Fire Pension (DPFP) Board demanded that withdrawals be halted immediately until the “solvency and actuarial soundness of the Pension System is restored.” That said, the Mayor’s request was seemingly ignored as he has now filed a lawsuit with the Dallas District Court to force the pension board to halt withdrawals amid a “run on the bank.” Within the suit, Rawlings notes that $500 million in lump-sum withdrawals have been made from the DPFP since August 2016 with $80 million of that amount being withdrawn in the first 2 weeks of November alone. The suit continues on to allege that “this mass exodus of DROP funds amounts to a ‘run on the bank’ and is exacerbating the financial peril of the Pension System as a whole.” In performing these ministerial duties, the Board has a duty to ensure that programs, such as the Pension System’s optional Deferred Retirement Option Plan (‘DROP’), which is not a constitutionally protected benefit (or ‘benefit’ at all), do not impair or reduce the Pension System’s core constitutionally protected benefits, e.g., service retirement benefits. The Board is willfully failing to perform these ministerial duties. The Pension System, which the Board oversees, is in the midst of a financial crisis. In early 2016, the Board was warned by its own actuary that absent radical change, the Pension System would become insolvent within 15 years – irrevocably eradicating the constitutionally protected service retirement benefits (and other constitutionally protected benefits) of police and firefighter personnel of the City and their beneficiaries.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 6, 2016.
In 2008, with Republicans having been handed a massive defeat that resulted in Democrat control of all three branches of government in Washington D. C., George W. Bush decided to do the honorable thing by bowing to the will of the people and vowing not to publicly criticize the new President-elect. Now, 8 years later, President Obama finds himself in the exact same position as the American people have dealt his “legacy” a massive blow by handing Republicans total control of Congress and the White House. But, unlike Bush, who had the humility to accept the will of the electorate, according to the New York Times, Obama has every intention of sticking around Washington D. C. in his retirement to fight the newly elected president. While White House aides say they expect Obama to try to refrain from criticizing Trump during the transition, Obama himself has indicated that all bets are off once he becomes a “private citizen.” ‘I’m going to be constrained in what I do with all of you until I am again a private citizen,’ Mr. Obama, who will be living a few miles from the White House next year, told a meeting this past week of Organizing for Action, the group that maintains his political movement. ‘But that’s not so far off.’ For Mr. Obama, a return to the partisan fray was never the intention. His library and foundation will serve as a platform for him to travel around the world, confront systemic issues of race relations, and push for technological change aimed at improving society.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 20, 2016.
One of the catalysts behind the surge in bank and financial stocks since the Trump victory, has been the market’s expectation that the new administration will repeal Dodd-Frank, and thus undo years of regulatory hurdles that have prevent banks from engaging in everything from prop trading to levering substantially higher, and have cost them billions in legal fees and settlements. However, the market may be getting ahead of itself. In an interview Sunday on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, drawing a line in the sand for the next administration, said he has the votes to stop President-elect Donald Trump from repealing the Dodd-Frank Act and ‘the rules we put in place to limit Wall Street.’ Schumer, who was picked by Senate Democrats to serve as minority leader following the retirement of Harry Reid, said he expects that the Senate’s Democratic minority would get help from Republicans in a fight to preserve Wall Street regulations: ‘We have 60 votes to block him,’ Schumer calculated.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 20, 2016.
When US dairy farmers worked together to reduce herd numbers – in order to limit supply and boost prices – this was apparently seen as a dangerous and deceptive move. Recently, dairy cooperatives (producers who work together and serve as middlemen between the farms and processors of dairy products) settled a class-action lawsuit for $52 million for working to reduce dairy cattle numbers, which would limit the supply of milk products. Why would farmers do this in the first place? Dairy farms in general are still relatively small and have a meager return on investment, often requiring another source of income off the farm. This is largely due to one main factor: Americans are continuing to consume less and less dairy milk, even though public schools are required to buy it. Add to this the long list of changing consumer preferences seemingly ignored by the industry for many years. The actions by the dairy cooperatives, resulting in the lawsuit in question here, seemed to be doing what was long overdue – responding to consumers. The “herd retirement program” was a joint effort to remove producing animals from farms – often poorly performing ones – to limit supply and boost prices. And, this is apparently what happened as producer prices rose from 2004 to 2008. If you’re wondering what’s wrong with all of this – legally speaking – you have to go back to 1922 when theCapper-Volstead Act was passed. This act was a response to anti-trust legislation and sought to allow producers of agricultural products to form cooperatives and work together to market farm products. So, apparently before this, it was potentially illegal for neighboring farmers to speak to each other and sell their products together. This act also concentrated authority with one person, the US Sectary of Agriculture, who was now able to break up “monopolies”.
‘I find the whole thing astonishing and what’s remarkable is the amount of anger whether it’s on the Republican side or the Democratic side,’ the Wall Street mogul said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. ‘Bernie Sanders, to me, is almost more stunning than some of what’s going on in the Republican side. How is that happening, why is that happening?’ – From January’s post: Billionaire CEO of Blackstone Trolls the American Public – He Doesn’t Get Why People Are Angry David Sirota just penned a very important and interesting article zeroing in on how Wall Street is maneuvering to propose and implement a new retirement tax on Americans under a Hillary Clinton Administration. Leading the charge is billionaire financial oligarch Tony James, who is COO of private equity giant Blackstone. Mr. James is agenerous contributor to Hillary Clinton’s Presidential run, and is listed as a ‘Hillblazer’ by her campaign for having raised at least $100,000 toward her candidacy.