The SEC’s crackdown on ICOs has finally brought it to Hollywood. The agency – which in a ruling issued over the summer legally qualified ICOs as securities – said today that celebrities who endorse token sales might be violating so-called ‘anti-touting’ laws if they don’t state what compensation they received, if any. As we’ve pointed out numerous times, celebrity endorsements of ICOs have become something of a punchline in recent months as Floyd Mayweather, Paris Hilton, Jamie Foxx, Dennis Rodman and many, many others have embraced the trend. *** In some cases, the celebrities apparently experienced a twinge of regret and deleted their endorsements from their social media platforms, like Hilton did with Lydian Coin – a company that has few to recommend it aside from an indecipherable White Paper and a CEO who pled guilty to beating his girlfriend. More broadly, regulators from Canada to China to Singapore are cracking down on ICOs to try and protect gullible investors. Most have taken a similar approach to the SEC by declaring the tokens to be securities subject to securities laws and regulations that generally prohibit outright fraud.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 2, 2017.
As part of the growing private jet (ab)use scandal that has recently rocked the Trump administration, on Friday afternoon the White House announced that Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price offered his resignation and President Trump has accepted, according to the Press Sec. office. Full White House statment below: Statement from the Press Secretary Secretary of Health and Human Services Thomas Price offered his resignation earlier today and the President accepted. The President intends to designate Don J. Wright of Virginia to serve as Acting Secretary, effective at 11:59 p.m. on September 29, 2017. Mr. Wright currently serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Director of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. And here is Price’s full resignation letter:
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Sep 29, 2017.
According to continuing reports from the trenches, buttressed by a Bloomberg News article out today by Neil Weinberg, Wall Street’s largest firms are still firing whistleblowers for having the temerity to bring corrupt conduct to their superiors’ attention – despite whistleblower protection statutes embedded in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. One Dodd-Frank provision expressly prohibits retaliation against whistleblowers and provides whistleblowers legal remedies if they are discharged or retaliated against. Another section provides potentially hefty awards through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) if the whistleblower provides original information leading to a successful enforcement action that results in sanctions of over $1 million. Just this past April, the Board of Barclays, a big player on Wall Street, had to admit that it had hired an outside law firm to investigate its own CEO’s handling of a whistleblower. At the time, Jes Staley had been CEO of Barclays for just 15 months but had formerly spent three decades in executive positions at America’s largest Wall Street bank – JPMorgan Chase. According to the official statement released by Barclays, Staley had gone on the hunt to root out the identity of an internal whistleblower who had sent anonymous letters regarding a colleague. Staley had the audacity to use both an internal security group at the bank and U. S. law enforcement in his effort to unmask the whistleblower. Staley was not fired for his conduct – he was simply given a written reprimand by the Board and had his bonus cut.
The federal government is no match for innovation. This is something lawmakers have always known, and it is the reason state and federal regulations exist. But innovation, by its very nature, will always find a way around those regulations, resulting in the implementation of more regulations for creative minds to learn to evade – which they will. This results in the over-regulation we see in America today. Nothing scares the government more than something it can’t control, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) revealed this week that it is terrified of cryptocurrencies – as well it should be. See, all those lawmakers and bureaucrats sitting around regulating everything depend on taxpayer money to pay their salaries so they can keep writing regulations. Since cryptocurrencies allow people to keep all of their money, this is a big problem for the lawmakers. Soon, people may even start to realize they can buy, sell, and trade freely without any government intervention. The horror.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 30, 2017.
In response to the overnight news that North Korea had conducted its first ever ICBM test – despite both the US and Russia saying the Hwaswong 14 missile launched was at beast an intermediate-range rocket…
… moments ago Sec. State Rex Tillerson issued a statement, in which he said that “testing an ICBM represents a new escalation of the threat to the United States, our allies and partners, the region, and the world.” He said that the “U. S. seeks only the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the end of threatening actions by North Korea. As we, along with others, have made clear, we will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.” The problem is that North Korea is now not only nuclear-armed but, according to today’s events, it is close to being able to deliver the nuclear package to the US. Which is why Tillerson, stopping short of endorsing military action, said that ‘we intend to bring North Korea’s provocative action before the UN Security Council and enact stronger measures to hold the DPRK accountable.” The secretary of state also said that President Trump, and the national security team continued to assess situation.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 4, 2017.
Back in December, the Georgia Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, publicly blasted the Obama administration and the Department of Homeland Security for repeated attempts to hack into his state’s election system. Kemp figured the attempts were nothing more than an effort to expose security flaws in state election systems so that Homeland Security could designate all election systems as “Critical Infrastructure” and seize control in a massive “federal power grab.” Here is a recap from our previous post: Last week we noted a letter from Georgia Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, to the Department of Homeland Security questioning why someone with a DHS IP address (126.96.36.199) had attempted to hack into his state’s election database on November 15, 2016 at 8:43AM. Now, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta, we learn that Georgia’s election systems were actually the target of hacking by DHS on 10 separate occasions. The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office now confirms 10 separate cyberattacks on its network were all traced back to U. S. Department of Homeland Security addresses.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 3, 2017.
Batchelor and Cohen take a reprieve (perhaps welcomed) from the Washington/Trump civil war and shift their attention to troop movements in the Baltic States (NATO) as Canada sends in a rotation contingent, a Ukraine that continues to fester quietly with Poroshenko’s visit to Washington, and more serious, the U.S. shooting down of the Su 22 Syrian jet and an Iranian drone in Syria. The overview is that under Trump, there is no change in the NATO stance in Europe, but vastly deteriorating conditions in Syria even as ISIS is clearly defeated there. The new problems evolving in Syria are about potential problems between the numerous allies on opposite sides that represent a poisonous mix of conflicting agendas over and above what is represented by ISIS. Both pundits are in agreement over this assessment. Cohen begins with his interpretation of the American shoot down of the Syrian jet and quite simply labels it as illegal and an act of war against a sovereign state. But he also notes that the Russians did something interesting. They did not react for two days and then on Monday came out with a statement that Russia would target (radar paint) any non-legitimate aircraft in the region, and should it prove hostile or in non-compliance to orders to leave it would be shot down. The ‘deconfliction’ agreement has therefore died. For Cohen this is yet another incidence of sabotage by the Pentagon/CIA to prevent Trump and Putin negotiating. Cohen assumes this is correct by ‘the pattern of events’ shown for decades between Russia and the USA during cold war events . For this writer we are very close to Russia declaring a ‘no fly zone’ in Syria, and it is very clear that some Americans were caught with surprise and fear at this reaction. The other pattern is that the Russian reaction to these transgressions has always been a degradation of cooperation in Syria. Whether Trump can function with this kind of interference by his opposition without that opposition starting a shooting war is a very real worry. More about this later. The discussion then shifts to Europe and the Ukrainian Crisis. Batchelor maintains that European leadership, the new leaders in the U.K. France, and Germany’s Merkel are two weak to carry on effectively with the Minsk2 Agreement. Enter US Sec. State Tillerson, who advocates dissolving the agreement and having the combatants negotiate a solution for themselves. Cohen then brings up the new American sanctions and discusses how destructively stupid they are. Three European foreign ministers have now threatened to put sanctions on the U.S. if these new U.S. sanctions were passed into law. This is an amazing development and shows the real direction of Europe and Russia – and Washington. Cohen elaborately details these political changes with European leaders.
Russia may have killed ISIS leader Baghdadi (Reuters) About 4,000 more US troops to go to Afghanistan (AP) Insurers Look to Ramp Up Premiums in Health Law Exchanges (WSJ) U. N. envoy urges North Korea to explain why freed U. S. man is in coma (Reuters) Wal-Mart Offers a Refuge for Sellers Tired of Amazon (BBG) Trump to limit Cuba travel, restrict business deals with military: U. S. officials (Reuters) Private-Equity Firms Stand to Benefit From Court’s Curb on SEC (WSJ) The $31 Billion Hole in GE’s Balance Sheet That Keeps Growing (BBG) Facebook Boosts A. I. to Block Terrorist Propaganda (WSJ) Whole Foods CEO Calls Activist Investor ‘Greedy Bastards’ (BBG) Kroger Rattles Nerves in Grocery Section (WSJ) U. S. Exports to Mexico Fall as Uncertainty Over Nafta Lingers (WSJ) Funds pull back from Permian as U. S. shale oil firms go into overdrive (Reuters) The World’s Richest Nation Has Rarely Looked Weaker (BBG) 30 confirmed dead in London high-rise fire (AP) Big Oil Firms Are Exploring a New Frontier in Shale: Profits (WSJ) Facing criticism, British PM to visit London fire victims (Reuters) Pimco’s New Bond King Is Nothing Like Bill Gross (WSJ) U. S. accuses Chinese company of money-laundering for North Korea (Reuters) Overnight Media Digest WSJ – Nestl SA put its U. S. confectionery business up for sale, looking to shed its Butterfinger and Crunch candy bars as it grapples with how to cater to U. S. consumers’ increasing demand for healthy snacks. on.wsj.com/2rC2Cpy – Pressure on U. S. grocers increased after a lower earnings forecast from Kroger Co sent shares in the nation’s biggest supermarket chain down 19 percent. on.wsj.com/2rCl7dt
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 16, 2017.
If anyone gave any credibility to what came out of the mouth of United States officials before, the Trump administration has done everything possible to eliminate what was left of America’s reputation on the world stage. What is even more concerning, however, is that the statements made by the United States are no longer couched in nuance hidden between the lines but are now open statements of intended aggression and obvious preparation for the next military assault. Such is the type of statement coming from Defense Secretary James Mattis who recently made the claim that the Syrian government not only used chemical weapons in Khan Sheikhoun (a widely discredited claim in its own right) but that it continues to possess those weapons. The insinuation from the Defense Secretary is that the Syrian government is planning on using those weapons in the near future.
What a week it has been! Batchelor introduces it as a shift from the ‘McCarthyism” circus over Russian subversion in the USA to the real military/diplomatic crisis with Russia in Syria. Damage control is heard from Sec. Defense, Mattis assuring that events with Russia ‘will not spiral out of control’, and Sec. State, Tillerson has now spoken with Russian Foreign Minister and (belatedly) we now understand with Putin on Wednesday. We have often heard Cohen state that today’s New Cold War is more dangerous than the previous one and in this podcast, he states that Syria has failed as the new Cuban Missile Crisis. And there is a new narrative of proof surfacing against Assad using gas against civilians in the form a formal report from ‘intelligence’ sources – as credible as all these reports of late. Cohen explains in detail how there was no motive for Assad to use gas, but a very real one for Washington to accuse him of using it. But, as Cohen states, Washington knows that the U.N. saw to and documented the destruction of Assad’s poison gas supplies (except those in ISIS held territory), and one can see that the pattern of stating falsehoods and basing American foreign policy responses on them is still very much alive. How can any country work diplomatically with a Washington that does this? This is Russia’s problem in most basic terms. We should again be reminded that political in fighting in Washington has the same format as foundation for its geopolitical policies – falsehoods and accusations. The Deep State wants Trump gone. Period. It seems to matter not how ludicrous the process looks. The Russian point of view is next examined. Batchelor opens with: The Russians have now stated ‘any more missile attacks will be unacceptable’. Was the missile attack done before the U.N. could be moved to investigate the gas attack? (Why would Trump, while in the company of the Chinese leadership have authorized the missile attack when this would have been profoundly humiliating to the Chinese?) In Russia the pro U.S. faction element in Russian politics has also been profoundly altered. To add weight to the seriousness of these consequences for Washington, Putin maintained the false flag argument by stating that their intelligence resources had found the evidence. And most worrisome, Cohen then stated, most significantly, that a red line had been crossed, and some profound changes will happen in Syria to ensure protection for its allies. Readers are urged to listen to this discussion for the details. It defies belief that Trump could be this misguided to use missiles in Syria to relieve political attacks on him in Washington. But this is what the Kremlin believes too. Cohen mentions the word ‘psychosis’ to describe the American motives in this. It is a good word to use. A point not discussed is that while Trump may have done this attack for shallow political purposes, it was unconstitutional (no congressional debate) and may have given his adversaries some ammunition to impeach him in the future. He is now also a major war criminal.
Batchelor this week begins with an interesting discussion of how Joe McCarthy was finally considered a threat to the Eisenhower presidency as his power base grew. McCarthy’s goal was to be a very viable presidential candidate and he was succeeding. Cohen finds this interesting in that Russians would call McCarthyism a “living history” event and uses the introduction to compare the Russian experience to the American counterpart. The Soviet system eventually did moderate and became less invasive after Stalin’s reign of abuses, but censorship in the Russian media was the norm (almost to the end of the Soviet Era) and Cohen finds the present controls in the US MSM very similar to those extremes. Cohen also muses that dtente efforts may have been serious problems for other presidents. But this time around the goals of the new McCarthyism are geared to both destroying dtente and a president. And, Cohen remarks, for those who depend on the MSM for their news it is working. How were the Soviet “efforts to safeguard its orthodoxy and preserve its narrative similar or different from the present state of the American MSM? Cohen maintains there were some close similarities. Some of these mutual efforts are obvious – like exclusion of alternate points of view – in US mainstream print media. Suppression of dissidents (Andrei Dmitrievich Sackharov is a Soviet example) is also in play in the United States with labels such as “Putin Apologists” who find themselves stigmatized with criticism. Both Cohen and Batchelor have experienced this. Cohen describes this new McCarthyism as a kind of “cancer, metaphorically” such that this harangue of a narrative restrains people like Sec. State, Tillerson from performing their functions. The Soviets also misrepresented facts to maintain their narrative for Russians. The bottom line for both regimes that indulge in this kind of propaganda is that deceit is hugely damaging on multi-levels. One of the facts left out, Cohen mentions, is a huge one involving how the DNC handled the “hack”, that it did not call the FBI but a private investigation agency (Crowdstrike). This bunch labelled the problem as being due to Russian involvement. And so the narrative began. The FBI never investigated these findings! Other groups looked at these findings and nothing was found to implicate Russia. No facts whatsoever. It was all deceit. These facts have been excluded. In the Soviet system the KGB was used as the expert sources for spin propaganda. In the US, however, the heads of agencies have stood up and supported the narrative – like James Comey, Director of the FBI did very recently. Cohen is still unsure whether the FBI ever looked closely at the DNC situation. He suspects that Comey was told not to.
One word to describe this weeks news concerning the New Cold War is ‘harrowing’. The House Intelligence Committee hearings have begun and they are already afflicting the Trump administration on the diplomatic field – with Russia, of course. We note that Sec. State, Tillerson has postponed a meeting with NATO heads (a meeting at home with China’s head of state is the stated reason), and he is also going to Moscow in early April. Europeans are in an uproar over his alleged shirking of NATO responsibilities. But the major news about the first public statements of the House Intelligence Committee, aka the ‘Russia Gate” hearings dominates the podcast discussion. We should be appraised of the mandate of these hearings and understand that the mandate is biased toward an outcome. Note from the House Committee web site: Cohen is understandably upset with many of the public statements coming from the heads of the FBI, NSA, and Senator Schiff that Batchelor describes as sounding like the ‘first chapter of a Frederick Forsythe novel’. Cohen’s comments are also worthy, for example, in describing ‘FBI Director, Comey morphing into J. Edgar Hoover.’ Cohen concludes that full ‘McCarthyism is upon us.’ He notes that even Americans visiting Russia are now under suspicion – we now see guilt through association. Cohen maintains that the new McCarthyism is unfolding a lot faster than the previous one – and now Americans are fearful of transgressing the narrative and almost everyone in government is a parrot in voice if not in mind. The second half of the discussion opens with the item of the ‘Trump bribe’, i.e. funded support by Russia for Trump’s election campaign (also allegedly to change the Republican policy outlook about Ukraine). Cohen uses this and other ‘tawdry’ items to show how low Schiff intends to take this investigation. Trump’s foreign policies, on re-arming Ukraine also came under attack (as supporting Putin) even as Obama was following the same policies. The hypocrisy is astounding and yet these people are confident because guilt of being seen or labelled Putin apologist will be dangerous. But Cohen maintains that the national security risks for the United States are seen in how the ‘hack’ of the DNC is being touted as an act of war by Russia. That this is central to the hysteria means that the lie is also central to the Deep State’s war aims with Russia in the future. Early on in the discussion Prof. Cohen mentioned that at the height of Joe McCarthy’s fear campaign even then president Truman was wary of intervening against McCarthyism. The motives of this deplorable man were to create a power base for himself – as director of a new watchdog ministry within government. We should recall that President Eisenhower finally said enough is enough to this madness. But this time we have a potentially much more dangerous situation in that the goal of a the group known as the ‘Deep State’ is to destroy a president in order to pursue a bellicose foreign policy with Russia. If lies are acceptable as evidence and can be acted upon with impunity for people like Senator Schiff, then any madness of foreign policy is possible for that government. We might speculate that if the conclusions “found” for Russian involvement in the election hold up, then we are watching a process whereby a president can be impeached in the same way. These are the stakes! The Deep State, in other words, will have become mainstream in control. To the greater extent this group is halfway to the surface already in that the MSM is an important component – and there may be no going back to a less rabid norm from here. Every self-inflicted demolition committed against government institutions and citizens by these people will determine or at least influence how much tolerance Washington will treat the rest of the world.
The Trump administration assault on investor protections put in place following the 2007-08 financial crisis continues apace. The war on investors takes place in arenas both large and small. The large issues get the attention, of course. These include repeal of much of the Dodd-Frank law and regulations of the biggest Wall Street banks, limiting or eliminating the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which actually helps individual customers abused by giant financial institutions, and preventing adoption of fiduciary standards for financial professionals recommending securities that line their pockets but are risky to customers. But Washington is not merely a swamp of self-interest with large, highly visible alligators munching on small fish to satisfy their insatiable greed. Another apt metaphor is a field of giant weeds – weeds of rules, processes and procedures that can be manipulated for the interests of the Fat Cats. These weeds are everywhere in Washington. Whether your particular self-interest lies in financial dealings regulated by the Federal Reserve and the Securities and Exchange Commission, looser regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency, exercising greater control of your employees by removing Labor Department regulations, or a host of other rules, processes and procedures, powerful interests with highly paid lawyers can push back easily against the much-maligned bureaucracy every day. This is especially the case when there is one-party government and the president appoints those at the center of the oligarchy to head government agencies, as is true today. What goes on hidden by these weeds is not usually paid attention to by either the press or the public. Case in point: Although the SEC currently has three vacancies on its five-person commission, the designated temporary chairman, Republican Michael S. Piwowar, has quietly restricted the authority of the SEC’s civil servants in the Enforcement Division to issue subpoenas for witnesses and documents when investigating whether securities laws have been violated. A small number of news articles suggest this unwarranted reversal of an eight-year-old policy delegating authority to the supervisors in the Enforcement Division may remove Division discretion in its use of civil investigative powers completely.
H. R. 610, a bill which calls for sending federal education grant money to states to distribute to public, private, and homeschooled students, sounds good at first, but as the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as free money. William Estrada a lawyer and the Director of Federal Relations with the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) points out four ways in which H. R. 610 is set to threaten the freedom of homeschooling parents, including a tracking database for homeschool families: 1. Elimination of language protecting homeschool freedom in U. S. Code: Page 2, paragraph (a) repeals in its entirety the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, which was most recently reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act. While HSLDA applauds this repeal language, as we believe that the federal government has no constitutional authority to make education decisions which should be left to state and local authorities, this full repeal would also eliminate HSLDA’s language fully protecting homeschool freedom from all federal control. 2. Creation of a ‘federal right to homeschool:’ Page 3, Sec. 104 requires states to make certain assurances in order to receive their portion of federal education dollars. One of the requirements (paragraph (2)(A) on page 3) is that states ‘make it lawful for parents of an eligible child to elect … to home-school their child.’ While this sounds good, HSLDA has fought – successfully – for decades to make sure that there is no ‘federal right to homeschool’ because what could be created by a favorable Congress could be regulated by a future, hostile Congress. It is far better (and far more constitutionally sound) for education decisions – and homeschool freedom – to be protected at the state level. We ask our friends at the federal level to simply leave homeschooling families alone. The Constitution protects the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children, as the U. S. Supreme Court has ruled in its seminal cases of Meyer, Pierce, and Yoder. Federal legislation to ‘protect’ homeschooling is unnecessary.
The rationale for Donald Trump’s selection of Jay Clayton, a law partner at Sullivan & Cromwell which has represented Goldman Sachs since the late 1800s, to be the next SEC Chairman grew exponentially fuzzier after Wall Street On Parade reviewed political donation records at the Federal Election Commission. FEC records show that 59 of Clayton’s fellow lawyers at the firm made over $900,000 in donations to the Hillary Victory Fund while one lone lawyer, Donald Korb, made two $2700 donations to Trump’s primary and general election campaign. Donations from three other lawyers at the firm, Justin Decamp ($2700), Robert Giuffra ($25,000), and Diane McGimsey ($5,000) to the Trump Victory committee came after Trump was already elected President, according to images of receipts filed with the FEC. In addition to the more than $900,000 that went to the Hillary Victory Fund, tens of thousands of dollars more were donated by Sullivan & Cromwell lawyers to Hillary Clinton’s main campaign committee, Hillary for America. Donors to the Hillary Victory Fund included Sullivan & Cromwell Senior Chairman, H. Rodgin (Rodge) Cohen, who donated $250,000 on May 12, 2016 and another $35,000 the following month. During the Wall Street panic and crash in 2008 and 2009, Cohen darted from representation of one failing institution to another. The Wall Street Journal dryly noted in the midst of the crisis that Cohen was ‘in demand because he helped mold the financial system that is now under assault. He helped draft the rules that led to the emergence of powerful national banks, waged the first hostile bank takeover in the U. S. and lobbied, in the early 1990s, to expand the Federal Reserve’s power to provide the emergency loans now being employed by the government.’
Many things have been happening in this ‘transition period’ that point to one grim fact: Trump hasn’t sworn into office as president yet. As a matter of fact, things are happening that may very well derail that inauguration. There’s an old Irish expression: ‘There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip,’ and there’s quite a few slippery deeds in the works in particular that bear mentioning. January 20, 2017 is still a long way off, and Obama isn’t done just yet. From an international perspective, something very heinous happened in the dead of night just a little more than a week ago. The House of Representatives passed a resolution, H. R. 5732, in a special session that included the suspension of normal rules. Suspensions are characteristically used for bills that are not controversial. H. R. 5732 is as controversial as they come: it holds the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2016, with Sec. 303 holding the provision for the establishment of a no-fly zone over Syria. The H. R. was introduced by Eliot Engel of New York (how surprising), and not only does the no-fly zone apply to Syrian planes in their own airspace, but also raises the prospect of engagements between U. S. and Russian aircraft. Trump’s ‘reset’ with Russia doesn’t occur until January 20, and there’s still a lot of time in between now and then.
This post was published at shtfplan on December 4th, 2016.
In a peculiar update on Thursday morning, just around 9am Eastern, Trump’s former campaign manager and transition aide Kellyanne Conway tweeted that she is “Receiving deluge of social media & private comms re: Romney Some Trump loyalists warn against Romney as sec of state.” Receiving deluge of social media & private comms re: Romney Some Trump loyalists warn against Romney as sec of state — Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) November 24, 2016
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 24, 2016.
There are a number of conflicting events discussed this week, from Vice President Joe Biden threatening a cyber attack against Russia, a small ceasefire truce effort from Russia in Syria, and significant news from the Ukrainian Civil War. The implied threat from Biden’s public cyber attack statement was taken very seriously in Moscow as a ‘declaration of war’. Cohen says this is a very serious escalation of tensions and speculates about the motives. And yet there is hardly any discussion about how serious this is in the U.S. media or any statements from the White House. But given the pending meeting between Russia’s Foreign Minister Lavrov and Sec. State, Kerry meeting in Switzerland the target may have been diplomatic. But Cohen asks (I paraphrase): ‘Why the silence from Obama, and who is actually making decisions in the White House?’ The discussion then moves to Syria where the White House is threatening to charge Putin and others in the Kremlin with war crimes over the Russian bombing of ISIS in Syria. Cohen maintains that this just makes the Kremlin ‘dig in its heels about Syria’. But these statements go along with Biden’s cyber attack statement, and are seen as extreme – even as top experts agree that proving the source of hacking is impossible. And Cohen goes on to explain ‘weasel language’ in diplomacy. So the situation becomes pretense as a real cause of war. Batchelor then turns his focus to the disruptive affects of the Syrian conflict on surrounding states including European and hence they turn to this new truce, this ‘humanitarian pause’. The result was a meeting last Wednesday with Germany’s Merkel, France’s Holland, and Putin. Cohen expected little outcome from this – as the European component have little political clout left. And Cohen discusses the hypocrisy of Washington and its falsification of events in Syria in supporting the ISIS fighters in order to get regime change. But in spite of this the Russians are prepared to allow a humanitarian corridor, under U.N. observation for civilians and ISIS fighters to leave – even with their weapons. But given the U.S. broke that ceasefire by attacking Assad’s forces the last time, this may be a Russian test to see what Washington does with it – and this writer also thinks that the truce may be a counter to all the propaganda levied against Russia for being complicit in war crimes. Batchelor also brings up some European leaders’ efforts to increase sanctions over Syria. But this is what vassal states do, and it would seem that domestic political considerations for E.U. leaders take second place to the agenda of the Empire of Chaos. This fact is also very worrisome given how opposed many of those citizens are to what their leaders are doing. The final discussion concerns Ukraine. Could Ukrainian President Poroshenko be in danger of assassination? And the answer is perhaps, but only if he tries to implement the Minsk2 Agreement. Not surprisingly, Kiev has increased its military assaults against the breakaway provinces. But the ‘Normandy Four’ is still meeting in Berlin – Putin has relented and will talk with his European ‘partners’. The significance of this week’s podcast discussion can be summed up by the indisputable fact that all of Washington’s complaints and actual situational conflicts with Russia are based on unsupported facts and propaganda. It is all artificial, supported by the MSM, and most worrisome, done successfully for its propaganda goals. The question for most of us who pay attention is really whether or not Washington wants a war with Russia? If so, it is probable that few Americans (and Canadians) will see it coming, or understand anything about it. And that is another way to say that the United States is no longer a democracy. As usual there is much more to hear in the podcast.